Do You Survey Your Donors?

While looking through Lynne Wester’s website last year, I came across a sample donor survey that she used and this inspired me to integrate these surveys into my stewardship efforts.  As a result, I included a survey and return envelope with the annual President’s Report to Donors (which went out in hard copy and via e-mail), and was mailed to a few hundred donors last Fall.  Of the approximately 400 surveys that were distributed, I received about 7% of the surveys back (between hard copies mailed in and web submissions).

While I was primarily interested in gathering feedback from our donors on this stewardship piece that was just in its second year, I was also able to:

  • deepen relationships with donors based on their responses to a question about what areas of our work they would like to learn more about
  • gather more information about the donors through follow-up phone calls and letters

Because of the survey, I identified donors who are interested in I-House’s music programming and its history (which provided a way to connect with a donor who is a second-generation alumnus).  It also resulted in a donor making an Annual Fund gift twice as large as what she usually gives (which helped us with the multi-year challenge grant we completed at the end of last month — and about which I will be sharing in a future post).  I found this to be a really great way to touch donors without making an ask and provide a rare opportunity to get their input.  If you can, you should definitely integrate surveys into your stewardship strategy.

To learn about an interesting donor survey strategy, check out Pamela Grow’s blog post — Could You Borrow the Smartest Thing I Ever Did?

Have you used donor surveys before?  What kind of response did you get?  Did you find them useful?

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