CDE project 3 sum­ma­ry: sat­is­fac­tion and commitment

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
May 06, 2017

Measuring satisfaction and loyalty: How do your donors feel?

Roger Lawson, February 2017

Reviewed by: Jim Baggett

Summary guidance


We believe that an obsession with short-term financial KPIs is the single biggest reason that donors are dissatisfied with the way charities fundraise. It forces us to follow ever more aggressive strategies in order to achieve the target amount of income or new donors.

It also means that we never understand the impact of our communications in terms of how we make donors feel about us, or how emotionally engaged they are with us.

Measuring lifetime value is a step forward. It’s something many charities do, and it encourages all of us to think about how today’s actions affect giving in the future. But it is still measuring transactions, not feelings.

If you are reading this, we assume that you want to improve the experience your donors have of giving to you. In the belief that if you don’t measure it you won’t do it, we strongly believe that you need to have KPIs in place for measuring the impact of that improvement in the donor experience.

In short, you need to be measuring how donors feel – their loyalty, commitment or satisfaction.

Here are the principles that sit behind our recommendations.


We believe that it is essential to measure the emotional loyalty that donors feel if you are serious about improving the donor experience. We have outlined five steps to follow to achieve this goal.

1. Commit to growing donor loyalty by delivering a better donor experience.

  • We haven’t just said ‘offer a better experience’; we’ve said that you should do this to ‘grow donor loyalty’ – that is the aim.
  • Understand that making donors feel good about supporting you is good for them and good for you, as it will help you raise long term income.
  • There is a growing body of evidence that making your donors feel good about giving to you leads to longer term, more valuable support.

2. Find out the emotional results that donors value and want from you

  • Keep it simple, so discover what is most important to your donors and focus on that.
  • There is no substitute for knowing why donors give and what they need or want from you.

See CDE project 6 – The use an misuse of emotion.

3. Measure how they feel

  • Once you know what your donors value, measure how well you deliver.
  • This is not about stopping your existing measurement of response and income, but building on it to understand how your communications (especially fundraising) influence how donors feel about you.

4. Report it
You should report your findings. By telling colleagues (as many people as possible), you will grow understanding of what donors need, share your commitment to giving them a better experience and increase colleagues’ confidence to invest in actually delivering it.

5. Use this learning to change something. Test it and measure again. Keep improving.
Once you have measured donor feeling, decide what you think you need to do better and test something different –  anything!  – and monitor changes in both how the donors feel and how they behave.

Click on the image below to see Project 3 summary only - PDF format

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About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 3 section 1: actions and approach

This section may be called Measurement, but it’s actually about culture, strategy and people. 

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CDE project 3 section 2: putting the principles and actions into practice - step 1 and 2

Step 1: Make a commitment to growing donor satisfaction and loyalty

Read more

CDE project 3 section 3: Making it happen

We have seen that there are lots of things that you can measure, but you don’t have to measure them all. Just choose one! 

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CDE project 3 appendix 1: measurement of satisfaction and loyalty in action

There are several companies and a few charities who measure how their customers and supporters feel, using some of the tools we have outlined in this document or their own methodologies. 

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CDE project 3 appendix 2: frequently asked questions

In our research (see Appendix 4), several people mentioned barriers to measuring how their donors feel. This section lists the most common of these and gives our advice.

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CDE project 3 appendix 3: sample questions

A quick Google search will bring up many sample questionnaires, but for ease we have included a couple here.

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CDE project 3 appendix 4: survey findings

Fundraisers were surveyed about the extent to which the fundraiser measured how their donors feel, how they used the findings (if they did) and what barriers they have come across.

Read more