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Finding the Funding: A Hands-on Approach to

Fundraising Essentials

Presented by

Ann Fitzgerald, President


AC Fitzgerald & Associates

October 6, 2006

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hilton Milwaukee City Center
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Finding the Funding: A Hands-on Approach to Fundraising Essentials

PROPOSAL WRITING FOR THE NON-WRITER 3

25 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER BEFORE WRITING A PROPOSAL 3


NOW TELL A STORY… 4
PROPOSAL STRUCTURE 5
PROPOSAL ATTACHMENTS 6

DIRECT MAIL ON A LIMITED BUDGET 7

ARE YOU READY TO START A DIRECT MAIL PROGRAM? 7


HIGH-DOLLAR PROSPECTING ON A $1000 BUDGET 9
IF YOU HAVE MORE TO SPEND… 10
A WORD ON STATE REGISTRATION FEES 11

DEMYSTIFYING DONOR MEETINGS 13

QUALIFYING QUESTIONS 14
OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS 18
FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS 19
QUESTIONS FOR FOUNDATIONS 20

A.C. FITZGERALD & ASSOCIATES ▪ 703-528-3310 ▪ WWW.ACFITZGERALD.COM


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PROPOSAL WRITING FOR THE NON-WRITER


I’ve never worked on a successful proposal that didn’t require a lot of effort from
the organization involved. It’s hard work to define the project, the need, and the
expected results. However, I found that the effort was well worth it. By spending
some time answering these questions, you will be well-prepared to write a full
proposal, and report back to the donor once the project is underway.

25 questions to answer before writing a proposal

Background
1. Who is the audience?
2. What do you know about them? What is their mission?
3. What motivates their interest? How will this project meet the donor’s
needs and interests?
4. Have they supported your organization before? What did they give to?
5. Who else do they support?
6. Has anyone met with them recently?
7. What is your relationship with the organization? Board members?
Staff?

Introduction
8. What is your organization?
9. What is your mission? Vision?
10. What are your organization’s qualifications to do this work?

Case for Need


11. Why is the project important?
12. Why is it relevant? Urgent?
13. What was the catalyst for this project?
14. How do you define success?
15. Who benefits if this project is done well?
16. Who is hurt if you do nothing?

Project Description
17. What is the project?
18. Why is this project unique?

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Measurements / Expected Outcomes


19. What are your goals and objectives?
20. How will you measure your results?

Personnel
21. Who are the key personnel working on this project?
22. What are their qualifications?

Request for Support


23. How much will this project cost?
24. How much are you asking for?
25. How will you fund it after the grant is spent?

Now tell a story…

After you gathered the basic information for your proposal, make it as
persuasive as possible by telling a story.

Why tell a story?


• People understand and relate to them.
• People remember them.
• Stories best represent the passion we feel for our cause.

What are the elements of a story?


• Characters: The villain, the victim, the hero
• Conflict: The problem you are trying to solve
• Resolution: The program that you want funding for

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Proposal Structure
FOLLOW THE FOUNDATION’S GUIDELINES!!!

Unless you have been given other direction, the proposal should be limited to 10
pages or less.
If the foundation does not have specific guidelines, include these basic
components to tell your “story.”

Component Description Ideal Length Story Element


Executive Summary The case statement and Several The introduction of the
summary of the entire paragraphs to characters (Villain, Victim,
proposal 1 page Hero), the problem, and the
solution

Introduction Puts your work in Several Highlight the hero’s credibility


context. paragraphs to (your mission statement and
1 page successes)
Statement of Need The facts and evidence 1-2 pages The “tension” or “conflict”
to support the need for builds by describing the
the project problem in detail.

