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8 Donor Survey Questions Every Nonprofit Should Ask

Wish you could get into the minds of your donors? Donor surveys can help. With the right survey questions, you can measure donor satisfaction, understand donor motivation, and evaluate and improve your fundraising efforts

Moreover, asking a donor for their input can be a crucial step in the stewardship process and a great way to get them more involved in your nonprofit. When you know what your donors (and potential donors) value, you can improve their giving experience, raise more money, and acquire new supporters.

Sample Donor Survey Questions

To get you started, we’ve compiled a core set of sample survey questions to ask. You can use these key questions across a variety of surveys—online surveys, in-person interviews, and registration questionnaires. In all cases, these questions will help you collect valuable input and show donors that you care about their feedback.

1. Why do you donate to our nonprofit?

Sometimes the most obvious questions are the most important to ask. Asking this “why” question gets at the motivation behind a donation. You might also frame this in the retrospective: Over the years that you have generously supported us, how did those gifts and involvements come about?

2. Of the programs and services your gift(s) support, which are the most important to you?

Additionally, ask the following follow-up questions: Which programs/services do donors care about the most? To prompt responses, you can list your core service or programs beneath the question.

3. To what degree do you feel your donation(s) have made a difference? How so?

Asking donors how they feel about the impact their donation has made and why they feel that way can help your organization understand how well you’re demonstrating impact to donors. Here, you might also ask: How can we better show that your gift is meaningful?

4. How do you prefer to give?

Break this question down by asking about donors’ preferred frequency of giving (one time, annually, monthly), preferred type of giving (in-kind, cash, stocks, auctions, event tickets), and preferred method of giving (check, text-to-give, online, peer-to-peer).

5. What other organizations or causes do you donate to?

Under this question, you might also ask: Which organizations do the best job sharing the significance and impact of your gifts? How so? Of all the donations you’ve given, which have given you the most joy? How so? Look to these other organizations to see what they’re doing well (and not so well) to engage donors.

6. How would you rank your level of satisfaction with giving to our organization?

Use this question as a way to determine your donors’ overall level of giving satisfaction. Consider framing this question on a scale of one to five, with five being very satisfied and one being very unsatisfied.

7. What types of communication would you like to receive? How often?

Ask donors about their preferred channels (email, phone, mail, social media), frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, annually), and content (newsletters, opportunities, reports) they like to receive. You can also break this question down to ask how donors have found past communications helpful, accurate, illuminating, responsible, and meaningful.

8. What have we not yet discussed that would increase your level of satisfaction as a donor to our organization?

Often, donors have particular ideas and topics on their minds that you simply can’t predict. That’s where this catch-all question comes in. You might also get an answer to this question by asking: How can we enhance our efforts? How can we better show our appreciation?

Additional Questions for Your Fundraising Survey

Looking for more questions to dig into your donors’ minds? We’ve got you covered:

  1. What guiding principles do you use to make your philanthropic decisions?
  2. As you consider your giving and volunteering, is there a common thread or value?
  3. What do you expect from the charitable organizations in which you are involved? To what extent are we meeting those expectations? How could we enhance that?
  4. How well would you say you know our board and CEO? If not known, what impact would knowing our leadership have on your relationship with us?

Now that you’ve reviewed the many questions you can ask your donors, it’s time to build your survey. Let’s look at how to assemble these individual questions into an impactful survey.

Next Steps: Designing Your Donor Surveys

Considering the range of your survey goals—not to mention donors—you’ll likely have more than one survey to meet each of your distinct needs and audiences. As you might expect, each survey will leverage different questions tailored to the specific subset of donors, what you want to know about them, and how you’ll use that information. 

For example: Do you want to learn about your small donors, new donors, recurring donors, major donors, or lapsed donors? Do you want to learn about their motivations for giving, communication preferences, or funding interests?

Answering these questions will help you determine which questions to ask and how to deliver them. Generally, there are three main considerations for designing surveys to take into account:

  • Live vs. Asynchronous.  Live surveys allow for more in-depth, off-the-cuff conversations and the ability to immediately follow up on answers. On the other hand, asynchronous surveys can adapt to respondents’ schedules and allow them to think through their answers.
  • In-Person vs. Remote. While in-person surveys can set the stage for a robust and long-lasting donor engagement, remote surveys, such as those sent by mail, conducted over video calls, or filled out online, can reach a broader range of respondents.
  • Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended. You’ll likely want to include a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions. Often, multiple choice, checkbox, and ranking questions are quick to complete and lend themselves better to asynchronous surveys. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, support longer, in-depth responses.

In either case, give yourself ample time to define your questions and review them with relevant stakeholders from your marketing, fundraising, and engagement teams.

In many ways, once you’ve collected your questions and designed your survey, the work has just begun. In addition to continuing to survey your donors regularly, plan to listen and respond in a meaningful way to the feedback (both positive and negative) you receive.

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