How to Boost Revenue with Donor Surveys
People want to do good, and most will embrace philanthropy on some level. They do have nearly endless choices for their giving, however, so they need to be convinced that a specific cause is worth their efforts. Once you recruit donors, you must work to keep them invested in your nonprofit’s efforts and success. This is where donor surveys can help.
Donors have excellent motives and want to help you succeed, but other factors enter into the donor/recipient relationship. Donors are not entirely selfless. They need to feel rewarded for their efforts, although not all donors want the same type of reward. The psychology of philanthropy is complicated and sometimes difficult to unravel.
Maintaining current donor revenue and attracting new donors takes constant work. If you want to maximize donor participation, you need to engage them on multiple levels and change your approach whenever necessary You can determine how to do that by constructing effective donor surveys. When you ask the right questions, you will better understand how to please your donors and boost revenue as a result.
“Philanthropy lies at the heart of human greatness.” Patrick J. Ryan
Donors are usually driven to give if they are financially able to do so and are interested in helping others. They also need to find a cause that aligns with their values and interests. When these three needs are met, the donor has the potential be a dedicated and long-term supporter.
Researchers have long noted that many donors receive a boost in self-esteem from giving to a cause that they find worthy and one where they can make a tangible difference. So, most donations benefit the recipient and the giver. However, some donors will give as long as they feel empathy for the recipient even it they do not benefit from the donation in any way. For this group, an emotional connection is most important.
Donors do not give in a vacuum. They have thousands of charitable options, so you must convince them that your organization is their best choice. When you survey your donors, you can discover what motivates them to give and what type of reward they need for their investment in your cause. People need to feel that their contribution matters.
Barriers to Giving
Identifying donor motives is essential to your fund-raising success, but you also need to identify barriers to donor contributions. Charitable entities must work to win over people who do not donate, often because they don’t think they can afford to do so. Others feel that they have already given enough to charity and are reluctant to do more.
Research shows that donors stop giving when they receive too many requests for funds; they find another cause they feel more passionately about, or their financial situation changes. Some donors drop out in reaction to changes in your organization. Still others stop contributing when they are no longer a part of the organization.
Your survey may reveal that those who volunteer at your nonprofit are more likely to contribute financially.Those who are not personally involved are less likely to give regularly.
A well-constructed donor survey can help you identify and address both motivations and barriers to giving, allowing you to adjust your efforts and gain the revenue boost that you need.
Constructing Donor Surveys
Donor surveys are an effective tool as long as you approach them in a careful and purposeful way. Your donors are already giving of themselves, and a survey asks even more of them – their time. You need to be considerate of their feelings whenever you ask them to complete “work” for your organization.
As a result, your survey needs to reflect your goals. Every question should be carefully crafted.
Focus and Purpose
You should ask well-constructed questions that give you the information that you need without requiring a big investment of time. For instance, if you want to understand your donor engagement level, ask about their attendance at events, their reading of the monthly newsletter, etc. Unfocused questions have no place on your survey. Experts also encourage you to keep the questions short and to the point. That way, the survey won’t be so long that it irritates your donors, something you simply cannot afford to do.
Aim at Subsets
Fundraising pros also suggest that your survey be aimed at specific subsets of your donor base. For instance, your nonprofit may have a number of regular small donors, such as those that give $25 or under. You might choose to construct a survey to help you understand their motivations so you can keep their interest and perhaps increase their giving. Or, you may want to survey only your top donors in an effort to maintain those relationships. That survey would obviously have a different set of of questions.
Taking your survey must be convenient for your donors, so developing an online option is usually the best option. Companies like DonorWERX can help you construct and deliver your survey and maximize responses. Unless your donors are comprised of a group that avoids the internet, paper surveys are outmoded and ineffective.
In addition to the above, you need to make certain that your survey is perfect in form and structure. Typos and grammatical errors will discourage donor participation and make your organization look unprofessional. These mistakes give your donors permission to ignore your survey.
You also need to test your online survey repeatedly to ensure that your donors will not encounter any technical difficulties. Any glitch will reduce the number of responses that you receive.
Some nonprofits offer incentives to donors for taking their surveys, but, in general, that measure should only be considered if the survey is longer and more intricate than most are. Usually, you will count on the good will of your donors to receive the feedback you request. Only in special circumstances should you offer gift cards or other rewards since incentives can easily become quite expensive.
Constructing an effective survey takes time and careful thought. While some of the questions will simply elicit demographic information, others will be aimed at getting detailed donor feedback. You may choose to use a variety of question forms, including yes/no questions, multiple choice questions and open-ended questions. You will need to focus on quality and not quantity to keep the survey from being too time-consuming.
Following this article, we offer you a number of sample questions you can adapt to suit your own organization’s needs.
When to Survey
Determining when to survey donors depends on your individual nonprofit. You may decide a survey is called for if donations are suddenly down or if you are working on a new fundraising strategy. Organizations commonly create surveys before a special event to help make the occasion more pleasing to donors. Or, you may choose to survey donors after an event to learn what worked and what did not.
You shouldn’t reserve surveys for special occasions, however. Many nonprofits survey their donors at the end of every year or after they have made a donation. Of course, you don’t want to cause survey fatigue, so pick and choose your times carefully.
Once you’ve received the data, you will need to study it and identify trends in donations. You should be able to see what gender and age group is giving more, how involved they are in your organization and whether they routinely give to other nonprofits. Depending on the questions you ask, you will be able to judge what motivates your donors and what they need to be better satisfied with your efforts.
Your job is then to followup on the information you have received by taking action. Perhaps your donors don’t feel as engaged as they should or they express donation fatigue. You and your staff can then formulate strategies to deal with these concerns. Gathering the information does not help anyone if you do not use it in a concrete fashion.
It’s Time to Excel with Donor Surveys
Donor surveys are necessary to help you maintain healthy revenue levels. If you haven’t been surveying your donors regularly, you need to begin to do so. Donors generally don’t resent surveys as long as they are well-done, relatively brief and address donor needs.
The information that you get from these surveys allows you to identify both strengths and weaknesses in your organization’s fundraising efforts. You’ll be able to assess your donor’s motivations and reservations and address these issues in upcoming events.
Donors give for a variety of motivations and rewards. A simple, well-executed survey is one tool to help you understand those who make your efforts possible. After all, most people do want to make the world a better place: They just need to find the right fit for their beliefs and their financial means.
“One of the great movements in my lifetime among educated people is the need to commit themselves to action. Most people are not satisfied with giving money; we also feel we need to work.”