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 in Audience Research, Nonprofit Communications, Surveys | 2 comments

I received an email request yesterday from the Communications Initiative (CI), asking me to take 15 minutes (way longer than I recommend, keep it to five minutes if possible, ten at most) to complete their online survey.

CI produces a fabulous website compiling information, links, discussion boards, case studies and more content on development communications worldwide. Its a great resource, and clearly a significant investment in time and money (if only to cover the human resource). So it makes sense for the CI team to ask readers what they need and what could be done better on the CI site.

Although the survey is long (too long, if you ask me, which will deter recipients from answering it), the team has done a great job of asking the right questions. Take a look at this model of effective audience research. You’ll get some great ideas for your next survey.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Surveys | 0 comments

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