Why Not Just Ask Your Donors for Feedback?
Every few years there seems to be a big push in the nonprofit industry to conduct satisfaction surveys or some other type of market research to get into the deep psyche of donors, members and volunteers. Before you know it, you have a major project on your hands — everyone wants to add questions and the budget discussion is always a tough one. If you are a fundraiser, you might find yourself in the position of asking for a budget that will do the "unthinkable" (insert sarcastic tone here) and not ask for a direct donation or even to raise donations within 12 months — and gather information.
I'm actually a big believer in market research. In fact, I have pretty big opinions about whether we should measure satisfaction versus loyalty versus commitment versus ... and the list goes on. But I admit that sometimes marketing research takes on a life of its own, and even more often, the original need can get lost in the politics of trying to make a "survey' do everything.
Why not just ask for some feedback? I am not abandoning these large-scale, multidepartmental studies ... but I am asking you to have regular dialogue with your constituents throughout the year. In other words, I am not asking you to pull a statistically valid sample and then create a scientifically balanced survey instrument. I am asking you to just ask two simple questions of your donors through some of your standard communication channels. Every organization has its own "wording requirements," but the basic concept is simple:
- How are we doing?
- What can we do better?
And before someone in the market research industry thinks of sending me a testy email — please remember I'm not trying to gather market research here. I'm trying to make sure our donors get a chance to tell us how they feel. This is about making sure our donors know we are interested in their opinions and we want them to know we care enough to ask them.
Send an email that's only purpose is creating this dialogue and asking for donor feedback. If you have room on your direct-mail piece (insert laughter here), add a simple question about feedback. And don't forget your social-network audiences — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — all of which are options to start a very special dialogue about how the most important people in your fundraising life feel about you. And guess what? Study after study has proved that even when people don't respond to requests for their feedback, asking gets a "thumbs up" because it makes people feel better that you care enough to ask.
What's stopping you?
If you are a numbers junky (like me) and just don't want to believe the soft and squishy feedback concept, just look at the numbers. In 2011, consumers told an average of 16 people about bad experiences and nine people about good experiences. In 2012, those numbers rose by 50 percent and 67 percent, respectively (scroll down this infographic for this data). In other words, they're talking — so make sure you're asking and you can learn from it and get "credit" in their eyes for being concerned enough to ask.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.