Note: I’m going to talk about a survey that I saw from Planned Parenthood in this blog post. If you oppose Planned Parenthood, its work, or its politics, you can read this, but I invite you to NOT comment.
Surveys are one of the best tools your non-profit can use to get to know the audience(s) that you want to reach, including donor audiences.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the value of using surveys and how to put together a survey.
Today I want to look at using surveys for a very specific purpose – assessing what your audience knows about your issue area.
Why would you want to evaluate this?
First, many non-profits (perhaps even yours) are working on complex issues that your audience many know about to varying degrees. Second, if your issue area is high-profile and in the news, this can sometimes help or hinder people’s understanding of the actual facts. So, assessing what your audience knows will help your organization strategize communication that has the goal of educating your audience.
One example of this kind of survey came through my inbox this summer was from Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
A Strategic Survey from Planned Parenthood
Reproductive rights has been a high-profile political and public conversation ever since the talks of defunding Planned Parenthood. And given the current state of health care in the US, it’s sure to continue to be a hot-button issue.
In response to this, Planned Parenthood sent out a survey to donors to ask for their opinions on the state of reproductive rights. I’ll say that this is one of the longest surveys I’ve seen in a while totaling well over 20 questions. What I admired about this survey was the thoughtfulness of some of the questions and information that it’s bound to give Planned Parenthood staff.
There are questions about the donor’s demographics and their affiliation with Planned Parenthood. But the questions that caught my eye were the ones that assess what their donors currently know about the “defunding” debate. Below are a few of my favorite questions with a bit about why I think they are effective questions to ask.
How closely are you following attempts to restrict access to birth control and family planning information? Are you following it very closely, somewhat closely, not very closely, or not at all? – I thought this was a great question to ask because they likely already knew that their audience has some interest in politics. There are a lot of political fights these days from immigration to net neutrality to reproductive rights, and this question might help the staff understand how closely donors are following the reproductive rights fight.
Based on what you know, are attempts to restrict access to birth control and family planning information increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? – This question tries to ascertain donors’ understanding of the huge volume of current information on this topic, which could be useful to ensure that donors get the right information.
How closely are you following attempts in Congress to “defund” Planned Parenthood? Are you following very closely, somewhat closely, not very closely, or not at all? – Again, there are many layers and angles to the reproductive rights conversations and the one around “defunding” Planned Parenthood is particularly high profile. If donors’ responses to this vary from the first question above, it might be an indication that this is an area within reproductive rights that they care about.
From what you know, please choose the option below that you believe most accurately describes what defunding Planned Parenthood means. – There were two statements to choose from for this question and again, it assesses how people are interpreting what they are hearing online and in the news about defunding Planned Parenthood. Depending on the responses to this question, Planned Parenthood might change its communication strategy to ensure greater consistency in donors’ understanding.
As a fundraiser and communications professional, I really appreciated the thoughtfulness of these questions and the information that they are likely to yield. The answers to these questions (and the others in the survey) are likely to give the organization a read on their audience’s understanding of a complex and highly publicized issue, which in turn will help them develop a better strategy.
Thanks very much for this helpful article. Survey packages are one of my LEAST favorite package types to write, even though I know they’re an important tool for many issues-based non-profits. I appreciate your analysis of different types of questions!