Our Ask An Expert sequence options actual questions answered by Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, our very own Fundraising Coach, also referred to as Charity Clairity.

As we speak’s query comes from a nonprofit worker who needs recommendation on tips on how to tactfully ask for donor suggestions with out making guarantees.  

Pricey Charity Clairity,

What sorts of questions would you counsel asking donors to assist them really feel heard—with out making guarantees about appearing on their concepts? 

I don’t need to say no to them, however typically the concepts provided aren’t possible. I’ve gotten in hassle with board members “reporting” me to my boss, saying I didn’t take heed to the donors and even that I rejected their recommendation. What ought to I do in another way?

— Not At all times Tactful

Pricey Not At all times Tactful,

To be trustworthy, tact has by no means been my strongest go well with both! Fortunately, I’ve discovered a factor or two throughout my nonprofit journey, and I’m completely happy to share.

First, watch out about the best way you ask for donor suggestions.

Inform donors you’re gathering concepts from a lot of leaders like them. You’ll in the end consolidate them, bearing in mind the concepts which are most resonant and possible at this time limit. It’s swell to share the completed product, reminding them of a few of their concepts you did honor. 

When it comes to what inquiries to ask, you don’t a lot ask, “What ought to we do?” As a substitute, ask questions like these: 

  • “What’s actually resonating with you about this problem?” 
  • “What’s the underside line of what bothers you about this case?” 
  • “What are you interested by?”
  • “What would the dream be?”
  • “What may be different potentialities to make this dream come true?”
  • “What suggestions are you listening to locally round this downside?”

Keep away from asking why questions like, “Why do you suppose this?”

“Why” questions make folks defensive and put them in an argumentative stance as a result of they really feel like they should defend a sure viewpoint or provide you with a “proper” reply. You need them to be in a relaxed and co-creative stance.

Second, finish the dialog with a smile.

Even in case you’re on the telephone or conversing over electronic mail, make an effort to smile as you discuss or write. It should shine by way of! Let the donor know the way grateful you might be for his or her suggestions and even how attention-grabbing or stimulating you discovered it. Inform them you’re going to think about their suggestions and that you simply’ll share it with others as effectively. This may make them really feel heard and valued. 

Third, shut the loop.

Should you’re not going to behave on the concept, you should definitely get again to the donor and replace them on what’s occurring. You may inform them you consulted with a lot of different stakeholders, and the consensus was to not go in that path right now. You’ve received the concept in your file for when the time could also be proper, and also you hope they’ll maintain these concepts coming!

Should you’re going to behave on the concept, you should definitely let the donor know and provides them the credit score they deserve! For instance, in case you’re in a public assembly with the donor, let others know this plan, technique, thought got here from them. Should you’re writing to your board to allow them to find out about upcoming plans, point out you’re utilizing suggestions from this donor

Individuals love and wish pats on the again. And the actual fact they contributed might encourage others to have interaction with you extra actively as effectively!

Thanks for wanting your donors to really feel heard. 

Charity Clairity

PSBear in mind: Active listening is half the battle!

Have a query for our Fundraising Coach?

Please submit your query here. Bear in mind, there aren’t any silly questions! If you want a solution, it’s possible somebody else does too. So assist your colleagues by asking away. Please use a pseudonym, like “Not At all times Tactful” did, in case you desire to be nameless.

Claire Axelrad

Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE is a fundraising visionary with 30+ years frontline improvement work serving to organizations increase hundreds of thousands in assist. Her award-winning weblog showcases her sensible method, which earned her the AFP “Excellent Fundraising Skilled of the Yr” award. Claire runs “Clairification Faculty” on-line, teaches the CFRE course that certifies skilled fundraisers, and is an everyday contributor to Guidestar, NonProfit PRO and Maximize Social Enterprise.

Claire Axelrad
Claire Axelrad

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