Donor Engagement: Questions Welcome
Donor engagement: what's an effective method of gauging their interest? I'm amazed at how offended people can get when their fundraising plans are questioned. I’m not talking about the person who questions everything you have ever done and never gives more than $30 per year to the church. Questions don’t mean someone isn’t supportive. In fact, questions can be a sign that they are interested in contributing in stewardship and are just making sure your project is worthy of a gift.
I just worked with a congregation that raised more than $3 million. This was more than the base goal we established. One of the $500,000 gifts came from someone who asked a lot of questions. Some of the leadership wasn’t sure about these questions and got frustrated by them. One person in leadership wanted to dismiss the questions and not answer them.
We did answer them. Each question. I bet there were 12-15 of them. Some were hard questions about missteps that happened a few years ago. Others were about when the project would take place. There was a question about how sustainable the project would be. I remember many questions about quantifying the impact the project would have on the community.
Each question helped assure this member that the project was worthy of a major gift. Each question assured him that leadership had a good plan. Each question helped him know that God was guiding the project and it would be a blessing. His questions helped him know where to invest.
Would you buy a car from a salesman who didn’t answer your questions? Would you invest in a mutual fund without having your questions answered? Why would donors invest in your project if all their questions don’t get answered?
I have found that people who aren’t asking questions aren’t considering a major investment. We need to encourage questions to increase donor engagement. If people aren’t asking questions, we likely have a bigger problem: we likely haven’t engaged our audience!