Getting At The Truth

imagesIn a campaign debrief meeting recently, that included the results of a survey, the working committee gathered to discuss the strategies that worked well and those that didn’t work so well.

Debriefing is always a good idea as it can assist you to identify opportunities for growth the next time around.

It was interesting to compare the survey results with what was being discussed at the meeting. Some areas that got a fairly good rating on the survey, elicited opportunities for improvement from the group during the meeting. An HR professional at the meeting reminded us that surveys are just one tool toward evaluating a program. And she’s absolutely correct!

In an unrelated situation, I recently read and commented on a post entitled The Cheesecake Factory Gets A Second Chance.

In this post Mark Bialczak, a veteran journalist in Syracuse, NY writes about an experience he had that left a bad taste in his mouth, so to speak. Our comment thread went something like this:

Me: We have a diner in Inglewood. It looks like a place from the 50s. The first time I tried it, it was awesome. The food tasted liked Mom had cooked it. Then they changed ownership or cooks or something and the food no longer tasted as good as before, or even good enough to be consumed by the public. I never went back.

Mark: I am surprised that you haven’t been curious to see if maybe that cook whose food you loved in the diner was off or out sick that second time you visited. You know? You seem to be a person who gives a grace period to folks.

Me: I would have agreed with you, had I not recalled what I actually did!

If I were to respond to a survey that asked me how likely I am to give a restaurant a second chance, I would probably indicate very likely even though my actual behavior, if it were being tracked, may not support that answer.

Does that mean I’m a liar? No, of course not! I’m merely giving the answer I believe to be true of myself.

Evaluating your fundraising program with the use of surveys and candid discussions with donors is a helpful exercise, but it is just one of the tools available to you. Actual revenue and appeal performance data is a better indicator in regards to the success of your fundraising program.

You can’t afford to make global fundraising decisions based solely on survey results or the opinions of a handful of people, even if they are people you greatly respect.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Wyrd Smythe

    As an aside, it is certainly the case that any restaurant can have an “off night.” Definitely want to give them another chance. (That said, it also is the case (frequently) that a new restaurant is wonderful until the new owners move on or something else changes (maybe a new chef), and it’s never quite what it was at first ever again. Many restaurants that go through that end up closing shortly thereafter. If the place remains open, there’s probably a reason, and they’d be worth checking out again.)

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