CGNA: Donor Questions and Quick Take-Aways

CGNA: Donor Questions and Quick Take-Aways

Article posted in Assets on 6 June 2017| comments


As we explore gifts of hard to value assets, we send you to You Tube for a series of helpful videos.

YouTube Noncash Video Links

Complete playlist of Clontz videos: playlist?list=PLFANojJqNtDTgnsxU8UzI7dK0egD7uawS

  1. Commercial Real Estate Contribution: watch?v=6I8TwHJfu_A
  2. C Corporation Contribution: watch?v=GJ-oTXegT28
  3. S Corporation Stock Contribution: watch?v=ze4gqHw1UHo
  4. Ten Least Wanted Assets:
    See video
  5. Crops and Timber Contributions: watch?v=OlhoHecftGE
  6. Depreciated Asset Contributions: watch?v=OYnwLLaBTw8
  7. Assisted Living:
    See video
  8. Art and Collectibles:
    See video

Donor Questions | Quick Take-Aways

By Bryan Clontz

Below are quick take-aways on questions to ask potential donors in a broader planning context. This topic is based on Jay Steenhuysen’s “Philanthropy Planning: What to Say and Do in the Room with your Donors/Clients to Explore and Document the Philanthropy Mission.” For an in-depth examination adapted and excerpted from the article, see Identifying Charitable Passions and Noncash Giving Opportunities. For further details, see Donor Questions | Additional Resources.

Although most upcoming chapters address unique considerations and questions for specific types of noncash assets, this chapter deals specifically with the up-front questions. These questions are often necessary to assess the charitable outlook and receptivity of potential donors. Although they may seem directed at development or gift officers, any party to the gift-making process should consider these questions. This includes the potential donor’s tax, legal, and financial advisors, and even the potential donor himself.

These questions, of course, are not comprehensive. However, they should work as a jumping-off point to develop the charitable conversation. Questioning skills are a balance between art and science, but always include the most important element— listening. With that in mind, general principles for conversations with potential donors include:

  • Let the prospective donor’s passions and interests guide the discussion.
  • Base the questions you ask on the interests they show.
  • Assess the potential donor’s past charitable activities—cast a broad net to pull in all social, political, educational, religious, environmental, or scientific causes the donor supports or supported.
  • Understand the prospective donor’s balance sheet, particularly any noncash assets which might be suitable gifts.
  • Similarly, try to evaluate the potential donor’s current income, and need for future income.
  • Evaluate the rough overall cost of completing the gift transaction.
  • Determine what it will take for the donor to be satisfied with the gift.

The core concept is that a good gift will not only be efficient from both economic and tax perspectives, but that it will also accomplish existing charitable goals. Of course, the parties to the gift must balance that against the charity’s need to bring in gifts at the lowest reasonable cost. A gift officer or advisor should ask questions with those goals always in mind.

Fundraising Nugget

Jeff Comfort, a very successful gift planner formerly with Georgetown University and currently with Oregon State University, trains fundraisers on the art of the ask. He suggests a technique called the Four Ss—Story, Story, Story and then Shut Up. By aligning these brief stories to known or perceived donor interests, and then remaining silent, this allows the donor to expand or self-select a particular topic. Once the donor is excited and engaged around a specific area, then the gift planner / advisor can use many of Jay’s questions to probe more deeply.

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