One sure fire way to raise money is to find out more information about your donors. Really. Knowing more about your donors almost always results in higher engagement with them and larger and more frequent donations.

One of my clients recently decided to learn more about their donors and to test their assumptions around donor’s knowledge of their mission.

Here are the steps we took:

  1. Segmented the donor list into a few categories: new donors, high potential donors, dedicated donors (those that also volunteer), event donors (those that gave only at an event), and lapsed donors.
  2. Pulled a few donors from each segment to be interviewed one-on-one. These were open ended conversations designed to gather information about donors. The interviews were conducted by the person at the organization who had the best relationship with them.
  3. Compiled information from the interviews into key learnings. For example, we found that most donors knew about the organizations programs with students, but did not know about the organization’s work with teachers.
  4. Created an online survey of about 10 questions to send to the rest of the donors. We sent reminders and tried to achieve a 30% response rate.
  5. Compiled results. A few important findings resulted: there was very little recall of the organization’s monthly newsletter, donors had low knowledge of the organization’s work with teachers (but were very interested in it), and donors did not recall being thanked for their gift. We also found that event donors had a better recall of the mission than lapsed donors.
  6. Made changes. First and foremost, the monthly newsletter was revised (better subject lines, more pictures). An adopt-a-teacher program as developed, pairing donors with a teacher. Finally, systems were put into place to make the thank you process faster and more impactful.

Since implementing changes 6 months ago, the organization has increased year-over-year giving by 10%. The Development Department expects that to grow even more through the rest of the year.

Have questions?

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Good ways to survey donors

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