How (and When) to Use Donor Surveys at Your Nonprofit

Donor Acquisition and Retention

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How (and When!) to Use Donor Surveys at Your Nonprofit

If you’ve been in the fundraising industry for 10 minutes, you know about donor segmentation. You know it’s important, that it’ll help you raise more money, and that it helps you retain donors. But how do you collect the data you need to segment your donors?

You might be tempted to ask donors questions about themselves on your donation form. But you also know that adding extra fields to donation forms hurts conversion rates. How on earth are you supposed to learn about your donors?

It’s simple: you use donor surveys.

What Can Donor Surveys Do?

Guys, donor surveys are amazing. They do more than just collect data. Donor surveys can also help you with event planning, volunteer activities, donor recruitment, and so much more! Anything you want to know about donors, you just ask!

Want to know about your donors’ age, zip code, preferences, or ideals? Ask your donors!

Need feedback about a recent event? Ask your donors!

Looking for ideas for your next volunteer opportunity? Ask your donors!

Donor surveys are tragically under-utilized in a lot of nonprofit organizations. And it’s easy to see why! You’re a professional fundraiser, so you’re busy with campaigns, goals, and events. You might be worried about “bothering” their donors or over-soliciting information. Your team might not be comfortable with asking for direct feedback.

But here’s a little secret: In addition to helping you collect data….

Donor Surveys Strengthen Relationships with Donors

Donor surveys are valuable donor retention tools! If they’re handled well, they’ll help you keep your donors engaged by:

  • Showing them their opinion is valuable
  • Making them feel invested in your cause
  • Connecting them more strongly to your organization
  • Engaging them beyond monetary asks

See? They’re so useful! And there are tons of survey resources out there that help you create a survey for little to no up-front investment. So they’re effective AND low cost!

When Should I Send My Donor Surveys?

The timing of your donor surveys will vary based on what you’re asking your donors. Here are a few common scenarios and how they’d work:

Post-donation donor surveys

We highly recommend that you ask donors to do a favor for you after they’ve made a gift (learn more about the Ben Franklin Effect to understand why). Why not ask them to fill out a donor survey?

This is a great place to ask your donors questions that will help you polish your marketing and awareness campaigns. Try asking donors how they found your page, what inspired them to give, and how they’d like future updates from your team.

Post-event donor surveys

There are two great ways to gauge your event’s success. First, you look at the net amount raised (total amount raised minus expenses). Then, you look at the intangible benefits — that’s where donor surveys come in!

A day or two after the event, ask attendees how they felt about the event. Did they have fun? Would they have changed anything? What feedback can they provide? That kind of feedback is invaluable, and it’ll be useful as you plan upcoming events.

Year-end donor surveys

When it’s time to evaluate your nonprofit’s success at the end of the year, donor surveys are going to be your best friends. This is a fantastic time to send targeted surveys that will help you gauge your effectiveness in different areas! Ask donors questions like:

  • Which campaigns did they like? Which fell flat?
  • How did you do with your communication?
  • Are donors happy with their current relationship with your organization?
  • What would they like to see you continue doing in the next year?
  • What would they like to see you do differently?
Peer-to-Peer Follow-Up Surveys

Peer-to-peer fundraising events require a ton of time, effort, and investment if they’re going to be a success. Make sure sure you’re using your resources efficiently by gauging your success after the event. You can send post-event surveys to donors, participants, and team captains alike. They’ll give you valuable feedback about their experiences and how you can improve your event for next time.

Donor Survey Resources

If you want to start sending donor surveys and don’t know where to start, we have some ideas for you.

First, you can check out this donor stewardship plan. It’s an editable template you can use to plan your interactions with donors, including donor surveys. Then, head over to our post-event survey template. It’s a great starting point for a post-event survey, and you can tweak it for other purposes!

If you need a method for conducting a survey, Google Forms are an option for anyone with a Google account! At Qgiv, we’ve often used SurveyMonkey, a popular survey-building product. We promise that’s not a sponsored link — we just really like them!

And hey, Qgiv clients: if you have questions about including donor surveys on your donation form’s thank-you page or receipts, we can help you! Just call us or contact us online.

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