Fundraising & Development

Key questions your nonprofit donors may ask

donor meeting

You have surely had moments in your life where you wanted to ask a question but chose not to — whether out of appearances, shyness, or whatever other reason. Believe it or not, your donors have likely had similar experiences.

When you are hosting a fundraiser, your donors undoubtedly want to know more about the cause they are funding. Most of them will ask you routine questions. What is your cause, who are the beneficiaries, will there be memberships or honorariums for them, etc. These are all questions you should know how to answer by now. After all, they may make or break your fundraising goal.

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Before you step into the gala room for the night, be ready. But don’t just be ready to recite the same figures and charity goals you know off the top of your head. Be ready as well for the unusual question that might catch you off guard.

Sometimes, a donor comes along who is interested in more than your numbers. Donors can have different approaches to choosing the next nonprofit to patronize. Those with unique approaches will have unique questions to ask you. Here are some examples of questions that you may encounter.

“Are you overworked or understaffed, or simply passionate about your advocacy?”

This question is a tough one. It’s also a rare question that will likely come from a well-versed donor in the physical and emotional tax that running a nonprofit organization requires. The donor is asking a valid question that requires you to be honest: how much help do you need to keep your organization running?

If you get asked this, don’t under or oversell yourself. Their donation might save you and your staff an extreme amount of stress. Donors also want to know that their money is being put to good use. They want to help where they are needed. So let them know that you need their contribution.

“Who is behind your organization?”

If a donor asks you this question, you could answer in two ways: either you name the head or founder of your nonprofit, or you talk about how the nonprofit is a community effort. The former is impressive and shows extraordinary leadership for an individual. The latter shows that your organization has community support and is well-loved and appreciated by those outside your organization.

We prefer using the latter answer. Good causes are those that can unite people under a common goal. Donors want to be part of that as well. Although, if your senses tell you that your donor is one for impressive individuals, don’t be afraid to use the first answer instead.

“Who else has patronized your cause?”

Sometimes, the circumstances of this question can be strange. The donor could come across as elitist and wish to mingle among other patrons instead of your organization’s staff. But, sometimes, the donor wants to know who else is contributing to your organization.

The kind of people that your organization attracts can be very telling of your organization as a whole. Donors know this, which is why it is highly reassuring if they sense that very decent people have also donated to your nonprofit. So if you do connect donors to other donors, do so without infringing on data privacy. Perhaps invite them to a dinner or an event where they can hit it off.

Other than these questions we’ve talked about, some donors, in general, want to know more about the organization they are supporting.

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Those that will really invest their heart into your cause want to know what’s at the organization’s heart too. So even if they don’t ask, be ready to share more personal and authentic pieces of your organization with them. Donors will appreciate it more than you realize.