We always say that in Planned Giving, people skills are far more important than technical skills. Why? Because people give to people, not to institutions.
Yet sometimes, even the most socially adept among us need a little help to get the conversation started. That’s why we’ve developed these 15 Donor Conversation Starters. Use them the next time you meet with a donor or prospect. Along with the 31 Quality Questions To Ask Donors, they’ll help break the ice, establish trust, and get you started on the path to building a meaningful, mutually beneficial relationship.
People generally like talking about themselves, and a glimpse into their past can reveal a lot about their motives and beliefs. That’s why this is always one of the best donor conversation starters.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your lifetime?
This is one of those donor conversation starters that will give you some insight into the most important events and people in your donor’s life.
What are you reading? What is your favorite book/who is your favorite author?
If you could change one thing about (situation that affects world, mission, etc.), what would it be?
This is one of the most important donor conversation starters in your arsenal. Good stewardship starts with finding out what’s important to the donor or prospect, and why they might want to help your organization.
What is something you’d like to see your gift (and/or the organization) accomplish?
This is one of those off-beat donor conversation starters that can reveal a little more about your donor’s personality than more mundane questions.
Donor Conversation Starters: Last Notes
Remember to ask Open-Ended Questions
Some people are tough to crack. Given the chance, they’ll give monosyllabic answers instead of detailed replies. That’s why phrasing is important. Sometimes, leading or open-ended questions produce better answers:
- “That must have been amazing! Can you describe for me how it made you feel?”
- “That must have been difficult. What was the biggest challenge of getting through it?”
Ask some quirky questions.
Sometimes, to let the subject’s personality really shine through, you may want to ask quirky questions, such as, “What’s your favorite TV show? What kind of music do you like? What’s your favorite meal? What’s your favorite color? Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate? Are you a dog person or a cat person?”