While not always the best way to get information, focus groups can be helpful in learning a bit about donor motivation, preferences, and giving priorities. These questions are a sample of both qualitative and quantitative questions that could help you as you facilitate your discussion.

Remember: people will lie to you in focus groups. They don't mean to. It's just that they never really think of your nonprofit as much as they will in the group. So take focus group results with a grain of salt and actively measure behavior. If in doubt, err on the side of what donors actually do rather than what they say they think they will do.

Possible Focus Group Questions

  1. What is your relationship to [our organization]?
    ____ Trustee (current/former)
    ____ Donor
    ____ Patient (current/former)
    ____ Community Leader
    ____ Volunteer/Friend
    ____ Other

  2. When and how did you first become involved with the [organization]?
  3. What is your overall perception of [our organization]?
    ____ Favorable
    ____ Mixed
    ____ Unfavorable
    ____ No Opinion
    ____ No Response

  4. How would you rate the following from 1-Excellent, 2-Very Good, 3-Good, 4-Fair, 5-Poor, or 6-No Opinion?
    _____ Organization Leadership and Administration
    _____ Board of Directors
    _____ [Another Group]
    _____ [Service Quality]
    _____ Staff
    _____ Fundraising
    _____ PR/Marketing
    _____ Facilities/Infrastructure [more for capital campaigns]

  5. If you were to recommend [the organization] to a friend, relative, or prospective donor or employee, what would you share with them as the top three strengths?
  6. As you think about the future of [the organization], what concerns you?
  7. What is your overall reaction to the proposed plans explained in the Case Statement?
    _____ Very favorable
    _____ Favorable
    _____ Mixed
    _____ Unfavorable
    _____ No response

  8. If you were to assign priority rankings to these aspects of [the organization’s] proposed plan [or current services or anything you want to get rankings on] (1 being the most important), what would those priorities be?
    _____Project 1
    _____Project 2
    _____Project 3
    _____Project 4

  9. Who else do you think we should be engaging? Either as donors or volunteer leaders.
  10. Do you currently, or have you in the past, supported [our organization]?
    _____ Yes
    _____ No
    _____ No response

  11. If no, why haven’t you?
  12. Where do you place the [the organization] as a priority for philanthropic giving? If medium or low, how could it become higher?
    _____ Highest
    _____ High
    _____ Medium
    _____ Low
    _____ Not a Priority
    _____ No response

  13. Where have you given your largest philanthropic gift? What circumstances would need to be in place to consider the same gift to [our organization]?
  14. Describe the most effective solicitation you have been a part of (either being solicited or soliciting someone else)?
  15. Does your company have a matching gifts program?
  16. Are there any individuals, foundations, or corporations that you would be willing to contact on [the organization’s] behalf?
  17. If yes, who might they be?