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Sample Questions for Prospective Legacy Donors

Use these questions, customized to the interests and background of each potential donor, to learn more about the donors’ interests and values and encourage donors to consider planned gifts to your organization.

About the Organization

  • How do you feel about our organization and our work?
  • When did you see the organization at its best? At peak performance?
  • Which aspects of our programs do you believe are our greatest strengths?
  • Have you had an opportunity to meet with any of the people we serve? Under what circumstances? What were your impressions?
  • What one piece of advice would you give us as we plan for the future?


  • Why did you become involved with our organization? What attracted you to us?
  • What would it take to get you more involved with our organization?
  • As you think about the most satisfying volunteer experience you have had, what was the key?
  • We would love for you to (insert involvement request here). Is that something you would find interesting?

Philanthropy and Giving Interests

  • What other organizations are you involved with? Volunteer for? On the board?
  • What are your top three charitable interests? Why?
  • What charitable gifts have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  • What made it pleasurable? How did it come about? Are you still involved with them?
  • What factors go into your philanthropic decisions? How are decisions made at your house? Do you and your spouse make charitable decisions together?

Family and Personal Values

  • What family values would you like to see reflected in your family’s future giving?
  • Has your family done any volunteering or giving together?
  • Are there areas of conflict within the family that must be acknowledged when developing a giving program?
  • What are some of the guiding principles that have helped you achieve success in your business life? Personal life? Philanthropic life?
  • What is the best personal decision you’ve ever made? Why?
  • How do you like organizations to demonstrate their appreciation for gifts you have made?
  • To what extent does our mission (vision, work) dovetail with your values and beliefs? Why?

Questions to Elicit More Detail

  • Can you clarify that?
  • Can you give me an idea of what you mean?
  • What specific results are you looking for?
  • How did that come about?
  • What did that mean to you and your family?
  • Can you say more about that?
  • What is most important to you?
  • Are you ready to move forward?

Interested in learning more about endowment building and planned giving? Contact [email protected] if you’d like to talk further about cultivating legacy donors.

Diana Newman is the Executive Vice President of Benefactor Group. Her expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning, board development, public speaking, and group facilitation services for nonprofit organizations, specializing in gift planning and endowment building.

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