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Who are your donors and why do they give? More importantly, why do they give to you?

A donor survey is a great way to find out.

Many non-profits have the same fears. They think a survey might annoy their supporters or that no one will reply.

Well that’s just not true – if you do it well. A good survey says you care about what your supporters think. And donors really want you to care about them for more than their donation.

A survey will give you first-hand insight into what donors honestly care about.

It’s a two-way street.

Donors join your cause because they share your values. They want to do something purposeful and feel part of a community of like-minded people. They also want to be appreciated for their efforts.

When you ask donors for their opinion, they move from spectator to participant. They feel good about you and your cause because you’ve asked them to pitch in. By getting them involved, you’ve shown them that they matter. And that increases their propensity to give again.

So what should you ask donors in a survey?

Aside from the usual – the basics about age, gender and occupation, how they prefer to donate, what other charities they support and whether they are considering leaving a bequest in their Will – there are three main questions you absolutely must not leave out.


Donor Survey Question 1:
Why do you give to us?

  • You helped me, or someone I love
  • I feel a connection to your cause
  • Helping my community is important to me
  • I feel a responsibility to give back
  • The timing was urgent

This question will do three things.

First, it will give you insights into the motivation behind a gift.

Understanding the reasons someone donates to your organisation is key to capturing a donor’s attention when you need them to give.

Second, it will help to inform future content marketing and fundraising strategy.

It takes the guess work out, and that means you can adjust your website, donation landing page, appeals, newsletters and emails to engage deeper and communicate better with your donors.

Third, it will help you find new donors.

Capturing information will help you develop a donor blueprint. Understanding demographics, motivations, likes and dislikes and even how donors prefer to give will be useful when developing your next round of acquisition materials, and help you reach more people like the ones you currently have.


Donor Survey Question 2:
How much of an impact do you feel your gift has?

The decision to donate is emotional, and donors want to be sure that their generosity is making an impact.

When someone donates, they need reassurance that their decision was a good one. They want to know that the non-profit can be trusted to use their gift as intended. So when you ask this question, it’s a good idea to follow up with these:

  • Do we thank you enough?
  • How can we make you feel appreciated?
  • How do we show that your gift is meaningful to us?

You can’t offer meaningful donor experiences if you don’t know what people want.

So ask.

If your donor doesn’t end up getting what they expected, for example a sense that they made a real difference because you updated them on project outcomes, they end up feeling short-changed.

And that might be enough for a donor to switch off.


Donor Survey Question 3: Is there anything else you’d like us to know? 

Alternatively, you could frame this as: Do you have any questions or concerns about our organisation?

It’s a great question to finish a survey with because you may discover an answer to a question you never thought to ask. It’s best to get ahead of any issues before they become something much greater, so this puts the negative on your radar and allows you to resolve it in a timely manner.

Your donors are important.

So let them in. Give them a voice. Listen to their feedback.

A happy donor is a loyal donor, and there’s no better way to make a supporter feel like their opinion really matters than a well-planned survey.

If you need help to craft the right questions, and to map out a targeted survey strategy, Redstone can help.