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How to take the pulse of your non-profit organization using surveys

Posted by Ethan Hawkes on Jan 26, 2017 9:00:00 AM
Ethan Hawkes
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"Why is attendance down this week? Did I say something wrong at our last meeting?" As a leader of a religious organization or non-profit, it can be hard to know exactly how the troops are feeling.

You've been conducting your past practices to grow your congregation, but now numbers have stagnated. Or even worse: they've begun to shrink. Maybe you've radically changed your mission based on what you thought your organization would want next and it isn't producing any growth.

Unlike customers at a traditional business, participants of non-profit organizations come together because they want, depending on your organization, either a sense of community, spiritual nurturing or feeling like they are doing good in the world. As a leader, it's your responsibility to regularly check the temperature of your group to make sure you're leading them in a direction they want to go. Otherwise, it might be a lonely destination when you get there.

A great way to take the temperature of your congregation is to send out a survey to your entire group through an email or mobile app. A survey is the only way to get a true read on how your group is feeling.

You might say, "But I know my congregation! I talk to them in person every week and they are always so nice." They probably are, but have you ever had to tell something you don't like about them to someone's face? No thank you, it's easier to just leave and find a similar organization than to create an awkward social situation.

Here's where the power of anonymous surveys comes in.

Anonymous surveys are beneficial for not just the survey taker but are also crucial to keeping yourself from picking favorites among your organization. Trust us, you don't want to know who said those nasty things about how you present yourself. 

Enough about the benefits, how do you go about running a survey for your religious organization or non-profit?

Creating a survey

The key to a great pulse survey is discovering both your group's demographics and thoughts. Is your church full of people who only visit on holidays or people who attend every single Sunday? Do your donors to your medical missions believe spending resources on clean water is more important for the citizens of Guatemala or access to de-worming medicine?  (Hopefully, they find both equally important)

Although not every question will work for every organization here are some samples:

How often do you attend our meetings?

How long have you been a member?

How old are you?

What has been the highlight of your year with us?

What is an ongoing frustration or an area you'd like to see us grow?

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate us?

How happy are you to be a part of this organization?

These questions need to be tailored to your specific non-profit. Ask yourself, what's the most important contributing factors of our mission and what do I need to know to make that grow?

Promoting a survey

These surveys should be conducted two to four times a year. Try to run surveys at the most crowded meeting times of the years. This way you'll get the widest ranges of both regulars and sometimes visitors to get the largest sample size.

Your group may not meet very regularly in person for meetings, so the next best way is to send the survey out via email. We keep stating how email gets generally lower response rate than using a mobile app, but you can boost your response rate by offering a reward.

It doesn't have to be an expensive reward. An $1 gift card to Amazon has proven successful for us. The idea of showing you care about your group's feedback will encourage them to actually participate. 

Analyzing the results

Now that you have a sizeable amount of responses, it's time to pour over that data. You now should know the current demographic you attract and can better cater to their needs.

The key is to continually monitor your stats and tracks trends. Just because your church specialty may be keeping an older fashioned vibe doesn't mean your congregation wouldn't like to spruce up the place with new technology.

There a quite a few ways to survey your customers, but SurveyMe's pro level account is actually free for non-profits! Find out the story behind why here.

If you're a non-profit and are interested in receiving a free account contact us!

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Topics: Survey Strategies

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