Five Reasons to Send a Donor Survey

Video Transcript:

Hi! Welcome to the latest episode of The High-Five Nonprofit Marketing Ideas video series. I’m Julia McDowell, Marketing Strategist for Five Ones. The High-Five is my video where I break down complex nonprofit and association marketing tasks into just FIVE things you need to know in five-ish minutes, and today I’m talking about surveys—donor surveys to be exact.

Surveys can sometimes get a bad rep: As a marketer, you spend so much time creating them, and then no one fills them out. BUT, I’m here to convince you that you should keep on keepin’ on. Seriously. Stick with me.

Surveys can be the equivalent of marketing gold. But, they have to be executed correctly. It might be tempting to ask every single question that has crossed your mind about donors and their giving habits but please, please don’t.

Instead, compile thoughtful questions based on data and feedback you need and want to know to further your efforts. Give people ample time to fill it out and make it easy for them. Send a reminder a week before the due date, and then again the night before. But, enough about executing them, here’s why you should send them in the first place.

Gather Audience Data

Hopefully, you have a rough idea of who your audience is. But regardless of whether you do or not, a donor survey is a great way to fill in any gaps (or get started) on demographics. We talked about the importance of segmenting your audience in a previous video [go check it out], but being able to categorize your audience is key to recruiting and retaining them. Keep the questions short, and a survey is a perfect opportunity to drill down on a specific demographic data point you feel your organization is lacking.

Understand Interests

Demographics aside, a donor survey is a great way to understand what, specifically, your donors are interested in. Ideally, it’s an initiative or event you’re currently working on, but it could also be a section of the wider industry. It’s a great way to get a pulse on what donors care about and potentially opens up new avenues for your organization to explore (and a brand new audience, too!).

Strengthen Relationships

When people are members of an organization or regularly contribute, both financially and otherwise, they want to feel like they are a part of the organization. They want to know their opinion matters, that they are important, and that they matter. By sending a feedback survey, you’re giving donors and members that exact opportunity—a place to air thoughts, feedback, wins, losses, and anything else that crosses their minds. While it’s up to you to collect, sort, and ultimately decide what to do with that information, offering the opportunity goes a long way.

Shape Future Strategy

In that same vein, sending a survey after an event or large initiative allows members to provide feedback on what worked and what potentially didn’t work so well. A survey gives them the opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts, and you the opportunity to comb through the feedback and see what commonalities there are and what makes sense to implement next time. That way, as you prepare for future events you have a pool of ideas to pull from and some things to avoid.

Educate Recipients

When you create a new program or initiative, how do you get the word out? Typical strategies include things like a PR push, marketing efforts, and an email blast. However, don’t overlook sending a survey that asks for feedback and educates your donors all in one fell swoop. Include questions that start with:

  • Did you know…
  • Were you aware that…
  • What do you think about…

This way, you’re informing them of something while also getting valuable data points on how people consume their media and what they are aware of in terms of your organization.

Ok, now that we’ve covered WHY you need to send a survey, the question “What questions do I include?” remains. But don’t worry. I’ve got that covered on the board behind me. I included questions that I would ask in a donor, event, marketing, and brand survey. Just go to to get your hands on this and all my video art. In the meantime, feel free to send YOUR feedback to, and as always thanks for joining me for today’s High-Five Nonprofit Marketing Ideas!