five tips to better surveys

Surveying your members for insights about your organization is no small deal. If your nonprofit is letting its members go their merry way without being able to give their two cents, you’re missing a critical opportunity.

The good news is that with today’s form tools, building your own online survey and distributing it to your members is not a time-intensive endeavor. But there are still some things you should consider in order to make a survey that generates the best results. Below are a few helpful tips.

1) Reinforce your Organization’s Mission

Take the time to remind form respondents why they’re involved in your nonprofit in the first place, and how by helping give honest feedback your organization can achieve its mission. It’ll put the few minutes you’re asking of them to fill out a survey into perspective — and yield much better results.

2) Find the Balance Between Brevity and Detail

Great feedback surveys don’t take up much of a respondent’s time, because for every extra minute you ask them to spend filling out questions significantly reduces the likelihood of it actually getting filled out. Use radio buttons for general satisfaction levels to save time, while asking the occasional open-ended question to flesh out the details. All told, this should be less than a page, and require less than five minutes of a respondent’s valuable time.

3) Encourage Anonymity

This is always a tough one. We naturally want to know who is saying the things they’re saying, whether it’s positive or negative. But the reality is that people don’t open up the way you’d hope unless they’re nameless. At the end of the day, the feedback we receive is the most important aim from the survey, so anonymity is generally the best way to go.

4) Seek Solutions, Not Problem Recognition

Instead of asking about what things your nonprofit aren’t doing well, ask for suggestions about what your organization could do better. In effect it’s the same question, only you’re left with much more helpful information and the respondent feels empowered that he/she is making a difference.

5) Centralize Response Data

Gathering crucial information is important, so find a way to centralize it in one place. Most form/survey building tools will give you a dashboard for reviewing responses, but it’s even better to find one that integrates with Google Sheets so you can share feedback with other members of your team and have it all in one place.

Do you create awesome membership feedback surveys? Do you incorporate the ideas mentioned above? Let us know!

Chad Reid is Director of Communications for JotForm, a popular online form building tool and has previously worked in nonprofits. He currently lives in Oakland, California with his girlfriend and three cats.

Read Chads other article about Why your Donation Page is Losing you Money.

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1 Comment
  1. […] to them and what their challenges are. You can also try a survey (read this great article – Get better results from surveys). This can give you valuable nuggets of information on what is important to your audience. Once […]

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