If you’ve stayed at a hotel, rented a car or bought groceries sometime in the last year, you’ve probably received a customer satisfaction survey.

For-profit businesses understand that in order to retain customers, they need to continuously collect and act on feedback.

Unfortunately, the nonprofit sector’s equivalent – donor surveys – are not as ubiquitous.

If you’re wanting to get started surveying your donors, here are three examples that you can draw inspiration from:

1. WWF – New Donor Survey

Our friends at SOFII highlighted this new donor survey as part of WWF’s new donor welcome kit. It asks the following multiple choice questions:

  • Why did you choose us?
  • What is your specific conservation interest/concern:
  • How do you participate in conservation?
  • A few personal details:

Getting to know a new donor personally (their values and beliefs, why they care about your cause, etc.) might be the most impactful strategy for combating abysmal first-time donor retention rates (18%-23%).

Not only do you show the donor that you care, but you can craft a communication strategy around their answer (all with the goal of getting a second gift).

2. charity: water – Active Donor Survey

This survey from charity: water differs from the WWF survey in that, instead of focusing on getting to know the donor, it focuses on the communication experience of the donor.

Similar to a net promoter or customer satisfaction survey that you would see from a for-profit, charity: water’s survey asks three simple questions:

  1. How would you rate your experience receiving an e-mail update on your donation from charity: water?
  2. Favorite or least favorite part?
  3. How likely are you to donate to charity: water again?

Because charity: water communicates so frequently with donors (through water well project updates and other stewardship content) it makes sense that they would solicit feedback from donors as to how they are enjoying that content.

Knowing who is least likely and most likely to donate again is very helpful in either adjusting or validating ongoing communications.

3. Ontario Nature – Lapsed Donor Survey

A dedicated lapsed donor survey is a great way to re-engage donors who have stopped giving

Our friend Pamela Grow brought this lapsed donor survey from Ontario Nature to our attention.

This survey is page 4 of a 4-page re-engagement letter created by the geniuses at Agents of Good.

After a 2-page appeal to come back to the org, and a 1-page reply device, the recipient is presented with a 2-question survey:

  1. I will renew my support of Ontario Nature if/when:
  2. What matters to you? This is your space to tell us what you think and feel about Ontario Nature and you. We promise to listen to you and follow up with you if you wish.

The emotion of the letter combined with the request for honest feedback allows for three possible outcomes (other than a non-response), and all three are positive:

  • the letter is enough, and the donor gives
  • the donor doesn’t give, but they complete the survey and you learn about them; which allows you to adjust your efforts
  • they donate and complete the survey

First-time donors, active donors and lapsed donor surveys represent three of the best segments, but you don’t have to stop there. Consider surveys following:

  • attending an event
  • going on a tour
  • volunteering
  • becoming a monthly donor
  • a board member rolling off their term

Whatever you choose, make sure you do segment the survey recipients by interaction recency, frequency and type. It will give you deeper insights and illustrate to the donor that you know what kind of constituent they are.


Does your nonprofit survey donors? If so, share your favorite questions below!