How to use surveys to improve your fundraising

Have you been thinking about fielding a survey?

The first thing you must do is know what kind of survey you want to do — what its purpose is. If you fall between the cracks and don’t nail down the purpose, you can waste a lot of time and money getting bad information.

There are three main types of surveys of donors:

  1. Research surveys. When you want to learn something about your donor file, this is what you do. Unless you are an experienced researcher, don’t do this on your own! A properly-done survey is careful about who is contacted and how — and questions are carefully engineered to minimize info-destroyers like survey bias. Be prepared to spend some money on it. But it may be worth it.
  2. Fundraiser surveys. Real researchers hate these, because they look exactly like surveys, but they don’t function to give valid research findings. They are packed with leading questions designed to put the respondent in a giving frame of mind. These are successful if they raise money. They are not a research tool. The information results are utterly useless.
  3. Connection surveys. These also look just like surveys, but they aren’t about learning about your donor file. They are about connecting with the people who return the survey. They are very good at getting people thinking about their values and connection with you. They also help uncover important donors, like monthly donors, mid-value donors, and potential bequest donors. They are the best known tool for finding bequest leads.

All three of these survey types are valid and potentially useful. Just be careful not to use the wrong kind for the goals you choose.


Comments

2 responses to “How to use surveys to improve your fundraising”

  1. I’d love to see some well-done examples of each of these types of surveys. Great post, as usual.

  2. I’d love to see some well-done examples of each of these types of surveys. Great post, as usual.

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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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