8 questions to ask to get inside your donor’s head

The better you know your donor, the better your appeal is going to be. That’s obvious. The problem is your donor is probably coming from a completely different experiential background. How do you get inside that person’s head?

Luckily, the answer comes by way of a book on screenwriting: The Protagonist’s Journey by Scott Myers. In his book, he lays out eight questions that a screenwriter needs to ask in order to understand the protagonist of the story and get into the protagonist’s head.

Here, those questions are adapted for direct response fundraising. I go into each of these questions in detail in my article in Nonprofit Pro. See it here: 8 Questions to Ask to Get Inside Your Donor’s Head (nonprofitpro.com).

But here’s the 50,000-foot view.

1. Who Is the Donor?

To create an effective appeal, you can’t think of your donors as a mass of people. You have to think of one person.

2. What Does the Donor Want?

Your donor gives for her own reasons, not because your charity needs funds. So your appeal has to align with what your donor wants.

3. What Does the Donor Need?

What your donor needs and what your donor wants aren’t necessarily the same thing.

4. What Is the Eventual Resolution of the Donor’s Want and Need?

The eventual resolution isn’t necessarily giving a donation, although that’s certainly part of it. 

5. What Is at Stake for the Donor?

Your donor sees that there are things at stake, both for her and for the people around her.

6. Who or What Opposes the Donor From Getting What She Wants and Needs?

Maybe she discovered a new charity that has her attention. Maybe she just doesn’t feel like giving right now.

7. What Does the Donor Fear the Most?

Sometimes what your donor fears the most is only partially related to your cause.

8. Why Does This Donor Need to Give at This Time?

There are lots of reasons your donor would decide to give to your nonprofit. It’s important to pick the best one. 

This is just a summary. To get the whole story, take a look at my full article on Nonprofit Pro at 8 Questions to Ask to Get Inside Your Donor’s Head (nonprofitpro.com).

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