Answer “why”? (Why are we


doing this work? Why should
the donor be interested?)
Project Description / How the project will 2-3 pages The resolution to the problem;
Goals & Objectives be implemented the hero’s role / your program
Conclusion A summary of the Several The epilogue; and a possible
proposal’s main points, paragraphs sequel (plans for the future)
including need for
support Include funding request
Organization The history and 1 page
Information governing structure;
your primary activities,
audiences, and
programs; key
personnel. An annual
report can be
substituted
Budget The financial 1 page
description of the
project

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Proposal Attachments

If the donor does not ask for anything specific, include:

‰ 501(c)(3) letter or the “IRS determination letter”


‰ Board of Directors list with professional affiliation
‰ Organization’s annual budget
‰ Audited financial statement (if available)

A few proposal tips


FOLLOW THEIR GUIDELINES for submitting your request. Some
foundations want an initial letter of inquiry before you submit a proposal.
Meet their deadlines. Remember, most foundations don’t accept proposals
delivered overnight by UPS or FedEX; plan accordingly.
Remember to proof!
Make sure that the name, address, and phone number of the contact from your
organization appears on the proposal—not just on the cover letter.
Put your organization’s name in the header or footer of the actual proposal.
Most proposals are photocopied and distributed at Board meetings. The best
presentation is “black ink on white paper.” Don’t use colors or fancy
bindings.
Call the funder a couple of days after sending the proposal to make sure it was
received.
If you get the gift, write a thank you note promptly (within 48 hours).
If you don’t get a gift, call to thank the foundation for reviewing your request
and find out why it was rejected. (This could be useful information for future
requests and will help build a relationship.)
Don’t ignore the funder once the gift has been received. Make sure you send
periodic updates on your work.

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DIRECT MAIL ON A LIMITED BUDGET


Direct mail is a cost-efficient and effective way to identify a large number of prospective
donors for your cause. It also allows you to:

• Build and cultivate long-term relationships with supporters


• Identify prospective major donors for future follow-up
• Raise awareness about your organization
• Promote your organization in the region

Embarking on a direct mail program is a serious commitment for any organization.


Before you make this investment, review these factors to determine:

Are you ready to start a direct mail program?

Y/N
YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A 3-5 YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN. As part of this plan, you
have tracked your current sources of income (e.g. foundation, corporate,
individual, and identified a need for increased support from individuals.
YOU HAVE A STRONG DESIRE TO INCREASE INCOME AND BUILD A LARGER
NETWORK OF SUPPORTERS. You want to broaden your base of support and you
are ready to follow up on the major donors you identify.
YOUR SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND/OR BOARD OF DIRECTORS ARE
COMMITTED TO DIRECT MAIL. To prepare and sustain a direct mail program,
you need to be very committed to the work it will entail. Even if you use outside
vendors, you will have to approach this as a new program that will require
time and resources.
YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A STRONG CASE FOR SUPPORT THAT ADDRESSES WHY
YOUR ORGANIZATION IS UNIQUE AND WHY YOUR WORK IS IMPORTANT. When
it comes to preparing an actual letter you will need to identify a problem you
are trying to solve, your solution to the problem, your strategy for solving the
problem, and the benefits to the contributor if he supports you.
YOU UNDERSTAND THAT IT WILL TAKE 18-24 MONTHS TO RECOUP YOUR
INVESTMENT. Most organizations lose money on their prospecting programs
so you need to budget accordingly.
YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A COMPREHENSIVE BUDGET. This includes the costs of
internal staff to manage the project, state registration fees, a copywriter, mail
house services, list rental, postage, etc.
YOU HAVE A FUNCTIONING DATABASE. Your database (whether it’s a
fundraising program, contact management system, or Excel file) is able to
capture relevant contact and gift information for each donor.

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YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO PREPARE AND MAIL AN APPROPRIATE, PERSONAL


