5 survey questions every nonprofit should be asking

As a nonprofit organization, your top priority is to further an important cause. But to achieve your goals, you must spend time engaging donors and volunteers. Improve the way that you run your organization and communicate with your supporters by conducting a survey. To get valuable feedback and insights, you’ll have to ask the right questions — and here are the five you should start with.

1. How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend or colleague?

We recommend things that we’re passionate about or that we’ve had an excellent experience with. So asking this question is a great way to gauge what your target audience really thinks about your organization.

If the survey results show that most respondents would happily endorse your group, you’re obviously on the right track. But if most of the respondents make it clear that they wouldn’t recommend you or they’re indifferent, you’ll have to investigate this issue more closely. Send out a short follow-up survey to get respondents to elaborate on any difficulties they’ve experienced.

2. How easy was it to donate to our group?

Do your website visitors or email subscribers know how to make donations to your organization? It may seem like a silly question, but if the process of sending money to your organization is difficult or confusing, you could be discouraging supporters from helping your cause.

A “Donate” button that isn’t as visible on your website as it should be, confusing copy, a malfunctioning donation platform — there could be any number of obstacles that you might not be aware of. Asking about the donation process will help you identify any technical, design or messaging roadblocks that stop people from donating to your cause. And if you discover that everything’s working as it should, but you aren’t hitting your fundraising goals, then this survey question will tell you the problem doesn’t lie in the software.

3. How well did you understand how your donation was to be used?

Everyone who visits your website, attends a fundraising event or reads your newsletter should have an accurate understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and how their donations will impact that goal. Failure to clearly state your mission could create skepticism about the true nature of your organization or simply make it difficult for people to emotionally connect with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Testing copy and your overall messaging is an important part of marketing your organization. Asking this question will tell you if you need to edit or rethink the language you’re using to communicate with your donor base.

4. How likely would you be to donate to our organization again?

Nearly 60 percent of new donors only give to an organization once.  If you hope to get recurring donations, it’s critical that you provide your audience with a satisfying experience and effectively communicate your organization’s ongoing needs. Learning that donors are unlikely to make a second gift or that most are unsure if they would give again may mean that you need to spend more time on your retention efforts. Are you sending impact stories that show how donations are helping? Are you engaging with supporters in a meaningful, personalized way? These are the kinds of issues you’ll have to examine.

Because the answer to this question has such a significant impact on your long-term success, it will be well worth your while to include a follow-up question that specifically asks which factors would make a difference for respondents.

5. How useful was the volunteer training that you received?

You’ll likely need to send separate surveys to your donors and volunteers in order to understand their specific and unique feelings about your organization.

In your volunteer survey, make sure to ask about the training experience. Did your volunteers feel that they had the right tools to do a good job? The feedback that you receive here will not only help you prepare future volunteers for the work they’ll be doing, but it could also help identify members of your own staff who should be commended or processes that should be replicated.

Your nonprofit can build an active base of donors and volunteers by listening to what people have to say about your organization. Get to know your supporters, and find out how you can better serve them — and the community — by sending out a survey.

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