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Take That Donor Survey All The Way Home

take it homeIn my home, I’ve adopted a phrase that reminds my family to not just leave their empty cracker wrappers, finished Starbucks cups, and used paper towels laying about the house. That phrase is: Take it all the way home. What I’m hoping is that it’ll be just that little nudge to take trash to the trash can (you know…where it belongs). Admittedly, it’s still a work in progress as I currently stare at an empty plastic fruit cup with a spoon still inside that’s sitting on the coffee table in front of me. But we all live in hope.

Now, let me ask a question that has nothing to do with trash and everything to do with your donor surveys. Do you take your surveys all the way home?

Pamela Grow wrote an excellent blogpost talking about keeping supporter surveys simple:

Yet most organizations turn a simple survey into far more than it needs to be. Asking your supporter to spend ten minutes reflecting on their answers in an online survey is…well, about eight or nine minutes too much. Make surveying quick, make it easy, make it fun!

How many times have you been asked to answer a questionnaire with so many questions, it would make an IRS employee blush? And then, how many times have you turned around and done the same thing to your donor thinking you have just one chance to ask questions so you better make it big and make it count? Only to then get a response rate that makes you wonder why you put in all the effort in the first place.

I’ve been guilty of this, as well. Even when we know better, it can be a challenge to convince others in your organization that you don’t need to fully interrogate your donors to get quality insight into their interests, desires, and thinking.

So the very first order when crafting a successful donor survey is to keep it simple. However, launching the survey and collecting data is just the first step. You need to know what you will do with all this amazing information. In other words, you need to take that survey all the way home.

Open admission: while I understand the utility of a comprehensive survey of the full donor file, I’m far more in favor of building simple surveys that can glean donor-specific information using forms of progressive profiling. If you’re unfamiliar with progressive profiling, take a few minutes to get acquainted with this method of information collection. Through a series of surveys and other forms of data capture, information is gradually added to a donor’s online profile in your CRM or marketing automation platform and can be used to segment and customize future experiences.

The key benefit of taking your survey all the way home is that it shows we are not just listening but also acting. One of the worst experiences a donor can have is to tell us something important and ignore it. Like, tell us they are really interested in being an advocate for bears, but then we proceed to ask for donations to save spiders. Not only will that appeal not resonate with them, they’re going to wonder if they’re nothing more than an anonymous piggy bank.

But the more we ask questions, the better we get at capturing data and developing an individual donor profile, the more personalized the communications, the more we’re seen as co-creating the donor’s experience with what will start to feel like their organization. And that just may be the key to a life-long partnership. Who doesn’t want to increase their donor retention around something like that?

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