Donor satisfaction isn’t measured only by dollars raised. Your organization’s sustainability rests equally as much on how satisfied your donors are with how well you are attacking your mission, how well you are treating them and using their donations, and how much they feel they can trust in you for the future.
Conducting this kind of a survey isn’t easy to do, and the task moves to the back burner all too often. If you can’t hire a professional consultant to conduct a scientific inquiry, and if you’re not currently involved in a feasibility study in anticipation of your next campaign, there are online services (like survey monkey) who provide templates and analytics to guide you through the survey process. You’ll also want to consult books and online resources for ideas on particular aspects of surveying.
Here are a few basics to consider when getting started on assessing what your donors think of you and how satisfactory their interactions with you are:
First, always tell the person you are asking what the purpose of your survey is. Your purpose might be to better understand how donors perceive your organization’s effectiveness, what impels them to contribute, what areas of your activities draw the greatest interest, how they perceive your staff, to what degree is the message you think you’re sending the one the donor is receiving. Don’t try to tackle too much. The greater the time commitment required to complete the survey, the fewer responses you’ll get. And you risk being a “pain in the neck” and losing an otherwise favorable ranking.
Advance planning should identify 5-10 questions you’d like to address. In choosing questions, consider what use you will make of the information you receive. Let’s look at some questions you might include to measure the perception of your organization in the community:
How well does the person understand what we do? What do they perceive as our mission?
Do they identify other organizations as better suited to do what we do?
What do they see as our strengths? What could we do better?
How well do they believe we are using their dollars?
What would be the most compelling reason for others in the community to support us?
How effective are our materials?
And always include space for anything else the responder would like to say to you.
Read up on how to frame your questions and how to format possible responses (Always, sometimes, never; write a comment; on a scale of 1-10). Your survey is of little value if all the answers say you are wonderful.
There’s no anticipating what you will learn. The outcome might be something entirely other than what you expect. But you’ll no longer be operating under untested assumptions about who gives to you and why.
Once you glean the information, then you launch a plan for how you intend to address these concerns.
And make a plan for the next survey you should do—the next area of donor experience you need to have more information about. Good luck!