How to Organize and Interpret Survey Responses to Market Your Nonprofit - dummies

How to Organize and Interpret Survey Responses to Market Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances N. Phillips

After you have survey results, you will need to utilize the responses to help you better market your nonprofit. You can compile the responses by hand or use a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet to tally responses. Of course, if you’ve used an online surveying service, it will compile the answers for you.

If your survey responders identify themselves and you want to keep track of information and opinions they share to inform your fundraising or volunteer-recruitment staff, you want to incorporate their information into the database you’re developing of your supporters.

Check Idealware for recent reviews of Constituent Relationship Management software options. Such programs allow you to record every point of connection — from workshop attendance to dance contestant to donor — you may have with an individual. If you don’t want to go that route, Microsoft Access and Filemaker Pro are commonly used tools that can be adapted to your needs.

You may discover that you serve several distinct groups of people. For example, low-income students may use the library after school and visit your exhibits while they’re there. Middle-income mothers from the immediate neighborhood may bring their toddlers to the library for afternoon story time and take advantage of your programs. And wealthy older adults may volunteer as docents, serve on your board, and attend your organization’s panel discussions.

With this valuable information, you may be able to recognize ways to reach more people who resemble the ones you’re already serving. The more challenging task is to reach and entice new groups of people.

Do people you don’t know gather at your organization’s programs? Sponsor free drawings in which contestants compete for prizes by filling out forms with their names, email addresses, and phone numbers.

An advantage of designing a survey online is that you can make it engaging by using the techniques of branching or piping. In such a survey, someone’s answer to one question alters the next question she’s asked. For example, if you were to say that you preferred ice cream to pie for dessert, you would next be asked if you preferred chocolate, vanilla, or spumoni.

If you discover that your target audience likes your program offerings but finds the times you offer them inconvenient, do you want to experiment with new times and formats? For instance, do people find Sunday afternoons (when the library is closed) to be more convenient? What other barriers inhibit their involvement? Maybe mothers with toddlers want to come to your lectures but need childcare. Perhaps you charge a modest admission fee for lectures but students find that charge to be too high.

One of your most difficult marketing tasks is analyzing the very basis of what you do and how you do it. You may feel that your historical society’s close working relationship with libraries is its greatest asset, but the surveys may point out that those libraries are cold and musty during winter months. You may do better by taking over a neighborhood restaurant and creating a “warmer” atmosphere — even offering hot gingerbread and cider.