The importance of donor surveys

One of the biggest influencers in keeping donors loyal, which many nonprofit organizations don't realize, is their satisfaction with the development office, according to Nonprofit Quarterly. For this reason, it's important to keep tabs on how your donors would like for your organization to grow and what changes they'd like to see most. The best way to find this out, outside of having conversations with them, is to conduct surveys. 

Reasons to conduct surveys
Surveys have been a part of some of the most successful businesses. Although they don't always have a 100 percent response rate, the data that can be gathered from answered surveys is well worth the trouble of making them a regular part of your business model. Here are the four main reasons to use surveys, according to Snap Surveys:

  • Gain new information: The most obvious reason to conduct a survey is to gain new information. In regards to nonprofit organizations, the information gathered will be about what donors care about the most, what makes them loyal to an organization and other things to keep them invested in a cause. You could also use surveys to learn the personal information of donors to see if there's a demographic that you happen to be more successful in reaching.
  • Make a baseline: Even if a survey doesn't lead to any immediate changes within an organization, it should still provide some worthwhile information about its donor pool. At the very least, the information gathered from the first survey can be used to form a baseline to compare others to in the future. You'll then be able to determine if the trajectory of the organization's mission is moving into a positive or negative direction or has become stagnant.
  • Spark discussion: The best relationships, no matter the environment, are the ones with a bit of give and take. Surveys could be used to make organizations seem more approachable and interested in what their donors have to say, which could lead to important future conversations. While the surveys are a great tool to gain information about donors, using them as a way to become more familiar with donors through conversation is an added bonus.
  • Making future decisions: Given that it took time and effort to gather donor information through surveys, it should be used, if possible. If donors made suggestions about changes they'd like to see occur in the organization, they should be considered. If a donor knows that they recommended something and sees it come to fruition, they'll not only feel that their opinion matters, but will become an even more loyal donor because they know they're valued. It's always good to hear things from someone looking into a situation from the outside because they may see things no one else does. Members of an organization's board may think that things are perfect as they are, but be surprised when a survey tells them the opposite. 

How to conduct surveys
After coming to the conclusion that your nonprofit organization should conduct donor surveys, you should consider how to go about doing so. The first ways that come to mind, such as sending out emails or stopping donors at events, may either be too vague or ineffective.

Here are some survey completion strategies from Fired Up Fundraising:
Approach them correctly: A mistake that a lot of people make when they conduct surveys happens immediately. Approaching a potential survey respondent with a statement such as "I need your help" may come off as selfish of the surveyor. If you were to approach the respondents by politely asking for a few minutes of their time, you're more likely to get a response.

Ask the right questions: You want to make sure to ask respondents the right questions. If you want to find out what improvements can be made in a particular department of the organization, ask. Don't ask questions that you have no interest in finding out the answers to or wouldn't even benefit the company. 

Follow-up after: The point of the survey is for organizations to get what they want from donors: information. But it's important to follow up with those same donors and let them know that you appreciate their assistance. 

Back to News