THANK YOU LETTER WITHIN 24-48 HOURS OF A GIFT. The first step to your
next gift is through the thank you letter so these letters should mail promptly
with a proper IRS receipt.
YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A “CALENDAR OF COMMUNICATION” FOR THE NEXT
12 MONTHS. It is helpful to develop a table which lists all the mailings you
have planned, including both fundraising appeals and relationship-building
materials.
YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A PLAN TO SECURE SUITABLE LISTS. Ensure that the
lists you use contain active direct mail donors; you have the right amount of
names; you have the appropriate dollar select for your package; you have
made a list of organizations that are similar to yours which you will approach
for lists.
YOU ALREADY PRODUCE REGULAR COMMUNICATIONS TO YOUR DONORS OR
CONTACTS. Successful direct mail programs are those in which donors receive
regular communication. You will be well-prepared for this if you already have
experience in communicating regularly with donors or contacts through
mailings such as newsletters.
YOU ARE PREPARED TO TRACK THE RESULTS OF EACH MAILING INCLUDING
COST, RESPONSE, INCOME, AND AVERAGE GIFT. It is also important to code
your lists properly in order to measure your results.
YOU HAVE LINED UP VENDORS. Ask other groups for recommendations of
copywriters, mail house services, and list brokers.
YOU HAVE A STAFF MEMBER OR CONSULTANT WHOSE MAIN DUTY IS TO
HANDLE DIRECT MAIL. Direct mail can be time-consuming; consider tapping
into outside help.
IF YOU ALREADY HAVE INDIVIDUAL DONORS, YOU HAVE DONE SOME BASIC
SURVEYS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT MOTIVATES THEIR GIVING. Why do donors
give you to you now? Understanding what motivates them will help as you
reach out to new prospects.
YOU HAVE MET OR SPOKEN WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WHO ARE
SUCCESSFULLY ENGAGED IN DIRECT MAIL. Other similar organizations will be
a good source for vendor recommendations, suggestions and ideas.

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High-Dollar Prospecting on a $1000 Budget


Can you start a direct mail program with a very small investment? It’s possible but
finding new prospecting names will be an ongoing challenge. Here is one scenario:

BUILDING YOUR LIST COST


Use existing contacts (from meetings, events, etc.) $0
Ask Board Members for their contact lists $0
Ask current donors to refer a friend $0
DEVELOPING THE APPEAL COST
Maximize existing communications such a newsletter to ask for gifts $0
Buy and read Mel Warwick’s book, Writing Fundraising Letters $27.95
Become a direct mail donor to four groups (at $25 each) and read their $100
letters
MAILING YOUR APPEAL COST
Paper (3 page letter; printed on both sides with on page reply form for $300
500 names)
Envelopes (carrier or outside envelope; reply envelope for 500 names) $350
Postage (First class postage for 500 letters) $195
State registration fee (on average for one state) $50
TOTAL COST: $1022.95

RESPONSE (ASSUMES 2% RESPONSE RATE) 10

AVERAGE GIFT (ASSUMES .70 PER $1.00 SPENT) $71.54

GROSS INCOME: $715.40

NET INCOME (GROSS INCOME MINUS TOTAL COST): ($307.55)

This scenario assumes your prospecting lists are solid and that you are asking donors for
a gift of $100 or more.

At the end of this process, you will have “lost” $300 but gained ten new donors whom
you can solicit for additional gifts throughout the year.

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If You Have More to Spend…


Direct mail is a long-term investment in both time and resources.
Organizations that have active prospecting programs to find new donors can
spend thousands of dollars on each mailing.

As you create your budget for direct mail, you may want to consider that an
effective high-dollar prospecting mailing can cost about $2.00 per package. This
includes:

• Copywriting services
• Mail fulfillment services including
o Package design (Number of pages, design of the envelope, etc.)
o List brokering (Renting lists from other organizations)
o List management (Performing merge/purge of lists)
o Personalization (Using the prospect’s name)
o Production (Printing and mailing)
• First-class postage

Direct Mail Checklist


‰ Register in the state(s) where you will be soliciting funds. (See
page the next page for more information on this)
‰ Select a mail fulfillment service. They can help you with postal
permits, selecting lists and production.
‰ Write the letter or hire a copywriter.
‰ Draft a thank you letter to send out to donors who respond.
‰ Prepare an IRS receipt or include language in your thank you
letter.
‰ Plan your mailings for the year.

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A Word on State Registration Fees


Most states require charitable organizations to register before
soliciting contributions. If you do not register and you are reported to
the state’s attorney general (by someone receiving your prospecting
letter, for example), you could be subject to significant fines.

