Six questions to ask and answer before seeking my advice

“What do you think about giving clubs? I’ve noticed that lots of nonprofits have them.”

“Our board thinks we should start an endowment program. What’s your advice?”

“I’ve been hearing a lot about crowdfunding. Is that something we should try?”

Several times a month, I get questions like these from harried fundraisers on the hunt for THE strategy that will set their fundraising efforts on a course to greater success. The first response that comes to my mind, particularly when I’ve not met the person or the cause behind the question, is a snarky “How in the world should I know?” or “Your guess is as good as mine.”

But neither would be helpful, kind, or respectful and former Girl Scout that I am, I try my best to be all three. So I check my attitude, slap on my consultant hat, and away I go. As my family and friends will tell you, I’m seldom at a loss for words or advice.

Amazingly, most folks claim they find our conversations to be a help. However, I know my counsel could/would have been so much more useful had the caller taken time to ask and answer a few questions before reaching out to me — at a minimum, the following six:

  • What’s the issue/problem/opportunity you are trying to address?
  • How will implementing the proposed strategy help address the issue?
  • What other strategies have you considered and why this one and not those?
  • How does the proposed strategy build on or complement what you’re already doing?
  • Do you have sufficient staff and budget to support the proposed strategy?
  • How will you assess the effectiveness of the proposed strategy should you decide to implement it?

If you have your hand on the phone (or computer keyboard) ready to contact me or another fundraising consultant, stop, wait, ask, and answer.

Do all that and now you’re ready to (really) talk.

For more on making choices for your fundraising program, see:

For fundraising success, focus

Get more done by doing less

Even good ideas may have to die


  1. Another great post! These six questions are great ones to ask when thinking about some new initiative/strategy. They really help clarify what the problem is, why we aren’t choosing other options, and maybe what we are afraid of doing that this strategy will serve as the workaround. Really helps get to the heart of the issue.

    • Thank you, Dan. You’ve identified one of the crazy aspects of organizational life — latching onto a strategy that seems to address one challenge when really it’s a way of avoiding bigger issues.

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