Get to know your donor: The importance of donor surveys to help your charity grow

Analytics and reports

It’s easy to assume you know your donors well.

You ask for support; they say yes or no. 

Or, you ask for money, and sometimes they don’t respond.

Donors contact you to change their mail frequency, let you know about their events, and offer to volunteer. 

With efficient record-keeping systems in place, you can be forgiven for thinking your accessibility means you have an understanding of what your donor needs from you, and when.

But that may not be the case.

The only way to truly know who your donors and potential donors are and what they need, is to ask them.

Regular surveys are an essential relationship-building tool that will help you get to know your donors on a deeper level.

If you’re not regularly surveying your donors, you’re missing a golden opportunity to connect with those who have the most significant impact on helping you achieve your mission.

How to create a donor survey

Automated surveying tools such as TypeForm and Survey Monkey make it easy for you to get to know your donor. With most having built-in templates and an automated email tool, it’s reasonably straightforward to contact donors to find out more about them.

Follow these tips to create a survey that will help your charity grow.

Focus attention on the donor

While it can be tempting to talk about the needs of you and your charity, that’s unlikely to encourage a donor to respond. Let recipients know you want to improve their experience with the organisation, and their contribution is significant to your mission. Making statements about ‘I’ and ‘we’ is unlikely to encourage a donor’s response.

Plan the follow-up

Before you collate survey results, you must implement an immediate follow-up plan. Some donors may have sent in a financial gift with their results. Others may have taken the opportunity to make a serious complaint. If you receive anything other than survey results, have a plan to act on this as if you’ve received it through any other channel.

Collate and analyse data

Gathering data can help identify who your supporters are and what encourages them to give. You can find out essential demographic information such as age, income and location which will help you build future campaigns that appeal and get to know your donors more intimately.

Detailed analysis of data collected will help you make changes to your campaigns and marketing efforts leading to long-term funding success. Update donor records with survey results and create a visual analysis that will help you further get to know your key supporters.

Set clear objectives

While any contact is good contact, you must have a point to your survey to allow you to measure the success.

  • Are you trying to create a funding project for major donors?
  • Are you hoping to segment your database further by specific criteria?
  • Or are you looking to create content that appeals to the bulk of your donors?

An unstructured and pointless line of questioning will do little more than irritate the recipient so make sure you’re always leading towards a point, and you have clear, achievable objectives.

Don’t make an ask

Your survey isn’t the time to ask for more support. Some recipients will be triggered to donate but make it clear that the point of the survey is to find out more about them so that you can meet their needs better. Tagging on a request for support will dilute the importance of the donor response.

Say thank you

In most cases, your donor won’t get anything for responding apart from your thank you. If you have the opportunity, display gratitude by entering them into a competition, sending a small and inexpensive token, or acknowledging them in a newsletter.

Show gratitude for their participation to encourage them to answer more questions in future.

And, repeat!

Your donor database is growing, your programs are evolving, and you need to stay in regular contact with those responsible for making it all happen.

Repeat donor surveys every year or two to help gain a more comprehensive understanding of your donors and make them feel like part of the family.

What to ask:

Depending on the point to your survey, you may want to ask the following:

Personal/demographic information:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Employment status

General questions:

  • What attracted them to your cause
  • How they like to receive correspondence
  • Do they feel like they receive too much or not enough communication?
  • How do they rate their overall experience with you?
  • Would they consider leaving a gift in their Will?

Comprehensive analysis of survey results is a key feature of the SupporterHub donor management platform. To find out how SupporterHub can help you get to know your donor’s better, sign up today and get 14 days free. Get started here.

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