I've looked at the reasons why, now let's focus on the five key steps in developing an effective donor survey.
1 Ensure everyone within your organization understands and buys in to the reasons behind the survey. If they aren't sure or unconvinced - refer them to my earlier post on the five reasons why surveys rock!
This is incredibly important. Like anything you do, if people behind it don't support what you're doing, the whole thing can fall over.
The survey is being done for genuinely good reasons. It will help you get closer to your donors, which in turns help them get closer to your benefactors.
Finally, ensure that colleagues realize that this is an annual supporter survey, to be rolled out year on year. That allows you to monitor changes in donor attitudes, update crucial information and continue to support other fundraising efforts such as your planned giving program. We have clients at Pareto Fundraising who have run for and five surveys and who get the same level of response year after year.
2 Include well thought through, strategic questions.
This can be the time consuming and frustrating part of the process because once you've achieved buy in, everyone wants their 20 cents worth.
You need to be incredibly disciplined about this and when discussing potential questions ask yourself and your colleagues this..
Is the answer to this questions going to be 'just interesting' or can I use this information in some way?
I'm not suggesting that you can't include 'filler' questions that deliver 'just interesting' but I would limit them (say no more than 20% of the questions should be this type). An example of a filler question is asking someone what other charities they support. I'm yet to see a charity actually get any real use out of this question, but everyone finds it.. you guessed it, interesting!
You want to ask questions that uncover motivations for support, specific areas of interest, whether someone has a particular affinity with your cause, what they really think about your performance etc.
I'll talk more about how to use this information in Part Three.
3 Make it look and feel like an appeal mailing.
In other words, use all the things that work when you send an appeal/renewal mailing. Long letter, brilliant copy, a real story (case study), a clear message repeated throughout the letter, a deadline.
I'd encourage you, as always, to test the things above and other bits and pieces, like the inclusion of images throughout the survey and the layout and structure of the questions.
4 Ask for a cash/one off donation as well as asking them to fill in a survey.
How could we forget to ask! This is one example of where you can confidently and effectively ask someone to do two things within one communication. We have tested with our clients at Pareto Fundraising the inclusion of a cash ask within surveys and it doesn't suppress response to the survey. So as long as you ask appropriately and clearly, ensure there is an ask in the letter.
I'll talk about who to send the survey to in Part Three.
5 Promise to feedback, and make sure you then do it.
In the covering letter as well as being really clear about why you are asking your donors to complete the survey, let them know you will feedback some of the findings. Give them an approximate date you will feedback.
And then make sure you do it. It ca be in the form of a donor care letter, I.e. a non ask/feedback letter, or even within your next newsletter.
The main thing is promise to feedback and then follow through on it (within 2-3 months of the survey being sent).
If you follow the five key steps below you're well on your way to producing an inspiring, useful and effective donor engagement and fundraising tool.
Next I'll talk about some key things to consider before you get the survey in the post.