Sup­port­er sur­veys: what do your sup­port­ers real­ly think?, part 1

Annu­al sup­port­er sur­veys are a won­der­ful tool for deep­en­ing your sup­port­er rela­tion­ships. You will learn a great deal about your sup­port­ers ­– what inter­ests them, what are their con­cerns, what moti­vates them to give to you. If done well, sur­veys can raise imme­di­ate cash for your cause as well as help uncov­er the bequest and lega­cy poten­tial with­in your pool of supporters.

Written by
Jonathon Grapsas
December 21, 2011

Part one: five reasons why surveys are so important

In this three-part article, Jonathon Grapsas shares his passion for supporter surveys and provides a step-by-step guide for conducting an annual survey for your nonprofit organisation.

Reason 1

Surveys are a great way to involve donors. Executed correctly, a survey gives donors a real opportunity to do something that will help your cause, other than giving a donation.

My experience has shown that getting donors to do something in addition to donating increases their propensity to give to you, both at that time and later on. So in essence, by asking them to complete a good survey, you are increasing the value of that donor over time.

Reason 2

Surveys provide incredibly useful data about who your donors are, why they were motivated to support you, areas of your work that interests them, what they think about your work, how good a job they think your organisation is doing. In fact you can collect much more, including whether they have a personal affinity with your cause, for example perhaps they have lost a loved one to cancer or if you’re an animal welfare organisation you may capture the names of their pets.

However, once a donor gives you this information, you will need to use it appropriately and with respect. Used properly, this information allows you to ‘hyper-personalise’ communications with your donors. For example, if you later write to your donors with an appeal for funds, you could use their survey information like this:

‘...And I know from our recent survey Mrs. Jones that you, like me, are genuinely concerned about the current situation in Darfur. Which is why I am writing to you today...’

Reason 3

Surveys solicit feedback about your organisation. Not only are you asking supporters for information about them, you’re also gathering feedback about how donors think you are performing and whether they think you are spending their money on areas that are making a real difference. This is useful to measure over time, as well allowing you to have a conversation with someone who might not be convinced of the effectiveness of your actions.

Reason 4

It’s all about legacies (bequests). In terms of sheer impact, the biggest way to make your surveys pull their weight is by including a question about donors’ plans to include your charity in their will. This includes whether or not they have chosen to leave a gift to your organisation in their will, or whether they may be considering doing so.

I'll talk more about this in part three of the article, because it’s so important. You can transform your legacy programme by incorporating a supporter survey to identify existing and future legators (bequestors).

As a side note, there are also opportunities to include other prospecting-type questions in your survey: namely around monthly/regular giving, major gifts, events and volunteering.

Reason 5

Surveys help your donors to help you find new donors. Think about it. By providing demographic or biographic information about themselves, donors are helping you to develop a donor blueprint. You can then use this blueprint as a tool to develop your next round of acquisition targeting. This will help you to reach out to more people like the ones you currently have.

I hope I've convinced you about the power of surveys. Put simply, they rock.

If you need any more convincing, please let me know!

Bonus for SOFII users: Jonathan shares a very copy-able example of a supporter survey, here.

About the author: Jonathon Grapsas

Jonathon Grapsas is the founder and director at flat earth direct, an agency dedicated to fundraising and campaigning for good causes, with a particular bias toward digital and direct response. Jonathon has spent the last decade working with charities all around the world. Initially in the UK, and more recently in Canada and his native Australia.

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Supporter surveys: what do your supporters really think?, part 2

The second part of a three-part analysis of the benefits of annual supporter surveys.

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Supporter surveys: what do your supporters really think?, part 3

The final part of a three-part analysis of the benefits of annual supporter surveys.

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