Sitting down to listen to week 8 of The Donor Retention Project, surprised me. The focus was on surveys – not usually something that raises eyebrows. In fact, I was thinking that this might be a stretch for donor retention, but I was wrong. Nonprofits could learn a lot from Jonathon Grapsas of Flat Earth Direct (based in Australia) and his focus on surveys as an essential tool.
What surprised me was not the abundance of information you can gain or how it can be used to improve your relationships with donors. It was not the survey length, the important questions you can ask, or even the fact that all of his testing has proven that donation requests in surveys do not affect response rates (and can often cover costs). What surprised me was that I had never considered that donors were providing valuable information by their type of contact with the organization.
Why is this true? It’s actually quite logical but rarely practiced by nonprofits – at least from what I have seen.
Donor Centric Strategy
If someone donates via mail, it follows logic to say that they view snail mail as a trustworthy source. The same is true of email. But then why send email or snail mail surveys to the entire donor database? Because it is easier for the nonprofit – not a very donor centric strategy.
In fact, donors provide their preference with each and every donation. All you have to do is listen.
Yes, it will require organizations to create two different versions of the survey, but they are versions not completely different surveys.
There is definitely a higher cost for a snail mail version, but if the studies from Flat Earth Direct are to be trusted, you can cover the costs (and possibly even profit a tiny bit) by including a gift solicitation in the survey.
A survey is an ideal stewardship opportunity. It is an easy way to learn more about a donor without having to conduct a face-to-face interview. Of course, you won’t have a 100% response rate, but if you listen to those who respond, you will know more about those donors – and that could be key to donor retention.
Read the rest of my series on 90 Days to Larger Gifts and Lifetime Donors by clicking here