When we think about using donor surveys to benefit fundraising efforts, we tend to think about gathering data for targeting and personalization, thereby increasing the likelihood that donors will reach into their wallets. But donor surveys can be tremendously useful in strategic planning for your next fundraising mailing, as well.
Let’s say you are a private high school looking to raise funds to replace grass athletic fields with artificial turf. Before mailing out your next fundraising letter, you decide to survey alumni and friends of the school who have donated to capital projects in the past.
Questions might include:
- Are you aware that our school is investing in an artificial turf field?
- Which do you think are the most important benefits of this technology?
- Are you concerned about any health risks associated with artificial turf?
- What competitive advantages both in athletics and marketing are gained by the schools we directly compete with because they have this technology?
- Do you know which of our direct competitors already have artificial turf?
Surveys can be sent in print or by email (consider using personalized URLs to capture responses and append them back to your database automatically) and the answers can help you plan your next marketing steps.
For example, if donors are aware of the performance benefits of artificial turf but are much less aware of other benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs to the school, lower water usage, and reduced use of pesticides and chemicals, this gives you talking points about the value of their donations they may not be aware of.
Likewise, even if donors are familiar with artificial turf, they may be unaware of which competitive schools already have this technology and the marketing advantages this creates for those schools. This allows you to position their donations as a way to help your school stay competitive.
Or perhaps donors have misconceptions about the health hazards of artificial turf based on their knowledge of older turf products. This allows you to discuss advances in technology and alleviate potential concerns before misconceptions derail your fundraising efforts before they get started.
This is only an example, and the issues and questions will be different for every organization. But what stays the same is how a simple survey can provide critical insights that can dramatically improve the direction of your fundraising communications and, consequently, your ability to communicate with donors in the most effective way.