If you only mail in one state, this process is fairly easy and inexpensive. If your
organization solicits contributions in numerous states, you probably want to
consider hiring a firm to handle the registrations and the annual renewals. Each
year several states change their laws and forms.

State Amount Payable To


Alabama $25 Office of the Attorney General
Alaska $40 State of Alaska
California $25 Department of Justice
Colorado $10 Colorado Secretary of State
Connecticut $20 initial; $25 renewal Department of Consumer
Protection
District of $160 biannually DC Treasurer
Columbia
Florida sliding scale up to $400 Commissioner of Agriculture
Georgia $25 initial; $10 renewal Secretary of State
Illinois $15 Illinois Charity Bureau Fund
Kansas $35 Secretary of State
Louisiana $25 Department of Justice
Maine $100 State of Maine
Maryland sliding scale up to $200 Secretary of State
Massachusetts $35-$250 depending on receipts Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Minnesota $25 State of Minnesota
Mississippi $50 Mississippi Secretary of State
Missouri $15 Attorney General
New Hampshire $25 initial; $50 renewal Attorney General
New Jersey $30-$250 depending on receipts Division of Consumer Affairs
New York $10-$25 depending on receipts Department of Law
North Carolina $50-$200 depending on receipts Secretary of State
North Dakota $25 initial; $10 annual Secretary of State
Ohio $50-$200 depending on Ohio Treasurer of the State of Ohio
receipts

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State Amount Payable To


Oklahoma $15 Oklahoma Secretary of State
Oregon $10-$200 depending on Oregon Department of Justice
receipts
Pennsylvania $15-$250 depending on receipts Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Rhode Island $75 State of Rhode Island
South Carolina $50 Secretary of State
Tennessee $100-$300 depending on receipts Tennessee Secretary Of State
Texas $150-$250 depending on receipts Attorney General
Utah $100 State of Utah
Virginia $30-$325 depending on receipts Treasurer, Commonwealth of
Virgina
Washington $20 initial; $10 annual Washington Secretary of State
West Virginia $15-$50 depending on receipts State of West Virginia
Wisconsin $15 Secretary of State

Source: Labryinth, Inc. Note: Contact each state for the most up-to-date information on
registration requirements.

A Few Direct Mail Tips


Save money by printing as many direct mail components as possible at one
time. While it may be impractical to print a year’s worth of envelopes because
of storage concerns, you probably can print six month’s worth.
Consider what you want to communicate to new members about their
membership, your organization and your programs. Include this information
with the initial thank you letter or consider creating a new member welcome
package.
Write your thank you letter at the same time as when you write your
prospecting letter. This will ensure you can send a prompt thank you letter to
donors.
Once you have gained some new donors through successful prospecting, be
sure to keep them engaged in your work with regular communication and
further solicitation for support. As they say, “a donor saved is a donor
earned.”
Reach out to lapsed donors in your list annually. Often “lapsed” donors
believe they are still giving.

A.C. FITZGERALD & ASSOCIATES ▪ 703-528-3310 ▪ WWW.ACFITZGERALD.COM


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DEMYSTIFYING DONOR MEETINGS


While it’s important to have effective donor communication pieces, persusaive proposals,
and good follow-up on the telephone, you will have much more success getting the gifts
you want—in the size you want—through face-to-face meetings.

Visits are opportunities to:


• Connect donors to your mission
• Develop a closer relationship
• Learn about the donor
• Ask for a gift

Before meeting with a donor or prospect:


1. Do some basic research to learn about the donor.
2. Understand your organization’s needs and interests.
3. Set your goals for the meeting. (Why are you meeting with this
person? To build a relationship? To ask for a gift? To involve the
donor in a program? To learn more information?)
4. Practice your listening skills and rehearse what you want to say.

During the meeting:


1. Relax. The hard part is over, you got the meeting.
2. Come to the meeting with empathy, energy and enthusiasm.
3. When you get to the presentation, talk about how the project will
benefit the donor.
4. Make the case based on relevancy, emotional appeal and urgency.
5. Welcome objections to probe for concerns: is it our organization?
Our project? The amount? The timing?

