Surveys play a key role in helping non-profits identify member needs to better their programs, outreach, and development programs. However, a non-profit cannot best serve those needs if they do not ascertain the needs of their members through a survey. This result,ending up with useless information, happens because the surveys were not conducted strategically. Instead, maximize your next survey’s effectiveness by focusing on your objectives during every stage of the process:
1. Purpose. Do determine exactly what you want to learn. Identify a subject focus and consider what information you could take action on. Don’t ask members for information you can’t or won’t use.
2. Design. Do determine the format and questions of your survey. Create clear and specific questions that will provide information relevant to your focus. Ensure that the questions are clear such that responders will understand what information you are asking for. Don’t ask for demographic information unless it’s useful and actionable. People value their privacy and are more likely to provide honest answers when they remain anonymous.
3. Execute. Do think about when and where your members would be most likely to respond to your survey. Set a deadline for responses, and send reminders. Don’t send your survey Monday morning, on social media, or email on the weekends.
4. Share. Do communicate your survey results to your community, with as many insights as available, including data visualizations if possible. Share as much information as applicable, including posting the data. Don’t wait long periods before compiling and distributing results. If you fail to communicate at this stage, people will be less likely to help in the future.
5. Demonstrate. Do integrate survey results into changes to programs to better serve your members. Reassess how these changes have helped align your non-profit’s work with the survey results. Don’t forget to keep participants informed of your progress. Link your actions to survey results so that your membership knows you’re accountable, responsive, and actively engaged in meeting their needs.
Ernst Wintter & Associates LLP specializes in California non-profit audits and tax preparation. Contact us today for help with your non-profit audit or tax prep needs.