Sean Cartooned

The Most Powerful Communication Tool: The Supporter Connection Survey

View all posts

A proven method for increasing revenue, uncovering legacy donors and improving donor-centricity.

With data-led fundraising guru Sean Triner

Do you have lots of lovely donors supporting your work?  Do you have a direct mail program?  Or an online fundraising program?

Well, if you haven’t got a ‘Supporter Connection Survey’ in your communications plan your cause is missing out.

Potentially, missing out on millions.

This kind of survey is absolutely fundamental to knowing your donors.  And knowing them is fundamental to ANY planned giving, bequest, mid or major donor campaign.

I’ve seen time and time again the power of the Supporter Connection Survey. It is the single biggest way you can uncover legacy leads, increase mid and major donor income, advance your appeal performance, and improve your donor care and stewardship. Quite simply, Supporter Connection Surveys are amazing.

As our Fundraisingologist Jeff Brooks says:

“I don’t lightly use the word “magic” to describe even the strongest tactics. But this type of survey’s simple power is, well, magical. It can power your organisation’s fundraising growth for years to come and transform the way you communicate with your donors.”

Introducing the Supporter Connection Survey

My name is Sean Triner, and I co-founded Moceanic with a big idea to connect smart fundraisers like you with the best fundraising experts in the world.  It is no accident that for charities I think that the Supporter Connection Survey is the place to start.

Roger Craver describes me as a true data-led fundraiser. That means I take a data-driven approach whenever I help fundraisers. Don’t let that scare you off, though. Most people I work with find my approach refreshing and authentic.

And like the rest of the Moceanic Team, I also understand that great fundraising comes from the heart. Maybe that’s why I value supporter connection surveys so much – truly donor focused fundraising combined with using the important data we collect in the survey. I’m pretty sure you’ll love these surveys as much as I do…

First off, I should explain what I mean by a ‘Supporter Connection Survey’.

I’m not talking about the appeal disguised as a survey: You may have seen these before.  These ‘fake’ surveys ask the donor a series of leading questions to get the donor repeating ‘yes’ until they are asked ‘Will you please donate $50 to help right now?’  I’ve seen these surveys work really well for charities.

But the Supporter Connection Survey is NOT a fake survey designed to elicit a donation.

Nor am I talking about Quantitative research: Those surveys ask questions that will be analysed. For example, ‘75% of our supporters think…’

They don’t contain leading questions, are not ‘warm’ in how they communicate.  They don’t cheat by having questions strategically placed to give a little nudge on the next answer.  And the objective of those surveys is to find out about donors as a ‘group’.

But the Supporter Connection Survey is NOT quantitative research.

I’m talking about the REAL Supporter Connection Survey – this survey is all about the donor.

It is about that individual who received the survey and completed it.

  • This survey helps the charity and its staff to be extremely donor-centric.  In fact, I can’t imagine how it is possible to be truly donor-centric if you don’t know what each donor wants!
  • This survey helps the fundraisers and senior managers to truly know their donors.
  • This survey allows for superbly tailored communications that increase loyalty and response.
  • This survey identifies potential major donors.  A completed survey can even be used as a prop and case for support on your next visit or conversation with your key supporter!
  • This survey identifies potential bequestors (legators).

Charities in Australia have had huge success with these surveys, and most see it as an essential and significant part of any planned giving or bequest (legacy) program.

Nearly all donors in Australia, who have told charities they put the charity in their Will, did so because of this type of survey. Well over half of all legacy leads are identified by these surveys. That’s a huge volume of potential income that an organisation may otherwise be missing out on.

How to get your own Supporter Connection Survey

Moceanic doesn’t do things for you.  We teach you how to do them, and how to do them right.

There is a right way to do this type of survey – and many, many wrong ways…

But that’s what we’re here to help guide you through!

We’ve done the research.  We’ve looked at test results. We’ve analysed the results.  We’ve applied the learnings. We know the best approach to take, and we will share it all with you.  We’ll hold nothing back.

But we won’t just tell you how to do it, and we won’t do it for you. We’ll do it with you.

Our courses are designed to help charity people who want to build their internal knowledge and capacity, grow their staff, and achieve more. We’ll help you rise to a new level of expertise so you can eliminate the guess work and get straight to producing the best survey and strategy for your organisation.

Throughout the course, we will provide you with great examples, worksheets, checklists and cheat sheets galore – so whether you’re developing it yourself or briefing externally, you will have all the tools you need to get your Supporter Connection Survey out the door.

How Your Supporter Connection Survey Will Happen

I have been ‘doing’ Supporter Connection Surveys for decades.  As a direct marketing fundraiser in the UK in the ‘90s they were always part of my program.

When I was the boss, they made all my teams’ jobs easier – whether they were in direct mail, events, planned giving, major donors or monthly giving.

From 2003 Pareto Fundraising, a company I co-founded, has been working with charities to produce hundreds and hundreds of surveys.  So much so that they are seen as essential for any Australian or New Zealand fundraiser serious about bequests, major donors or boosting direct mail and digital results.

I worked hard to get these surveys right.  And I am still working hard to make them better and better.

In six to ten weeks from now (I mean the course launch date), your cause could have an absolute wealth of information on key donors that will boost income.  This is how it will work.

What Topics Does the Course Cover?
This course covers four main topics – each of these is a “module”.

