Online Survey Case Studies Showcase Value and Best Practices for Nonprofits

I was tickeled to see a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, crowing about the value of online surveys for nonprofits. I, and many other nonprofit communicators, have been using and promoting online surveys as an efficient, affordable and effective audience research tool for over five years now.
I guess that’s validation when the "mainstream media" catches up.

Anyway, reporter Marilyn Dickey cited some useful nonprofit case studies:

  • The Association of Fundraising Professionals has for a few years now used an online survey for their annual research on fundraisers’ salaries and benefits:
    • The old way, a hard copy survey mailed to 4,000 fundraisers, took months for printing, mailing and waiting for replies
    • With the online approach, most responses are received within 48 hours of distribution.
    • Since results can be downloaded into database or spreadsheet software, no keying is required
    • Annual survey costs are now $5,000, instead of $30,000.
  • San Francisco’s Family Caregiver Alliance(FCA) uses online surveys to get feedback from its consituencies.
    • FCA could never have afforded "traditional" audience research
    • Use Zoomerange to create and deliver online surveys on customer satisfaction
    • Good response rate as audience members seem motivated to answer then review results (that’s usually an option, FCA says that their audience is interested in what their peers think too)
    • Challenge in that some audience members
      • Don’t have online access (especially seniors)
      • Have disabilities
    • Critical to choose an online survey tool carefully, and to review how its accessible to those with disabilities.

Thanks Marilyn for these instructive lessons learned. Go to the article for more.

More information on how to choose an online survey tool here.

Nancy Schwartz on May 9, 2006 in Audience Research, Nonprofit Communications, Surveys | 2 comments
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  • I didn’t know what to make of that article either – I’ve been using online surveys for so many years now, it’s hard to remember ever doing one any differently.
    Recently, we pushed our luck with a VERY detailed survey to help us better understand our Team In Training web experience – we had what seemed like an endless amount of questions – the survey took more than 40 minutes to complete. Surprisingly, we had a huge conversion rate and got terrific results – due in part I think to the committment to the program felt by our users – and because when we invited them to participate – we told them the truth about how long it would take them.

  • Marc,
    Wow, that’s incredible that you had such a great response to a 40-minute survey.
    You definitely approached it correctly by specifying how much time it would take. I had a terrible experience once where a nonprofit to which I give asked me to respond to a survey which would take 10 minutes. Twenty minutes later, when I realized I wasn’t near done, I gave up.
    A long survey definitely works only with a committed, loyal recipient base. Glad to hear LLS supporters fit the bill.
    -Nancy

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