Fundraising Idea Gold: Donor Surveys

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Donor surveys are powerful, yet underutilized.

Do you know your donor’s age? If you intend on cultivating and engaging them, you must know their age. A donor survey can help you secure their DOB plus other vital information that you need.

Donors commonly say they did not give again because they disliked the way they were asked. Don’t let this happen to your donor program. A donor survey can reveal their preferred means of communication (e.g., phone, text, e-mail, snail mail) as well as preferred times (evening, weekends). Then, integrate this information into your donor database and respect your donors’ expressed wishes. This will limit the risk of irritating them.

Ask Just A Few Questions

Here’s an example of a donor survey.

Add your own opening sentence at the start of the survey about why you’re sending the survey and why they should return it. Say what’s in it for them!

  1. Is our information correct? Please complete the below so that we can confirm.Name

    Address

    Best Phone

    E-mail Address

    Date of Birth

  2. Would you like a phone call or a visit with us? (check all that apply)
    • Yes, please call me at ________________________
    • Yes, I would enjoy a visit, please contact me.
  3. I would like to do more to support [Organization Name]’s mission. (check all that apply)
    • Find out about leaving a gift to [Organization] in my estate plans.
    • Join [Organization]’s monthly donor program.
    • Host a home or workplace gathering to support our mission.
  4. Please tell us anything else you would like our Executive Director to be aware of regarding your impressions of [Organization] and how to improve the effectiveness of our outcomes. Use the back of this paper if necessary.

Some donor surveys are much longer, with up to 30 questions. You can see samples of those at Bloomerang. No matter the length, make sure the survey is professionally copyedited before sending it.


How Should I Send It?

You can email or mail the survey to all or a segment of your donors at any time, or use Survey Monkey, who has created a ready to use 10-question terrific template just for this purpose!

My favorite method is to include the survey when you are sending the donor a thank-you note. Always include a postage-paid reply envelope.

What About Surveying Lapsed Donors?

Donor surveys are also terrific for learning why a donor stopped giving. Lapsed donors could be strictly defined as any donor that didn’t give to the last appeal, but generally it applies to donors who have not given in a year.

As you know from reading my blog post about repeat giving, engaging donors for higher level giving is essential, but retaining a donor is vastly more cost efficient than finding new donors. This is why bringing back a lapsed donor is worth the effort.

My colleague Pamela Grow brought this lapsed donor survey from Ontario Nature to my attention and you may find it just the thing to replicate.

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We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

Editor’s note: After following these great steps from Laurence, get some additional benchmark insights into donor behavior in Blackbaud Institute’s 2017 Charitable Giving Report.

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