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rankingOne of the most important questions a fundraiser or volunteer can ask a person from whom they would like to solicit a gift is:  “Where does our organization rank among your philanthropic priorities?”

All organizations are not created or treated equally philanthropically.  Typically, an organization that ranks among a donor’s top three philanthropic priorities will receive the lion’s share of financial support.  Thus, knowing that you are #10 on a donor’s list of ten is not a very advantageous position to be in.  In contrast, if the prospective donor responds that the organization you represent is #1, congratulations!

Asking about a prospective donor’s philanthropic priorities also sheds light on whether the person you are courting is philanthropic or not.  A good follow up question when your organization ranks low is:  “What is it about the other organizations you support that are so appealing to you? How can we improve our ranking?”

To prove my point, try this: Think about the organizations you support and why.  List and rank them.  What does this exercise reveal to you?  Wouldn’t you love to know the thoughts of your most important prospective donors?

Like most things related to fundraising, the key is to ask.  Ask your donors about their giving priorities.  Ignorance of your prospective donors’ philanthropic interests makes your job that much more difficult.