Surveys: a pack of lies most of the time

How can you tell if a donor is lying to you?

They’re answering a survey about what motivates them.

Okay, they probably aren’t exactly lying. But they might as well be, because they aren’t telling you the truth.

This matters to fundraisers because there is a lot of survey research out there that seems to be telling us useful facts about our donors — but it’s a pack of lies.

Here’s one example, from Neuromarketing: Sex, Lies, and Our Secret Motivators.

A new study by ad agency Young & Rubicam shows that while consumers consistently rates sex and other “non-virtuous” topics as low priorities or attention-getters for themselves, they are in fact very high on the list. Sex — which was rated at #14 out of 16 total categories in surveys — is number one in the unconscious testing.

… people can’t, or won’t, accurately answer surveys if the questions go beyond the simplest factual topics. Relying on asking people what they think is important in their lives, or about your product, is practically guaranteed to produce bogus results.

I’m not telling you this in order to recommend you try to use sex in fundraising. I doubt it would be effective, at least long-term. (As a wise old evangelist once told me, What you win them with is what you win them to.)

I’m telling you this because you should not believe what people tell you in surveys. They aren’t telling you the truth. They can’t.

Surveys can reveal interesting and useful information. But they are no good at uncovering donors’ real motivations. The only way to know that is watching what they do.


Comments

2 responses to “Surveys: a pack of lies most of the time”

  1. Halleluja!!!
    I like this quote: “The only way to know that is watching what they do.”
    Realtime observations of donor behavior beat predictive analytics and historical data every time.
    Kudos!

  2. Halleluja!!!
    I like this quote: “The only way to know that is watching what they do.”
    Realtime observations of donor behavior beat predictive analytics and historical data every time.
    Kudos!

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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