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By chris

This blog focuses on the world of prospect research and various related fundraising topics. To diversify our subject matter, we like to feature the work of our friends and colleagues in the community. Join me in welcoming Tracey Lorts of Greater Giving, and please enjoy this post on surveying donors.

Have You Surveyed Your Donors Lately?

Connecting with your donors is essential. And you want to do it in a way that works for them. How do you know what that is? That’s where a survey can be really helpful.

Find Good Tools

There are some really good online survey tools, like SurveyMonkey, that make it easy to collect information from your donors. Many of these tools have instructions and guidelines for designing a good survey, how to phrase the questions to get good data, how big a sample size you need and how to speak to your particular audience.

Even if you ultimately decide to use one of the more traditional methods of collecting data (paper surveys, phone polls, or in-person conversations), take some time to read through the tips and guidelines these companies provide to make the most of your efforts.

Ask Why

The first question you need to ask yourself is: “Why do we need the data?” What kinds of decisions do we need to make? What is it we are trying to learn?

For instance, if you want to attract more donors to your organization, you might ask your current donors what inspired them to get involved. You might also ask for demographic information and about their interests, to find out what type of person resonates with your cause. Then you can go out and find more people like them. You might ask how they found out about you so you can determine the best channels for discovering new donors.

On the other hand, if you want to connect better with your existing donors, you might ask what they want to get out of their relationship with your organization. You might ask what types of events appeal to them. What kinds of activities would they invite their friends to participate in? How do they prefer to receive communication from you? Do they like email? Or is social media a better way to connect with them? You could ask for feedback on a recent event in order to improve your process for next year.

Whatever it is, first answer the question “Why?” Why do you need the information? What will it help you decide or do? What do you want to learn?

Keep it Simple

Everyone is busy and your donors are no exception. Make your survey short and sweet. If you’ve clarified why you need the information, you’ll be able to be very focused and clear in designing the questions. It may help to let your donors know how long it takes to complete the survey. People are more likely to answer your questions if they know it will only take five minutes.

Check in Regularly

You want to stay in touch with your donors, but you also don’t want to bore them. If there’s information you need to gather from your donors, you could send out a survey once a quarter, for instance. Just make sure you are asking relevant questions and not the same ones over and over. If your donors see that your organization is evolving and growing, they’ll be more likely to provide you with valuable feedback.

Use the Information Wisely

If you’ve designed a good survey, it can provide valuable information for improving your process, charting a new direction or connecting more effectively with your donors. Share what you’ve learned and how you’ve improved as a result. When donors know their voice has been heard—and heeded—they’ll be more likely to engage more actively in your cause (and to take the next survey, should you present one).

So much of our communication with donors is one way—there’s plenty to share about what the organization is doing. Surveys provide your donors with a means of sharing back with you, to let you know how well you are doing and what can be improved. Used well, surveys can be a way to engage your donors more effectively in your cause.

Prospect Research Whitepaper Downloadable Guide

Written by Tracey Lorts with Greater Giving, your resource for fundraising technology solutions and ideas for nonprofit fundraising events. Download your free Auction Planner:

About chris
[Guest Post] Have You Surveyed Your Donors Lately?