After the meeting, be sure to:


1. Write a thank you note to the donor.
2. Type up your notes from the meeting and add them to the donor’s
file or to your database (what did you learn about the donor?).
3. Frankly assess your meeting (did you achieve your stated goals?).
4. Decide on the next action.

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Qualifying Questions
Part of the fundraiser’s job is to assess the donor’s ability and readiness in
making a major gift. In a face-to-face meeting, you will have the opportunity to
uncover information about the donor such as their motivation for giving, their
family situation, their interest in your organization, their philanthropic activity,
etc.

The following questions can be asked as part of casual conversations to help


“qualify” the donor.

Reveals: Motivation

Thank you very much for your gift. Can you tell me what prompted it?

What are your impressions of our vision for the future?

Do you believe we have a strong case for support? If so why? If not, why not?

To what extent do you believe (the expansion of government, high taxes, decline of
moral values) are serious problems for our (state, country, world)?

In what ways do these issues impact you, your family, your beliefs, your values?

As you (read, heard) our vision for the future, in what ways to do see our
organization effectively addressing these issues?

Are there other ways our organization could help solve this problem?

In what ways might you help us address these issues?

Are there any questions about our vision, mission, work, priorities that we've not
answered?

Reveals: Other charitable giving; views on philanthropy

What other conservative groups are you involved with? [On the board of?]

How involved have you been with your alma mater?

Which are the top three organizations you support? Why is that?

Where is our organization on your list (if not among the top three)?

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When you give, do you give both annually and to capital projects?

What capital gifts have you given that have given you pleasure?

How did it come about? What made it so pleasurable? Are you still involved with
them?

Under what circumstances would you be willing to make a stretch, capital gift to a
charity? To our organization?

Among our fundraising priorities, which do you find the most compelling? Why?
Least compelling? Why?

What factors go into your philanthropic decisions?

Reveals: Wealth

Have you had a chance to take some time off this year? Where did you go?

Do you travel much?

How’s business? How has the economy affected you?

Reveals: Type of conservative.

How do you think the [President/Governor/Congressman/State Delegate] is


doing?

What do you think are the top three issues facing our country/state?

Many donors tell me that they are concerned with the direction the country is
going. What have you seen that’s worked? or What do you think would work?

Reveals: Family Background; Number of children/grandchildren;


How involved their spouse is in the giving decision.

Is your whole family conservative?

What are the ages, names of your children? Grandchildren? Where do they
live?

Do you get to see your children often? Grandchildren?

In my household my spouse and I make all of our giving decisions together, how does
it work in your household?

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Reveals: Interest in issues/legacy

When you think about your grandchildren, what concerns you the most?

Have you ever made a gift using a planned giving vehicle like a trust or annuity? How
did that come about? Is that something that interests you? Do you feel
knowledgeable about such vehicles? Would you like to know more?

Is our organization a part of your estate plans?

Reveals: Values

How and why have you settled on your life’s work?

What are the guiding principles that have helped you achieve in your business
life?

To what extent does our organization’s mission dovetail with your beliefs? How
so?

What’s the best decision you ever made in business?

What do you expect from the charitable organizations that you become involved
with?

How have other organizations demonstrated to you the impact of your giving?

How do you like organizations to demonstrate their appreciation for gifts you have
made?

If I could demonstrate to you the true impact of your philanthropy, would you prefer:
something named for your or someone you love; meeting some of the people you have
helped; hearing from some of the people you have helped; receiving a report on how
you money has been spent; all of the above.

Reveals: Knowledge of/Interest in organization

How did you become familiar with our organization?

What interests you most about our organization’s work?

What do you believe are the perceptions of our organization nationally?

In what ways do you feel good about the gifts you make to our organization?

What are your perceptions of our effectiveness?

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Do you believe your gift is making a difference? If so, how?

How well do you know our programs? Which ones? How did that come about?

Which aspects of our programs do you believe are our greatest strengths?

