3 Dos and Don’ts of Surveying

“You never know until you ask,” right? This old saying has never been more relevant than it is today. Just think about it: How many surveys do you receive from your favorite brands?

Your nonprofit should be no different.

Nearly 30 years ago, Stelter’s first survey hit donors’ mailboxes. A lot has changed with our survey since then. But a few things have remained true: donors are willing, able and eager to share their feedback with your organization.

Today I am here to share a few dos and don’ts of surveying.


1. Survey the right people

Spend your time reaching out to donors who are truly passionate about your organization and its mission.

2. Regular check-ins

The only thing we can all be sure of is change. So, select a survey cadence that makes sense for the size of your nonprofit and its qualified lead donor base.

3. Follow-up in a timely manner

None of us appreciate it when we take time out of our busy lives to give our valuable feedback and receive nothing in return.


1. Ask for money

You are surveying to ask for their opinion, not a donation.

2. Forget to benchmark—both internally and externally

Ask, improve, repeat. What is the point of a survey if you’re not using it to improve year-over-year? You are wasting your time and your donors’ time if you don’t use their feedback to better your marketing communications, stewardship, and any other aspect of your program that your donors’ opinions shed some—much needed—light on.

3. Send out a survey without a follow-up strategy

We can’t stress this enough. Surveys yield results. You and your team must be prepared to connect with your donors who ask to be connected with. And, trust us, they will be asking.

Check out my recent webinar, Survey Says… Know Your Donors—It Pays to Ask, to learn more dos and don’ts. I go over how to use a survey to:

  • Involve your donors
  • Gather useful data
  • Solicit stewardship feedback
  • Identify bequests
  • Grow your pipeline

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