Nonprofits: Get usable results when surveying constituents
To make sound decisions, your not-for-profit’s leadership should periodically survey donors and other constituents. But how do you design a survey to ensure a high response rate and constructive feedback?
The first step is to define the survey’s purpose. Determine what you want to learn and how you’ll use the data you collect.
If, for example, you’re planning to build a recreation center, ask what activities survey recipients would like to see offered at the new facility. They might give you a wish list of activities, with “swimming” at the top.
But if you already knew swimming was popular and had anticipated this response, your survey results don’t really help your leadership make decisions. Instead, ask more specific questions, such as “What hours and days of the week would you most likely use the pool?” and “How much would you be willing to pay per visit?”
Stay focused and offer incentives
You’ll want to be sharply focused, isolating a single issue or initiative. And keep the survey short. Some experts suggest that, ideally, it should take no longer than five minutes to complete.
Also decide if you’re going to offer an incentive to respondents. Some research shows that people are more likely to complete a survey if they’re offered something in return. If you do offer an incentive, choose one that’s appropriate. A big reward, such as a dinner for two at an expensive restaurant, could skew survey results because respondents might give false demographic data to qualify.
Avoid bias and pledge privacy
One of the biggest challenges of survey writing is to draft unbiased questions. Take care not to lead respondents to answers you’d like to hear. Avoid loaded words and strong language, and consider seeking the services of a survey professional to ensure objectivity.
Finally, be sensitive to privacy concerns. Reassure survey recipients that their responses will remain confidential, and honor that promise.
Glad you asked
Getting feedback from constituents on the job you’re doing, or planning to do, is critical to the efficacy of your leaders’ decision making.