Asking Questions

May 2, 2011
by Cindy Changyit Levin, Development Associate

Outreach events and fundraisers are a great time to talk up RESULTS and engage others in a cause about which we are so passionate. If you’re like me, however, you might be so excited to tell people about our amazing work that you forget to ask prospective partners and donors about themselves. In my enthusiasm to share successes, I sometimes miss opportunities to build relationships. Yet if all of us take the time ask questions that allow people to talk about what matters to them as it relates to RESULTS, we have so much to gain!

Asking open-ended questions lets people talk and share their perspectives.  This is really similar to how we build relationships with members of Congress; we try to find how to take the relationship to the next level.

Kathe Shaw-Bassett on “Movie Mondays” (an online fundraising training tool) suggests a few questions to keep in mind.  (You can easily use them to follow up with attendees individually after an outreach meeting or a fundraising event.)

  • Could you see yourself becoming more involved with us? What would that look like?
  • What are some of the ways that you see us being effective in the community?
  • What was your first impression when you learned about us? Did we leave out part of the story out that you found out later? Did we leave part of the story out completely?
  • How are you involved with us now and, is that the most exciting thing about what we do? Or is there something else?
  • What is it about what we’re doing that is meaningful for you?
  • Are you engaged in the way you would like to be? How do you think we can be better at what we’re doing?
  • If you were going to give us a piece of advice, what would it be?
  • Are there other people in the community we should be talking to about these issues? If you were in my position, with whom would you be talking?


For long-time donors, those advice-seeking questions can be particularly important. In general, people like to give advice and to be asked their opinions about something about which they care.  It empowers and engages them.

And speaking of engaging folks for further involvement, remember that donating can be the first step to someone becoming an active RESULTS volunteer and volunteering can be the first step in developing a RESULTS donor. The majority of people who volunteer in this country give money. Volunteering people are giving people. The two often go hand-in-hand.

If nothing else, when you ask questions of those with whom you are connecting, your relationship will become stronger. And we all know that RESULTS thrives on the power of relationships!


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