Good Old-Fashioned Survey

Posted in strategic plan / operations plan

Good Old-Fashioned Survey

Each year, a non-profit will create a strategic plan that is responsive to the needs of clients, members, and stakeholders. But, how do you know what those needs are? You ask, and here’s how.

Throughout its operating year, a non-profit will offer all different kinds of programs and services. Collecting feedback on those activities is a great way to find out if clients felt the programs were useful or useless. That information helps to build future strategic plans and guides the development of other programs and services.

Feedback comes in many forms, and it can be a lot of fun to try out different creative methods to evaluate a program or service.

Event Feedback

For a fundraiser or activity-style event, a wall of colourful sheets of poster board can make an exciting feedback corner. As the master of ceremonies works the room, s/he can remind attendees to stop by the feedback corner to leave comments. The poster boards can have question prompts that are directly pulled from the data the organization wants to collect.

Feedback from Kids

Colourful charts and happy or sad stickers are a great way to collect feedback from kids.

Tech Feedback

QR codes on the back of any printed material can quickly connect anyone with a smart phone to an evaluation form.


Partnerships can be tricky for data collection. People get busy and might want to move on to other things as soon as the partnership is over. Write it into the partnership agreement that feedback, via a short and easily accessed online form, is required.


Finally, don’t forget about the good old-fashioned year-end survey. Year-end surveys get a bad rap. They get unfairly labeled as out of style. The truth is online surveys are everywhere. With all the fun little quizzes on social media to find out which movie star you look like, or what your spirit animal is, people are very accustomed to how an online survey works. A year end survey is a great way to give clients the opportunity to give some honest (an anonymous) feedback. Surveys can be packaged for multiple delivery methods from email to social posts, to kiosks, and even verbal Q/A.


Why does it matter? A non-profit that offers programs and services without linking to the wants and needs of clients, members, and stakeholders, is no more than a private club doing whatever it wants. For a non-profit to be truly relevant, it must maintain a strong connection to the people it serves.

When the operating year is over and its time to write the report on how well the organization met its strategic priorities, surveys and feedback of all kinds will provide a pile of tabulated answers to those well-crafted strategic questions. The year end report will be a breeze.

If you would like to get started collecting feedback from your programs and services, it is as easy as starting with one activity. Design a set of questions that use easy to understand everyday language. Look to strategic measurements for ideas on what to ask. Don’t ask only what someone liked or didn’t like. Ask questions about what they learned, or how they felt, or how they would change the program for a future year.

As the team reads through the responses, ideas for programs and services for the next year will become much clearer.

If you have a feedback system that produces great results, I’d love to know more about it. Please use the handy little form on the right side of the page to let me know.


Hi, I'm Christie Saas, former board member, current Executive Director, and non-profit volunteer. I remember well, those early years when I lacked the training, the confidence, and the work-life balance to focus on becoming the best non-profit leader I could be.

Fast-forward past many bumps in the road, lessons learned, and you’ll find me still in the trenches, but a little wiser, a little calmer, and a whole lot happier. I love my work and I want to help you love yours too.

I created so non-profit leaders never need to feel alone. I’m here to help. If you’re a brand-new non-profit leader, or a little more seasoned, someone who’s looking to make a meaningful contribution and still have time for a full life away from the job, you’re in the right place.

© Christie Saas 2023 All Rights Reserved

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