Listening to Donors

Listening to Donors

We talk to – or talk “at” – our donors a lot, through our websites, our direct mail, our annual reports and other marketing and fundraising information, but how often do we actually LISTEN to our donors. Sure, we’ll listen IF they call or email or contact us on social media, and IF we are good fundraisers and IF we have good, trained donor service professionals who answer the phone. But, how often do we solicit thoughts, ideas and feedback from our donors? For most non-profits, not too often. We’re not having a conversation with our donors. We’re having a one-way stream (or barrage?) of information FROM us TO them. As donors grow more sophisticated about giving and more questioning of non-profits, that’s just not going to cut it anymore. Donors want interaction and input. A great way to get that feedback, those ideas, that interaction and input is through Donor Surveys. I’m not going to tell you why you shouldn’t design a survey yourself. My business partner Joe already did that. But, I am going to suggest if you’re not already doing it that you strongly consider doing a donor survey this year and that you continue to do regular, ongoing surveys. And I’d love to hear other ways that you are listening to donors. Whatever you’re doing over the next few days, stop talking. Listen to your...
Our Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2015

Our Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2015

As we get ready to ring in the new year, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for reading, sharing and commenting on our blog posts. We hope you were able to use a few of our analytical insights to win, lift and keep your donors and supporters. This year, our most popular posts focused on win: the number and age of new donors that your organization should be acquired, lift: using life expectancy to calculate long term value and keep: engaging donors through online surveys. In case you missed any of these posts, here’s the links to our top 5 blogs of 2015: 5.    How Many New Donors Should I Acquire This Year? 4.     The Buzz – From the DMA Nonprofit Conference 3.     The Age of Acquisition 2.     Should you conduct your own survey? If you have to ask, then no. 1.     LTV...
Should you conduct your own survey? If you have to ask, then no.

Should you conduct your own survey? If you have to ask, then no.

Online software such as Survey Monkey and Google Forms have made the power of survey research available to anyone with an internet connection rendering us a society of survey experts. And WebMD has made us all doctors… And Pinterest has made us all pastry chefs… Do you see my point already? Bill Jacobs and I share an alma mater in Northern Arizona University where we both managed survey projects for the Social Research Laboratory while obtaining our graduate degrees in Sociology. Although our time at NAU was over a decade apart, we were first connected to each other by a mutual mentor from the lab. Since then, we have shared in conducting hundreds of surveys for non-profit, as well as commercial, governmental and private clients. From time to time we get to witness the horror of the “in-house” survey. It sort of reminds me of the local news every Fourth of July when you hear about all the amateur fireworks accidents. The perceived simplicity and relative user-friendliness of the survey tools mentioned above have resulted too many times in false confidence and ‘shoot from the hip’ research. Sometimes we’ll be called in to make sense of a bad survey, but the problem is that once the data collection is done, it’s too late. At best you have useless data. At worst, you’ve been making bad decisions off of bad insights. So, how do you know if you should conduct your own survey? I’ve put together a list of top-line questions about the process. If you feel comfortable about your answers below, survey away! Sampling: • How do I create a...
American voters still have the blues, what about donors?

American voters still have the blues, what about donors?

Before running surveys for non-profits, I was a political polling nerd. While perusing the latest results I decided it would be interesting to run an experiment. All the major polling organizations have their own version of tracking the mood of American voters. I wondered what would happen if we asked our nation’s donors the same questions. I chose a mood indicator used by several organizations and conducted an online poll1  of 600 donors from across the United States. Mood indicator: “All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?” To be a donor, the respondent had to have given a gift to a non-profit organization not including a Church or other house of worship in the past 12 months. I am using the latest report from Rasmussen2 to compare the voter results to our donor study. In short, the mood of American donors is similarly divided on political lines. Conservatives feel much less optimistic about the future than liberals. This was expected since we can assume there is an enormous degree of overlap between donors and voters. However, while liberal voters are divided in their mood, liberal donors are a majority optimistic. See below. Without tracking this over time our interpretive power is limited. For example, we do not know whether these are highs or lows for any group and therefore cannot judge these results in the context of current events. There is however one conclusion that can safely be drawn from this data: Liberals who make non-profit donations are...
Donor Surveys – Do it Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Donor Surveys – Do it Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Just because tools like Survey Monkey exist now making administering surveys available to the masses, it doesn’t mean that anyone can conduct primary research and provide meaningful results to your organization. Surveys can engage donors and volunteers, and provide valuable insights in order to develop and implement fundraising and marketing strategies. But without the skilled expertise of an analyst guiding the process and analyzing results you may just end up with survey results that lead you in the wrong direction. According to Joe Churpek, our primary research expert at Analytical Ones, here are three common missteps when those without analytical expertise administer surveys: 1) Survey questions resulting in biases or misinformation. For example, a question like “Do you think our online donation process is quick and convenient?” This is a double-barreled question. Quick and convenient are two different concepts and a donor might think your online donation process is convenient but it may be as slow as molasses. 2) A survey sample not reflective of the population you want to measure. For example, you will want to consider if you are conducting an online donor survey, are the donors that you have email addresses for an accurate reflection of your typical donor say in age and income? 3) Incorrect analysis of the survey results. For example, applying the survey responders results to the non-survey responders. Perhaps you are trying to gain donor insights but the majority of the donors that responded to your survey haven’t actually made a gift to your organization in 24 months. You would not want to apply a lapsed donors response to a non-responder active...