Questions to Ask Donors in Response to a Gift…

Adapted from Grassroots Fundraising Journal

As a fundraiser, you’re probably focusing on “the ask”: how to frame your request in the most compelling, inspiring way. Without a doubt, a strong ask is one of the keys to successful fundraising – but then what? When you hear the words, “Yes, I’d like to help,” how do you respond?

Be grateful and enthusiastic. Show your heartfelt appreciation. Talk about how the gift will make a difference. Then it’s time for the “after questions.”

Not every question below is relevant for every donor or every visit. Choose the questions that seem most relevant and adapt them to your needs and circumstances.

  1. “How would you like to pay? Do you want to write a check now? Would you like us to send you a pledge statement in the mail?
  1. “How do you want us to use this gift?” Check your notes from this meeting and all previous conversations with the donor. If you sense any indications that she wants to restrict her gift to a specific program or campaign, this is the time to clarify and honor that intent.
  2. “How would you like to be recognized? We publish donor names in our newsletter, our annual report, and our Web site. We’d love to include your name so we can publicly express our thanks … your commitment will inspire other people to give. May we list your name, or would you prefer to be anonymous?”
  3. “Tell me a little more about why you support our work. We’re always interested in what motivates our donors to give; this helps us reach out to other potential donors.”
  4. “Would you be willing to give a testimonial we can use in our newsletter and other promotional materials? Our most generous supporters – people like you – are our most credible advocates. May we have a sentence or two to share with others?”
  5. “Would you be willing to join us at a board meeting and talk about why you support our work? It’s really helpful for the board to hear directly from donors – it reminds them why we do the work we do and why it’s important to ask people to contribute.”
  6. “How would you like to be kept informed about our work – and how often? Do you want a printed newsletter or do you prefer brief e-mails? Shall I phone you from time to time? Do you participate in social media like Facebook? Would you prefer to receive updates in person – and if so, how many times per year?”
  7. “When I come back to give you an update, would you be willing to include family members [or others] so they can learn about your support of our work?” If you’re cultivating donors for future gifts, especially planned gifts, this is an essential step.
  8. “Can you recommend other people we can talk to about a gift? Do you have friends or colleagues who might want to join you in supporting our work? Would you be willing to make an introduction – by phone, by e-mail, or in person – or join me for the initial visit?”
  9. “Given your strong commitment to our work, would you consider volunteering to help us raise money? For example, would you be willing to come along when I meet with prospects and talk about why you give?”
  10. “What’s your personal giving calendar? Are you typically a once-a-year donor? Twice a year? If we have an urgent need, can we approach you again? What schedule works best for you?”

Capture all this information and enter it in your database or other donor management system immediately. Congratulations! You’ve just created a personalized road map for engaging your donor and honoring his wishes. If you use it, and use it diligently, it will lead to repeated (and larger) gifts.


What questions were missed?  Any tips on the “art” of nurturing this relationship with wisdom?


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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