Six New Year’s Resolutions that will Change Your Life…or at Least Make You a Better Major Gift Officer–#5 Be Curious—Ask More Questions

Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”  Anthony Robbins

You might be thinking, “This is a rather odd resolution.  What is this all about?”  I’d be inclined to agree with you, if I were you.  But I’m me and this makes perfect sense!

Here’s why.

In my experience,  one of the major reasons MGO’s get stuck in their work with donors is that they fail to ask good questions.  And they fail to ask good questions because they are not curious enough about their donors, their own organization or the projects they are raising money for.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a caseload strategy session for my clients and the MGO is stuck on how to move forward.  I begin to ask a couple of simple questions and immediately we are on our way to coming up with a new strategy or idea that leads to a solution.

I ask myself, “Is this the job for these folks?”  But then I realize that these are actually good people who, once unstuck, can implement a great strategy and come to a positive outcome.  I think it’s more of a case of learned behavior to NOT be curious, to not continue to ask more questions.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Come on, just tell me the answer so I can get on with it.” I think that’s it in a nutshell.  We’re so eager to execute that we don’t step back, pause, ask questions, ask more questions, wait, and then wait some more for the breakthrough.

Some people fold after making one timid request. They quit too soon. Keep asking until you find the answers. In sales there are usually four or five “no’s” before you get a “yes.”  Jack Canfield

Whenever I interview someone, one thing that immediately strikes me is whether the person I’m interviewing starts asking me some really good questions.  This tells me they are curious.  And I know from experience that if they are curious they seek out solutions to complex problems.

We all know major gift fundraising has some very complex problems.  When you are putting together some six and seven figure gifts (and for that matter, even a $10,000 gift can sometimes be complex) there are a lot of pieces to put together.  The MGO’s who ask good questions and show curiosity are the MGO’s who are the most creative and most successful.

“When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.Lillian Smith

 So, make 2012 the “year of curiosity.”  You’re going to need to literally re-train yourself to keep asking questions.  “Who do they know?”  “What are they involved in?”  “How can I get closer to this person?”  “Why do they give so much more to this organization and not mine?”

Great questions lead to breakthrough answers.  Go ahead.  Ask away.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Philanthopy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Six New Year’s Resolutions that will Change Your Life…or at Least Make You a Better Major Gift Officer–#5 Be Curious—Ask More Questions

  1. Bob Tiede says:

    “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
    Naguib Mahfouz

  2. Pingback: Nonprofit Resolutions for 2012 for your fundraising success | Pamela Grow's Grantwriting Blog

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for your continually insightful posts! I find this blog to be one of the first ones I read and incredibly helpful to my own professional development. All I can say is, please keep ’em coming!

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