Survey Your Monthly Donors. They’ll Love You for It!

by Erica Waasdorp, Nonprofit Pro

One of those fundraising mantras I’ve heard over the years is: If you ask for advice, you’ll get money. If you ask for money, you’ll get advice. I’ve also heard that sometimes you should take responses to surveys with a grain of salt. What people say and do is different sometimes.

Well that may be true, but like anything, it all depends on what the survey is for. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Your monthly donors are already supporting you. You really don’t have much to lose by asking them some questions.
  • They will feel honored you value their opinion. In other words, make it part of your engagement communications plan.
  • You’ll be able to get testimonials you can use to reach out to other potential monthly donors.
  • Keep your surveys short and sweet, between three and seven questions ideally. You’re better off doing shorter surveys a few times a year than one really long survey, where donors just aren’t going to have the time and interest to do. And then they’ll never do them ever again in future.
  • Offer to keep the survey anonymous, but make sure you ask for the donor’s name or email address. Also remember to ask if you’re able to ask follow-up questions. Not everybody will do it, but many will be happy to complete that, so you can indeed follow-up. What if you get a really great quote from your donor, and you’d like to see if they’d be willing to put that on video?
  • Don’t ask questions with answers you’re not able to honor. For example, if you’re asking the monthly donor how often they’d like to hear from you, and you give them options, make sure you can indeed fulfill that option.
  • Try to keep the number of open-ended questions limited, but always have the “Other” option so donors can add special comments.
  • Test your survey by inviting someone else to answer it before you go live to make sure that it all works the way you’d like it to work. I do a ton of surveys and every now and then, there’s an impossible answer or the buttons don’t work. That’s very frustrating.
  • Make sure you work in a thank-you at the end before the donor hits submit and it goes to the general survey page.
  • Include a contact person name and number in case the donor has any questions.
  • Give an introduction: Why are you sending me this survey?
  • After the survey responses are in, I recommend sending a short recap in an email to your monthly donors to share what you learned. This may generate further engagement.

In short, surveys, if done well, are a great way to connect with your monthly donors (and other supporters for that matter). And you’ll find out some things you’d otherwise never uncover. You can use those learnings for future fundraising, and you may uncover some wonderful nuggets.

Here are just three questions I recommend you include in your first monthly donor survey:

  1. What motivated you to give monthly? (Open-ended)
  2. Which programs are most important to you? (With “Other” option)
  3. Do you have any questions for us? (Open-ended)

As you get more comfortable with surveys, you can start adding in questions about the donor’s interest in leaving the organization in their will and preferred ways of communication. You could also get permission to add a phone number to the donor’s information and get permission to start text communication.

But like anything with monthly giving, a short survey at a time will help monthly donors get more engaged and thus keep them longer and really grow your program to higher levels.

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