To be a great major gift officer, we believe you must be curious about your donors.
Why? Because your job is understanding their passions and interests and why they have them. This will help you discover, out of all your projects and programs, what will inspire them to give a significant gift.
I want to get very practical with you today. When we do our quarterly Q&A webinar, Richard and I often get asked what questions a major gift officer should ask when they’re meeting with a donor.
So here are some questions for you that will help unlock your donor’s passions and interests and help you start to develop trust with your major donors:

  1. You’ve been giving X amount over the last X years. This has been very generous. What is it that we’re specifically doing that you get excited about?
  2. You’ve been giving to this particular program of ours for many years. Why are you so passionate about it?
  3. You give to many charities. Why is ours so important to you?
  4. When you give to our organization, what is your hope and expectation of that gift?
  5. At what point in your life did your personal philanthropy become important to you? And what do you want to accomplish with it? Has it changed over the years?
  6. What is your preference in how I communicate with you?
  7. How would you best like updates on the impact your giving is having through our organization?
  8. You’ve been interested in X for many years and have given generously towards that. Besides your giving, would you like to be involved with X in other ways?
  9. Over the years, how have you felt about the relationship with our organization? Is there anything you would change? What could we improve upon?
  10. Where do you find the most joy in your life?
  11.  Why do you give of your personal wealth?
  12. When did you first hear about our organization, and what prompted you to make that first gift?
  13. You’ve been giving very generously for quite a long time. What would get you so excited that you would want to make a significant investment in our organization?
  14. How do you make decisions about your giving? Who do you seek counsel with? What is your process in making a decision to give?
  15. Tell me about the best experience you had giving a gift. What made it so good for you?

There you go. 15 questions you can use for your next donor visit. Any one of these questions will compel you and the donor to go deeper.
Every donor has a story. To get to that story you need to be curious and show that you honestly want to know your donor. (Tweet it!) A genuine love of hearing their story will allow the donor to start building trust with you.
Have a great donor meeting!
PS — If you have a favorite question, please provide them in the comment box so others can learn from you as well. Thanks.