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Getting donor feedback: Q&A

Today, every cog in the machine is expected to have a voice. Every organization has at least some type of customer service department. It often seems we cannot purchase any product or service without receiving requests to leave a review or provide personal feedback about the experience. Word-of-mouth is stronger and more powerful than any amount of marketing dollars and public relations efforts, and who could ever forget the age-old adage, “the customer is always right?”

In the world of nonprofits, the same is true. Yes, you may be providing a service for others in exchange for donations from supporters, but the premise is still the same: for nonprofits, your donors are your customers. Are you listening to what they have to say?

Keep reading, for some helpful tips on how to better connect with your donors and why receiving feedback from them can be mutually beneficial to both the organization and donor.

Q: What is the point of asking donors for their feedback?

A: People aren’t blindly throwing their money at things anymore; they are voting with their wallets. In other words, people have the increased expectation of brands and organizations to be transparent in regard to values and beliefs. Additionally, no person or organization is perfect. If you as its leader stubbornly remain stagnant in your ways, even if others have contributed ideas for change, you aren’t helping yourself or your cause.

Your audiences can be your biggest supporters and your loudest megaphones for garnering even more support…if you inspire them to do so. If you aren’t asking for their feedback about your organization and its efforts, you’re getting in the way of that through inaction. As mentioned before, your donors are your customers. Are you respecting and taking care of them?

Q: How should I ask them?

A: There are as many different ways to ask your donors for their feedback as there are personality types amongst them. Some of these include recruiting a board of directors, holding focus groups, conducting personal interviews, hosting donor events and distributing surveys. Surveys constitute the most efficient and cost-effective method of obtaining feedback from your donors. With surveys, you can ask both closed- and open-ended questions, you can get very specific feedback and you can direct the questions exactly the way you want. You are in control here.

Conducting a survey is relatively simple with the right survey tool. Three of the most popular are Google Forms, SurveyMonkey and Typeform. Once you’ve chosen one over the others and created an account, you need only craft your survey and send it out via email. Later we’ll touch on what to do with the responses.

Q: What type of questions should I ask?

A: When coming up with the questions you want to ask your donors, keep their best interests in mind throughout the process. It goes without saying to keep them short, sweet, and to the point; don’t bombard them with what is essentially an online exam. Be respectful of their time with meaningful, well-thought-out questions that make an impact. Additionally, make sure to emphasize to your donors that you are fully committed to making adjustments and changes to your organization and the way it does good in the world, based on the results of your survey.

Some questions you may want to ask could include:

  • How did you hear about [your organization]? This gives you a definitive idea of which of your marketing tactics is working the most effectively.
  • Why do you donate to [your organization]? If nothing else, this is great testimonial material. Not to mention, it ensures that your donors are in alignment with your mission.
  • How have your donations made a difference to [your program, the persons you serve, your community, etc]? Questions like this one help you understand if your are communicating the impact of donors’ gifts.
  • How do you like to be contacted? (by email, by mail, over the phone)
  • Is there anything you wish to see changed about the donation process? In other words, are there any ways we could make this easier for you, to save you time?

Q: When is the best time to request feedback from my donors?

A: Right now. Yesterday. Two years ago. Five years from now (see also: request feedback from your donors regularly.)

Q: What should I do with the feedback I receive from my donors?

A: The good thing about a survey is that you can run the most analysis (and therefore, create the most detailed action plan for change) following a survey because of its consistency with the exact same questions being asked of everyone. Your selected survey platform will have the tools to do this. Remember, you have committed to making changes based on these surveys, so follow through on that action plan.

Asking for feedback from your donors can seem intimidating or even unnecessary, but it paves the way to a better understanding of who your biggest supporters are. Conducting surveys is an easy way to show them you care about what they have to say.

Need more assistance with connecting with your donors? 4aGoodCause is here to help. Subscribe to our email list now to have more tools and guides like this one sent right to your inbox. Or, check out the rest of our blog!

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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