United Way Community Survey Questions | Non-Profit Market Research

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the United Way of New York State Summer Conference in Glens Falls, NY. The three day conference combined a number of keynote presentations with breakout sessions to assist regional United Way organizations across the state. The conference was an excellent way to share success stories and case study examples for the regions to learn from one another.

Drive Research presented in the 10:00 a.m. time slot on Friday to all conference attendees. The title of our session was "Using Surveys to Drive Digital Marketing Strategies". I was joined by the Drive Research Project Manager, Chris Coville.

What I enjoy most about attending conferences is when I sit in worksessions and can bring home actionable tactics, strategies, and changes to my organization. With that in mind, we framed our presentation around basic tips and tactics to improve any surveying work being conducted by various United Way attendees, or to give them reason to use market research as a way of providing clarity and direction.

As presenters we wanted to create digestible and easy-to-understand tidbits for community surveys.

Drive Research works with a number of non-profit organizations including entities like the United Way. Our team works as a consultant but we use survey data and facts to drive recommendations and strategies.

Here is a recommendation of some of the questions you should ask in your community survey. These are excellent questions for a United Way Community Survey or for any non-profit organization.

Word Association

This is an excellent question to ask to help understand associations and perceptions with your brand. This is also a fun and engaging question. You simply ask: "What word or phrase comes to mind when you think of the United Way?"

Responses range from positive to negative. This can even be a follow-up question you ask as well. "What is your perception of the United Way?" Then list very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative.

The word associations make a nice word count or word cloud when it comes time for analysis. These are excellent ways to show quick glimpses of your brand in a simple 1 or 2 questions.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a long-standing market research benchmark statistic. Even for non-profits. It uses a simple 0 to 10 scale where you ask community members likelihood to recommend your United Way with "10" being very likely.

Then you group the "9" and "10" ratings as promoters. Group the "0" to "6" ratings as detractors. Your "7" and "8" are passives. The calculation is simple: Promoters minus Detractors. Scores can range from -100 to +100.

Likelihood to recommend matters, particularly for non-profits where donations are often driven by personal connections and word-of-mouth. Having and tracking a strong NPS rating year-over-year through a community survey is a great strategy.

Donation Share of Wallet

In the non-profit world, organizations compete over the same monetary donations from community members. If a person only has $500 to donate, where is the $500 going to go? Understanding share of wallet for your United Way is key.

This is tackled through 2 questions. First you ask the participant: "In the past 12 months how much did you donate in total to all non-profit organizations?" Then you ask: "What percentage of this went to the United Way?"

Share of wallet is calculated by understanding this ratio. Are you receiving 10% of community donations? 25%? 50%?

Donation Motivations

In addition to understanding donation share of wallet, the other half of the puzzle is understanding motivating factors to donations. What is the reason the community donates to a particular organization? Having the answers to this assists with messaging and marketing.

This can either be tackled through an open-ended question or through a multiple response question where categories are provided. It is critical to break this analysis down by age groups and donor contributions so you can segment your marketing strategies. This allows you to focus on the groups which offer the highest potential.

Awareness of Public Relations

Lastly, this recommended question helps you understand sources of awareness of your public relations and marketing efforts. Ask: "In the past 30 days (or 3 months) where have you seen or heard information about the United Way?"

List off all of your PR and marketing channels (social media, newspaper, television, etc.) This helps you understand where community members are recognizing your brand and helps you better budget your resources.

What if you found out those who notice you more through social media donate 30% more than the general donor? Think you might shift some budget to social? This could be an extremely valuable statistic for your non-profit.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research company who works with non-profits across the country. Our team is located in Syracuse in Upstate New York. Questions about an upcoming market research study or community survey? Contact us for advice.

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