I’m often asked what lessons nonprofit organizations can apply from the for-profit world.  While there are different answers to that question the area I believe nonprofits are farthest behind their profit cousins is in soliciting feedback from supporters / customers.

Think about it—when was the last time you called your bank, rented a car, or booked an airline ticket and weren’t asked to complete a customer feedback survey? 

It’s become almost a ubiquitous process for B2C businesses to ask their clientele for post transaction feedback. Businesses use these surveys not only to affirm what they are doing well, but also to know where and how they can improve that experience.

But what about our space, the nonprofit world?  How do we follow the lead set by for-profits?  It’s not quite an apples to apples comparison, but there is huge opportunity for nonprofits to leverage technology to easily solicit feedback from donors and constituents.

And nowhere is this more important than with peer-2-peer fundraising events.  Post event surveys are  invaluable as a source of information about the event and as a way to deepen the relationship with supporters and fundraisers.  A good event survey will help you make future decisions about where to dedicate limited resources, breakdown stereotypes about participants, and improve your understanding about participant behavior.

But all surveys aren’t created equal.

To get to the info you really need you have to ask the right set of questions. Here’s a list of 4 key components for crafting an insightful P2P event survey:

  1. Optimize for participation. Surveys should be short, 10 questions or less.  Let your constituents and fundraisers know up front how long the survey will take to complete.  “It will only take 2-3 minutes to complete this survey.”  Start with easy questions with yes / no answers to encourage people to get started. If it is meaningful to ask demographic questions, slot those in at the end.  And try to avoid open ended questions as it requires too much time from respondents and the answers tend to be hard to categorize.
  2. Ask questions about things you can change. If you realistically can’t or won’t change the event venue then don’t ask for feedback about that location.  Think about questions that will help you make adjustments next year.  For example, ask supporters if they used social media to fundraise and if so, which social networks they used.   Take that information and use it to coach participants next year regarding which social platforms have the highest return.
  3. Plan for segmentation. Create a different survey for unique participant segments.  Team captains, volunteers, donors – all have unique experiences and interests and therefore the questions you ask need to get to the heart of those experiences.  No one survey can adequately cover all your participants.
  4. Be prompt.  Don’t wait a month before sending the event survey.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Typically we recommend sending the survey 2-3 days after the event.

Executing a successful P2P event is hard, no doubt about it.  But a thoughtful event survey will help you take the guesswork out of what you need to do in the future.


Andrew Shoaff manages Blackbaud’s Essentials with Go!™ program, a group consulting service that helps nonprofit organizations deepen constituent engagement and accelerate online fundraising. Previously, Andrew was the acting CFO/COO of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. and has additional professional experience in management consulting and private equity. He holds an MBA from Indiana University, a BA from Hamilton College, and professional certifications in project management (PMP®) and Six Sigma processes.

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