The Question That Opens Doors for Thriving Fundraising Campaigns


Lead Gen 3 -Strategy Guide Figure Out Why Your Campaign is Stalled and How to Fix It (3)

This month we'll be highlighting the core questions thriving nonprofit leaders use to assure their organizations are able to continue to serve the community. And, we'll be sharing how to answer these leading questions and the resulting impact.


The Common Question Nonprofit Leaders Ask About Donors

A question clients often ask me is “What are the questions I should be asking to make this the best donor visit possible?”

They're often surprised by my answer.

One of the things I love to do during feasibility study interviews is starting the interview with an invitation. It goes something like this:

"Before we get into the important issues of this potential campaign and the future of the organization, I’d like to get to know you a bit better to give me some context as we move forward. Can you share your “highlight reel”? In other words, can you tell me your story? Not the story of your business, but YOUR story… from birth to today in ten minutes or less."

When they raise their eyebrows, I tease that I made a bet with the staff that if they don’t learn something new, I owe them a nice dinner.

Spoiler alert: I haven’t had to buy dinner in a long, long time.

Revealing Community Connections

As the interviewee unpacks their story, I may need to keep them on task and on time. But what they reveal is truly special. They share both trivial and deeply personal things. Laced in their answers are their connections in the community and their philosophy of giving and serving. Often we go from 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon separation to 2 degrees with me!

Almost always, the staff tell me after the meeting how much they learned in that first ten minutes of the interview – even with donors or board members who they’ve known for years.

Transformational Questions

That first question, “would you tell me your story?” is an invitation that can transform not only a visit, but a whole relationship. Don’t forget to share your story too. The connections you forge will serve you well as you walk this path of philanthropy together.

Have you ever taken this approach? Give it a try and tell us how it went for you. If you're looking into moving forward with a feasibility study or fundraising services in general, reach out to us for consultation. We'd love to help!

Posted by Bruce Berglund
Bruce Berglund

Written by Bruce Berglund

For nearly 30 years, Bruce Berglund, CFRE, has been a successful professional fundraiser in the fields of higher education, arts and culture, and social services. Bruce is the CEO and Founder of DBD Group (formerly Donor by Design Group), a national firm providing comprehensive fundraising services to nonprofits, churches, community colleges and schools. DBD is currently managing more than $3 billion in capital, annual and endowment campaigns. Bruce is a highly sought-after writer, speaker and teacher.

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