Do you feel we use your contributions wisely, that we are fiscally well managed?

What are your impressions of our publications [newsletters, etc]? Which ones do
you get, read, like?

Do you feel more informed about our mission, vision and work as a result of
reading our publications? More informed about how your gifts are used? More
informed about our priorities and plans for moving forward?

Have you attended any of our events? Which ones? How did that come about?
What was your impression?

Do you have any particular concerns you would like me to share with our
CEO [Board, etc.]?

Do you feel you know our President/CEO and trust his/her leadership?

What are your impressions of our CEO? Why?

Have you had an opportunity to (read, hear) our (vision for the future), (our
strategic plan), (our bold ideas for future), (the benefits we see in this project)?

Reveals: Type of involvement

How have you been involved with other organizations? What was the experience
like?

How can we get you more involved with our organization?

Would you be interested in helping us identify and engage others?

Would you be willing to review a list?

Who among your friends and acquaintances might be moved by our work?

What one piece of advice would you give us as we plan our future?

We would love for you to (insert involvement request here). Is that something you
would find of interest?

It is important to us that our donors and volunteers have satisfying experiences as


they help us achieve our vision. How can we best help you, help us?

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Reveals: Readiness and Commitment

I remember you saying that (fighting for limited government; our intern program;
our education work) is important to you, is that right?

If I understand you correctly, what you'd like to see is (our conservative values
represented in Washington; more opportunities for young conservatives;
consumer-based solutions to the health-care crises; less regulation of small
business)?

As you think about making a real difference, what projects (priorities, programs,
giving opportunities, naming opportunities) have the greatest appeal?

We would like to come and speak with you, over the next few weeks (days,
months), about making an investment in our organization. Who should be a part
of that conversation?

As you think about our organization's ambitious goals for the future, which of
our priorities do you think should be the most important? How would you rank
the others?

As you know (insert priority) is a critical piece of our organization's commitment


to the nation (the world, conservatives, young people,etc.) is that something with
which you agree?

You've shared with me the tremendous impact you believe this project will have
on (Americans; students; etc.) including (impact summary). Is that correct?

Then, may I suggest a next step of....?

Overcoming Objections
(Objection: "That's a lot of money.") It sounds like you're wondering why we
need that amount in order to get the impact we've discussed. Am I correct? The
reason is....

(Objection: "We're over committed.") It sounds like you would like to invest in
our organization but right now you can't see how you might do that. Am I right
about that? Would it be helpful if I explained some of the ways others have
managed this problem? They....

(Objection: "We don't believe in giving to operating. It's just a black hole.")
Perhaps you'd like to know specifically how your gift would be used. Would that
address your concern? Here's how unrestricted gifts make a powerful and
specific impact on the people we serve...

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(Soft answer: "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you.") What factors will
you consider as you weigh our request?

(After objection is stated) "So, you're concerned about (restate) is that correct? If
that were not an issue, what would you like to accomplish with a gift to our
organization?"

(After objection is stated) "So, you're concerned about (restate) is that correct? I
remember the last time we met you said that it was very important to you that
(what the gift would accomplish), has that changed for you?"

Follow-up Questions
How so?

Can you clarify that?

Can you give me an example of what you mean?

Do you have any questions about what I just said?

What specific results are you looking for?

Can you say more about that?

Did I understand you correctly when you said...?

Did I answer your question?

How did that come about?

What did that mean to you and your family?

How do you feel about that?

How strongly do you feel about that?

What do you think about that?

What is most important to you?

Are we in agreement?

Are you ready to move forward?

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Questions for Foundations


How are decisions made at the foundation? Who is involved? What is the
process?

Under what circumstances do you make exceptions to your (giving guidelines,


average amount)?

I noticed (organization) received an extraordinary gift from your foundation, what


made their request so compelling?

If that (some objection to getting involved or giving voiced prior to solicitation) was
not an issue, in which of our priorities would you be interested?

We would love for the foundation to make a site visit, how can we make that happen?

Under what circumstances do members of the foundation board participate in


(activity) of organizations with whom you have relationships?

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