How not to mess up your fundraising survey

If you want to use a survey in your fundraising, the most important thing to know is this: Fundraising surveys are not research.

A survey that’s part of an effective fundraising message is lousy research. And a survey that’s designed to get meaningful research would be lousy fundraising.

Here’s why: The purpose of a fundraising survey is to get people thinking about your issue and saying yes about it. So when you ask, it’s easy for them to say yes one more time. That means you ask softball questions that have obvious yes answers.

Real research studiously avoids leading questions, because it wants considered answers — yes or no.

So if you want to field a survey, make sure it’s clear up-front whether it’s a fundraising survey or a research survey. Don’t ruin your fundraising survey with research questions. Or don’t ruin your research survey with fundraising questions.


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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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About the blogger

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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