One question.What’s the one question to ask your major donor that, when answered, will unlock everything you want to know about that donor?
It is this: “When was the last time you experienced joy in giving a gift?”
That’s it.
The answer to that question, and the follow up to her answers, will give you all the information you need to help fulfill the donor’s desire to change the world through your organization.
And it all starts with joy!
Think about it. Here is what you will uncover:

  1. You’ll find out how she has been treated in the past that led her to experience that joy.
  2. He will be telling you exactly what brings him joy.
  3. She will tell you what she is passionate about and why.
  4. He will lead you through the entire process of giving the gift which created that joy.
  5. He will tell you what type of impact he wants to make in the world.
  6. She will give you good information on how she was thanked and appreciated.
  7. You will know what programs and projects your organization runs that matches her passion and brings her joy.

Having a face-to-face meeting – or even a meeting on the phone with a donor – gives you the opportunity to connect with that donor. Most likely it took you a lot of time and effort to actually have this meeting. So make the most of it!
Not only do you want great information, but also you want the donor to leave that meeting thinking, “Wow, they really want to know me. They are interested in me… they care about me.”
Most major gift officers don’t ask this question. I often hear from major gift fundraisers who first ask a donor, “What do you want to accomplish with your philanthropy?” Ugh. That just lacks soul.
When you ask a donor when they experienced joy in giving a gift, it leads them to tell you a story that will conjure up a great feeling in the donor. It’s also a unique question that the donor will not expect, because the whole conversation leads with focusing on her… Not the organization, not on you. And to tell you the truth, we are a “me-first” society, so the donor may be shocked that you lead with that counter-cultural question.
After that joy question and all the follow up to the donor’s answer, you will have all you need to take the conversation and the relationship further. Everything else is details.
What you take away from the answer to your joy question will help you care for your donor in a way that no other organization will consider.
If you’re skeptical, just ask a colleague the same question. Read their face when they give an answer. Listen to their story. You will see it and hear it.
In your next donor visit, ask the “joy” question. You will be amazed what you find out.
PS — Need to know how to get the meeting? Click here for our free White Paper, “How to Get Meetings with Donors.”