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8 Considerations for Crafting Effective Supporter Surveys for Retention and Stewardship

As a charity, understanding your supporters is paramount to building lasting relationships and optimising retention and stewardship strategies.

One of the most powerful tools at your disposal for retention and stewardship is the supporter survey. This invaluable resource enables you to gain insights into supporter motivations, preferences, and perceptions which, in turn, can inform effective retention and stewardship approaches.

The power of supporter surveys

Supporter surveys serve as a direct line of communication between your charity and your donors. They offer an opportunity to be truly supporter centric, engage supporters in a meaningful conversation, demonstrating that their opinions matter and that your charity values their input. Surveys provide a platform for supporters to express their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations, helping you better understand their motivations and expectations.

Happy woman on the street making a survey

Key considerations for crafting effective individual giving surveys

1. Set clear objectives

Before crafting a survey, define clear objectives. What insights are you seeking? Are you interested in understanding why supporters engage with your cause, what communications resonate with them, or how they perceive your charity's impact?

2. Keep it concise

In the age of information overload, brevity is key. Ensure that your survey is concise and focused. Respect your supporters' time and make sure that every question serves a purpose.

3. Balance open-ended and closed questions

A combination of open-ended and closed questions is ideal. Closed questions (multiple choice, ranking, etc.) help quantify responses, while open-ended questions allow supporters to share their thoughts in their own words.

4. Personalisation

Tailor your questions to different segments of supporters. For instance, your approach may differ for first-time donors compared to long-term supporters. This personalisation shows that you understand and appreciate their unique contributions.

Photo editor looking at multi colored sticky notes on glass in meeting room at creative office

5. Include Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a valuable metric that gauges the loyalty of your supporters. It provides insight into their likelihood to recommend your charity to others. This can serve as a reliable indicator of overall supporter satisfaction.

6. Strive for clarity

Use clear and jargon-free language. Ambiguous questions can lead to misinterpretation and inaccurate responses.

7. Test before launch

If you can, pilot your survey with a small group of supporters to identify any ambiguities, confusing questions, or technical issues. This helps ensure the survey's effectiveness before a full rollout.

8. Assign data collection

Make sure you have resource available to receive, input, collate and analyse the responses to the survey. You may want to do this in-house or, if you have a particularly large mailing file, employ a fundraising services company like Woods Valldata who can take the hard yards out of the process.


Leveraging survey insights for retention and stewardship

Once you've collected survey data, the next step is turning insights into action. Supporters will recognize when their responses are actioned by your charity. Think about: personalising your future communications using what you've been told; addressing gaps or misunderstandings that supporters raise in their responses; segmenting supporters using their responses so that you can group according to interest or preference.

But what if my team is small? 

Surveys are not just for larger charities. Even with limited resources, small fundraising teams can make significant strides in retention and stewardship through effective supporter surveys.

A smaller charity might already know their supporters better – understanding their needs and motivations with much more clarity than a larger charity.

With limited budgets, you could consider including a survey in another mailing to reduce cost, or include one or two questions on a response form.

Focus on creating surveys that align with your objectives, engage your supporters, and provide actionable insights. By strategically using the data collected, fundraising teams of any size can build stronger relationships, boost donor loyalty, and enhance the overall impact of your fundraising efforts.

About Loyalty held a session at the CIOF Convention 2023 about just this - you can read more about it here.


Find out more

The Woods Valldata retention and stewardship in individual giving webinar, now available on demand, provides more insight into surveys and using data to improve your stewardship activities.

Woods Valldata are here for you and there for your supporters. We offer an unrivaled range of services which can support your retention and stewardship activities. Our services include large-scale response handling, digital scanning and data capture of supporter responses, including supporter surveys. As part of this, we can make even the most complex, automated thanking of supporters simple using the SmartThank Platform. Contact us today to find out more. We look forward to speaking with you.

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