Ask and Ye Shall Receive: How Donor Surveys Can Give You and Your Supporters a Lift!

Date Published
Kathy Giles

People love to give their opinions. It is part of human nature. This is particularly true when they are personally invested in something and have a direct interest. They give their opinion because they care and feel they can provide something of value.

When we look at the donor-organization relationship, for the most part donors interact through their giving behavior. But is this a fulfilling relationship?

If a donor is only interacting with you through the act of making a donation, the relationship can feel very one-sided. The donor has no other way to communicate why he/she supports you or what is important to him/her. The relationship looks more like an ATM.

This is why surveys can be an important tool to help develop the donor relationship and bridge this communication divide. They allow you to actively engage the donor and give the donor the opportunity to provide input. And you might just learn something in return.

Surveys are a fantastic device to use to accomplish two main objectives: (1) encouraging donor engagement, and (2) obtaining feedback to the organization. And because they can be tailored to your needs, you are in control of the information.

Tips for creating a Survey:

  1. Determine what you want to learn and how you will use the information. Will you:
    1. Record the donor’s personal interests in their record to be leveraged later to deepen the relationship?
    2. Ask for feedback on a new program or an event to be used for administrative purposes?
    3. Use it purely for donor engagement to make the donor feel valued – but not record the answers in the donor record?
  2. The Audience. Who will receive this? (examples):
    1. New donors – to begin building a strong relationship.
    2. Lapsed donors – to remind them why they supported you in the past.
    3. Current donors – to gain feedback or to just give them a way to share their opinions.
    4. Major gift donors – to heighten their engagement.
    5. Sustainers – to help maintain the relationship.
    6. Prospects and acquisition – to help them connect with the mission.
  3. Keep it short! You don’t want to make this a chore for the donor. Limit the survey to around eight questions. And design the questions based on the audience, what you want to learn, and how you will use the information.
  4. Multiple choice answers.
    1. If you will record the information in the donor record, multiple choice answers will help you keep your data clean and available for analysis and segmentation.
    2. Keep open-ended questions to a minimum. Most of the questions should be multiple choice to make it easier for the donor to answer them.
  5. How will it be delivered?
    1. Mail
    2. Email
    3. Even phone, depending on the audience.

Surveys can seem like a challenge to create, but they don’t need to be. If you stick with what you want to learn, who you want to ask, and what you will do with the information, you will be able to maintain your focus and achieve your goals.

And the reward can be plentiful. Surveys can help create more loyal donors because you are telling them their opinion matters and they are appreciated and valued. At the same time, they can help you collect useful information to better understand your donor base as well as the individual donor.

Remember, it is OK not to record every data point. The survey may include just one question that you really want answered; the rest of the survey is about engaging the donor and keeping the lines of communication open.

If you currently do not include surveys as part of you donor communication plan, now is the time to start. Surveys are a hardworking and useful engagement device that will benefit you as well as your donor.

Contact us to learn how Allegiance Fundraising solutions make it quick and easy to create specialized mobile-friendly survey and donation pages.

About the Author:
Kathy Giles
Director of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

As an Account Director with Agency Services I work with clients to develop their direct response, annual giving, and membership programs. I am responsible for the strategy, budget, creative oversight, planning, and results reporting for each campaign as well as ensuring we are meeting all client expectations. I also work to build the client relationship to not only retain the client, but to also look for opportunities to increase activities with clients, through any of our three business areas. And new business is always on the radar!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

With the three divisions, we have more opportunities to support our clients. We can extend the services offered to provide more full-service-oriented solutions to current and prospective clients, allowing AFG to become more involved with a client’s program. This also allows for more growth and learning, on a personal note.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

To feed my love of stories and storytelling, I went to school for film production, with a concentration in documentary film. I have had the opportunity to work on a few documentaries including one for the United Nations on the history of interpretation where I was able to visit several embassies and spoke with the amazing people in the UN Interpretation Service.

Today, I get to tell the stories of the non-profit clients I work with.

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