Years from now, don’t be surprised if The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave is singled out as a watershed book in the field of fundraising.
People might well point to Harvey McKinnon’s work and say, “That’s when the conversation with our donors changed – literally.” And they’d be right. In what it sets out to do, The 11 Questions is deceptively simple. The author wants merely to prepare you – whether you’re a board member, volunteer, or staff – for the questions you’ll inevitably face from prospective donors, whether spoken or not.
But of course, since a good measure of your fundraising success hinges on the answers you give, things aren’t quite as simple as they seem.
McKinnon has identified 11 core questions, ranging from “Why me?” to “Will my gift make a difference?” to “Will I have a say over how you use my gift?”
And, one thing is certain: McKinnon knows how to instruct. Rather than dryly tell you to “Do this” or “Do that,” the author punctuates his prose with dramatic real-life stories.
And they are highly engaging, each one skillfully selected to drive home a point. You’ll discover, for instance:
- How a volunteer coached by a nationally known consultant secured a gift of $175,000 without ever once asking for the gift.
- How the chair of a YWCA sparked a first-time gift of $100,000 with a single disarming question from her heart.
- How by not underestimating his donor’s ability to give, a development officer at a technical institute turned a $100,000 gift into a $1 million gift.
- How McKinnon himself, when he was a young fundraiser, handled a brusque prospect who fulminated: “Will you leave my office right now if I write a check for $1,000?!”
- How by artful negotiation the head of fundraising for a leading HIV/AIDS organization prevented the rock band Queen from donating a vast sum of money to something entirely needless.
- How with an exquisite 30-minute presentation, and a double-shot of espresso, the Head of Fundraising for Greenpeace International transformed a $1 million gift into a $10 million gift.
The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave registers high on the fundraising Richter Scale. And its impact on how we relate to donors will be felt from Houston to Winnipeg, from Baltimore to Vancouver.
When the dust settles and we’ve absorbed the essence of Harvey McKinnon’s book – we will begin anew, and in earnest, to approach our donors in a way that inspires their generosity and fortifies their commitment to the life-changing work we do.
Jerold Panas, who knows a thing or two about fundraising, calls The 11 Questions “A beautifully polished gem, with real-life stories that unerringly hit their mark.”