July 2, 2018
You talk to your donors. A lot. They're your organization’s most valuable asset; of course you spend the time to thank them for their contributions, inform them of successes, and encourage them to continue giving. But how often are you listening to them?
Your answer should be, “All. The. Time.”
If you know how to listen, and better yet, how to ask, you can get amazing feedback from donors that gives you an under-the-radar look at what gets donors most excited about your mission, how they define your org’s success, and what initiatives your nonprofit should focus on next.
Here's an example: maybe an organization has a large-scale mission to provide medications to places in need. After gathering donor feedback, they discover their donors were especially enthused to see the effects of a local campaign. Now the org knows that in addition to raising funds for medical supplies to be delivered to far-off places, they should include at least one local initiative each year and then market the heck out of it to donors along with a thorough impact report.
Boom. Strategy = set.
You just need to gather that golden donor input. Here are a few of the best ways:
You Go First
You should be blabbing about your nonprofit’s successes year-round anyway. Shout about how many acres of the rainforest were saved this month or the story of the single mother who can now support her family because of your nonprofit. Talk about it all!
When you talk first, your donors will tell you which stories resonate with them the most. They'll say it with retweets, Facebook shares, newsletter clicks, email responses, likes, follows, mentions, and hopefully, more donations. Are you tracking what sorts of social posts perform well? Which emails have the highest CTR? If you talk to your donors, they’ll talk back, in one way or another.
As easy as it sounds, straight-up asking for feedback from your donors is the best way to get it. And not just the obvious casual asks for feedback during follow-ups. Sending out regular surveys is how to get that extra juicy data.
Use an online survey tool like Survey Monkey to ask multiple choice questions and provide essay prompts allowing donors to add their thoughts. Don't be afraid; ask them anything from “Which of our organization’s goals gets you most excited?” to “Which of the following would make you consider doubling your current donation?”
Don’t forget to ask if they have creative ideas! Like, maybe you traditionally focus on delivering blankets as a form of disaster relief, but a donor suggests pajamas and toothbrushes—that's another great initiative to consider.
Not ready to send out regular surveys? Include a quick question or two in your email newsletters with easy “this or that” type response options. Or put out quick one-question polls on your social media for impromptu feedback. Leave the heavy questions for surveys sent to broader demographics.
Bonus: By sending out surveys, you now have a list of engaged donors who deserve unique follow-up and marketing.
"Please Tell Your Friends"
Hopefully, your donors are talking about you on their own—and hopefully, you're aware of these public, online conversations—but don’t be afraid to ask your donors to talk about you. Ensure share buttons are conveniently visible on your website, blog entries, emails, and e-newsletters.
Update social media with successes, congratulating donors on making things happen. Ask them to spread how effective and powerful social awareness and activism can be. Also, ask long-time donors to write testimonials that you can showcase. Take note of what successes the testimonial lifts up to get a sense of whether you're truly tapping into donor interests.
When you start seeking out donor feedback, you’ll see that your donors not only have plenty to say, but their contributions make it easy to focus your efforts.