Are you ready to survey your donors effectively?

Posted November 1, 2018 by Virginia Davidson

donor survey

How well do you know your donors?

The more you understand the reasons your existing donors support your organization, the better you’ll be able to steward them and implement strategies to attract new donors. You won’t know unless you ask, and surveys can be an effective way to collect valuable information.

Here are some questions to consider when creating a survey for your donors:


What is your goal for your donor survey?

Establish a clear goal and keep that goal in mind as you craft each question of your survey. The questions you ask need to serve a purpose beyond just providing you with potentially interesting insights into your donors.

Are you prepared to make changes based on the survey responses?

Unless you’re at a point where you’ll be able to make a plan of action when you examine the survey responses, you should likely hold off on sending a survey. For example, if you’re asking donors if they’d welcome a quarterly newsletter, you’ll need to be ready to implement a quarterly newsletter if the response is positive.

Who will you ask?

Your goal for the survey will help you define who should receive it. You might send your survey to new donors in the current fiscal year; to attendees of a particular special event; or to donors who’ve given consecutively for five years or more. Regardless of whom you target, consider omitting your major donors from the recipient list; it’s likely more appropriate to glean this information from your major donors in face-to-face interactions as part of your stewardship plan for those donors.

Are your donors ready to be asked to take a survey?

Do a quick audit of your organization’s recent touches with your intended survey recipients. If they haven’t yet been thanked for their last donation or the only mail they’ve received from you in the past year is a solicitation, it’s important to connect with them before asking them to complete a survey. Consider putting together and sending them an ask-free communication several weeks before your survey goes out.

How short can you make your survey?

The shorter and simpler the survey is, the more likely your donors are to respond!


We hope the above questions will help you create a well-prepared survey that you can use to strengthen your organization’s development efforts.

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