How and Why to Survey Your Donors | npENGAGE

How and Why to Survey Your Donors

By on Jun 27, 2014


Donor Surveys

By Laura Iancu,

Have you asked yourself: Why do people get involved with your organization? The reasons behind their decision can tell you lots of things. Moreover, do you try to see if they are happy with the choice they made? Satisfaction and a sense of belonging are one of the most powerful  drivers for building loyalty. And, this translates into big donors, and a good retention rate.

But finding out how satisfied your donors are is no easy thing and inside an organization it is already hard enough to split all the mandatory tasks. Thus, building up a team that thinks about ways to figure out how to raise the odds on establishing a strong, loyal relationship with your current donors seems like a whole new adventure.

The truth is that sometimes these simple things like surveys, thank you notes and other small things have great results. You don’t have to create an elaborate retention strategy to obtain great results. Donors like to be asked their opinion, after all, they willingly wanted to get involved and make a change.

Surveys are among the most well known instruments of measurements of public opinion, but that doesn’t mean everybody knows how to use them.

A few rules of thumb when applying donor surveys

Apply your “K.I.S.S.”.

Keeping It Short and Simple is a concept that applies with success in enhancing many organizational processes. When developing a survey it implies using common language, building surveys with a purpose in mind and asking few, relevant questions. If you know what you want to learn about your donors, building your survey will come easy. Remember to focus each survey with a single idea in mind, don’t make it too broad because you risk too much in interpreting their answers in the right way.

Learn the good, the bad and the ugly

Ask what you really want to know, but keep in mind you might not be pleased with the answer. Ask about their motivation to give and if there are any other places where they get involved. Ask what they do not like about you and what was not as they expected. Ask real questions, don’t use leading questions. You want your answers to be as honest as possible. At the end, gather your results and interpret them. Use these results to brainstorm new ideas, new partnerships and new ways of keeping your donors satisfied.

Don’t overuse it

You have to keep in mind that in real life each donor is involved in at least one business and is a consumer of many products and services. Hence, you are probably not the only one asking for their opinion. But since you might have a special meaning for them, keep them involved. Figure out when it would be the best occasion to survey them. Maybe you can take advantage of a fundraising event, a recent campaign or a new development inside your organization. It is a good practice to ask them after a previous interaction, they will feel more engaged. But you can do your own experiment, too. Track the results of surveys applied in several instances and see which one performs better.

If you find it hard to develop your questions and you are not sure on how to harvest information, you can do some research and find what experts have to say on the subject. Sargeant and Jay has a handfullof examples and strategies in his book Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value. And, it’s not the only one! You can access articles written on the subject or download reports of surveys used in big campaigns. Take a few of the provided examples of questions and adapt them to your own situation.

Take a look into the available tools. You can create great surveys for your donors working with SurveyMonkey, 123ContactForm, the classic Google Forms and many others. Each of them have different characteristics and assets to help you find the best solution.

Don’t be afraid to ask. It is in our human nature to desire to be asked for our opinion. It is a great and simple measure to gain some insights about donors while keeping them involved.

Have your own survey tips? Share them in the comments below!


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