Non-profit agencies rely on the dedication and support of their volunteers and constituents for their continued success. It's important to keep these supporters devoted to the cause, donating time and money. Individual feedback is a sure-fire way these agencies keep their volunteers interested and ensure that the charity events they sponsor are worthwhile in upholding the values of the association.
To keep a pulse on its constituency, the American Diabetes Association sends surveys to gauge the success of its charity programs and what its members think of certain programs. The knowledge gained is extremely important to the association's viability.
"We want to understand what our constituents are all about," says Marty Moore, director of strategic marketing for the ADA. He says the association needs to know the likes and dislikes of its constituents and where they feel improvements are most needed. "Every time you do some type of activity, there is cost involved and there are human resource costs, there is the time element cost, there's dollars and cents cost. So if we do something and the constituent doesn't act positively toward it, then we need to think about reinventing the supply chain or dropping it altogether."
The ADA earlier this year converted from traditional paper surveys to a Web-based survey tool that allows it to send surveys and receive results in less time at a reduced cost, since e-mail surveys eliminate expenses related to paper and postage. Another bonus of the Web is that donors tend to respond and give more by using the online channel. A recent survey by marketing firm Kintera finds that 27 percent of non-profit organizations have received online donations of between $100 and $999.
"That was the first thing: Cost. The second thing was time. We probably get 80 percent of our responses in the first three days, where in the paper survey world, you're talking about weeks waiting to tabulate data," says Moore. "In the paper world, it's an eight- to 10-week waiting period for a paper survey to come back. [With Web-based surveys], by eight weeks, I'm probably off doing my third survey."
While speed is one factor, customization is another advantage, says Moore. With the online surveys, developed by software firm Inquisite, individual chapters can tailor the survey format, as well as questions asked (Inquisite competes with Walker Information, CustomerSat, Fulcrum Analytics and WebSurveyor). The questions, which are posed to association constituents and volunteers, can be individualized to assess a specific local or national event such as, "did you like the snacks at the event?" or, "do you feel the ADA is delivering on its mission statement?"
"It helps us improve all facets of an event or an activity," says Moore. "We're making strategic decisions based on what our constituents are telling us. They're telling us stuff for a lot cheaper and quicker than if I was trying to do paper surveys or if we were doing over the phone interviews." And the improvements help boost volunteer satisfaction, which builds the strength of the organization. Individual volunteers feel they have a voice in steering the direction of the association.
The ADA has received a lot of robust feedback. While the surveys average about a 23- to 25-percent response rate, one recent survey that polled participants of Tour de Cure, a cycling fund-raiser, received a response rate of more than 50 percent. More than 700 cyclists received the survey on the Monday following the Saturday race and in only five days, the response rate was 41 percent. The feedback will help to make the event even larger and raise more money next year, Moore says.
Moore has conducted 30 surveys since the organization went online in the spring and says he looks forward to furthering the uses of the tool. "You never go wrong understanding your customer better," he says. "There's no easier and faster way to do it than these online surveys that I've ever seen."
Copyright © 2003 Peppers and Rogers Group / Marketing 1to1, Inc.
[PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION]