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Ask Your Donors for Advice. Then Listen!

You may have heard the old adage: If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice.

It’s true. Donors are far more interested in giving you money after you’ve taken the time to ask them their opinions.

So, get out there and ask your donors for advice!

Share your plans with them and ask them for input. Those plans might be about your programs, your strategic direction or your fundraising. Or whatever is on your mind!

As consultants, we do this a lot in the context of campaign feasibility studies. We send the prospect a brief written overview of what an organization is planning to do and why, and then sit down and talk it through with them. This process is an important part of cultivating leadership gifts.

But you don’t have to wait for a campaign and you certainly don’t have to hire a consultant to reach out to your donors.

The things you might discuss with your donors are limitless: Are you about to implement a planned giving program? Perhaps you’re considering launching a giving club. Maybe you’re thinking about adding programs for a new demographic. Or expanding to a new location. Are you looking for new ways to grow your board?

Whatever you’re grappling with is worthy of sharing with your donors and getting their feedback.

So pick one or two key issues and run them past your closest donor friends as well as those you’re trying to bring closer.

The benefits of asking a donor for advice are tremendous:

  • The donor feels valued as more than just an ATM.
  • The donor can offer important insight into how your agency is perceived.
  • You learn a lot about a prospect’s interests and passions.
  • You improve your own communication skills.
  • Ideally, the donor will feel a stronger sense of ownership for your organization’s work.
  • More often than not, the prospect will tell you exactly what they intend to give and why.
  • And so much more.

The important thing is not to do a bait and switch. Don’t say you want advice and then go ask for money. Be transparent and genuine about wanting their perspectives. Then keep them posted on how things are going and how you’ve incorporated their ideas.

And, of course, use what you’ve learned to create a customized solicitation strategy!

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