Institute for Charitable Giving

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Questions I Like to Ask Major Donors

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Before making a call, I like to think of the questions I might ask during our session. Add my list to the questions on your list. (What! You don’t have a list!) These should be penetrating questions you ask at each meeting.

  1. Why did you give so significantly to your organization?
  2. What did the organization do well in working with you for your gift? What did they not do well? (What could have been done better?)
  3. Describe the relationship you have with the organization. What accountabilities are important to you? What brings you the most joy, most satisfaction?
  4. What would be the one or two things you would say are most important for us to dramatically increase philanthropic support? (Doable by 2020.)
  5. How important are big ideas for attracting transformational philanthropy?
  6. What ideas are most important for attracting major or transformational gifts for us?
  7. What gift have you made to any organization that has given you the greatest joy?
  8. When a major gift is involved, who do you like to make the request? The CEO? The Development Director? A volunteer who has made a large gift?
  9. When did you begin giving to our organization? Do you remember the size of the gift?
  10. Do you feel the gift was properly recognized?
  11. What is the most surprising and unexpected thing that happened to you following the announcement of your gift?
  12. Are you on the board of the organization where you made your gift?
  13. Did you find, when you made your gift, that the money you spent was somehow not missed? (“you only lose what you don’t give away.”)
  14. What was the role of tax in your decision?
  15. Who was involved in the decision— attorney, CPA, spouse, no one?

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