Module 1. Planning for Your Supporter Connection Survey

The right planning and preparation is the crucial first step.

In this module, I’ll take you through everything you’ll need to consider and plan for before you start on the development of your survey.

  • You’ll uncover what the purpose of the survey is and how it fits with your fundraising goals
  • You’ll understand the best approach for targeting and timing so you can select who you’ll mail, and when
  • I’ll take you through the pros and con’s for asking for a donation with the survey – and you can decide which approach you prefer
  • You’ll be able to work out how much budget you’ll require and how much resource you’ll need to complete the project.
Module 2. The Questions

The most important part of the survey – what are we going to ask?!

This module will provide you with the do’s and don’ts of survey questions so you can get started on writing your own.

  • You’ll find out what the four types of questions are – and the best way to write them.
  • You’ll find out what four questions NOT to ask!
  • You’ll discover the four questions to ask YOURSELF. Every time you write a question, you need to answer these special questions first!
  • You’ll master the fundraising questions – the heart of the survey! These include the bequest/legacy question, understanding the individual donor’s commitment, and much more.
  • You’ll also discover what the key elements of a good cover letter/email are.

Following this module, you’ll have all the tools and information to put together your survey questions and even write your cover letter. You’ll have checklists, worksheets, and more videos to help you.

Module 3. Getting the survey out of the door

Now your questions are written, it’s time to get your survey into production and out the door! In this module I’ll give you all the tools you’ll need.

  • You’ll find out how to use design to make your survey look good! Whether out-sourced or in-house, I’ll give you the tools to brief the designer.
  • You’ll discover the basic rules of testing, what to bother with, and how to avoid time-wasting.
  • You’ll learn how to schedule and keep everything moving, as well as be provided with useful checklists for production so nothing slips through the cracks.
Module 4. Making it all count. Handling responses and communicating with your supporters

Now your survey is well into production, it’s time to plan what to do with the responses.

In this last module, I’ll take you through the donor journeys you need to consider and which ones to prioritise.

  • You’ll uncover the different ways to feedback to your donors – how, when and to whom.
  • You’ll get great advice on how to manage complaints and questions from donors.
  • You’ll find out how to use survey responses to plan your donor-centric super-charged communications.
  • You’ll know what to plan for next year to ensure you have the budget to do the survey again!

The skills and strategies you’ll learn throughout this course have helped charities raise millions of dollars to fund great causes. They’ll work for you too!

7 More Things You’ll Learn in this Course 

  • Why Francis Bacon was right in 1597 when he wrote “Ipsa scientia potestas est”
  • How these surveys can be used as a prop when visiting major donors
  • What never, ever, to ask in a survey
  • How to position questions to maximise response
  • When to ask for donations in surveys like this
  • What the Latin “Ipsa scientia potestas est” means in English!
  • Just HOW much potential GOOD your donors are willing to do!

Course Details: Here Is What You Will Get

(and there’s a lot more we’re working on, too)

Here is what your course will include:

  • Full access to The Supporter Connection Survey Course (4 modules)
  • Access to a replay of the introductory webinar
  • Four modules, including Q&A
  • A bonus video all about these surveys
  • Roger Craver on Donor commitment – a great video!
  • Jeff and Sean discussing asking for money in surveys to help you decide
  • Slide presentation downloads
  • Access to all these things for 12 months through Moceanic’s easy-to-use online course website
  • Bonuses – the Moceanic team and I promise there will be even more, including video interviews with special guests and video answers to FAQs from other students

How will you watch it? Immediately after purchasing, you’ll be sent a private link where you can jump in and start the course immediately. You’ll get an introductory video to start with, and then each week you’ll get access to the live session (recorded for you to view anytime after the live session you want if you can’t attend the live sessions). You could literally be watching the first introductory session 5 minutes from now (I mean 5 mins after the course is actually launched!)

How Much Do You Need to Invest?

The entire Supporter Connection Survey course is broken into four modules to ensure that you fully absorb it all and become one of the fundraisers who get used to succeeding.

You can get access to the full course, all the bonuses, plus all of our other courses when you join The Fundraisingology Lab.


There’s nothing to lose with our 30-day money back. NO questions asked*.

If this course doesn’t help you, just ask for your money back (*actually, we will ask a few questions to work out what we can do better! Moceanic aims to help smart fundraisers get even smarter, so we want to know how we can improve our courses all the time!)

Is this course really worth it?

Here’s what others have to say about Sean’s webinars and online courses:

“Sean was well versed, interesting, and exciting!” Julia, Preservation Pennsylvania 

 “Great, usable content.  Goes right to the heart of the issue” Ted, AmeriCares

 “Insightful information presented in a simple and easily adaptable format to immediately have an impact on our organization. Time well spent!” Mary, New Reach

 “Sean gives you the ABC’s of effective fundraising. Excellent and informative.” Vivienne, American Foundation for the Blind

 “Sean has a clarity of thought and depth of knowledge that is invaluable… but his real skill is that he keeps it simple and cuts through all the fluff and fakery!” Sarah, Cancer Society, New Zealand

We’ll also provide you with examples of great survey’s, cover letter examples, simple targeting budgeting and planning tools, and a whole range of briefing forms and checklists to help you get your survey out the door!

Questions you might have… 

Is this course for beginners or experienced fundraisers?

It’s great for fundraisers of any level provided they have a desire to know their donors better and produce a Supporter Connection Survey soon. You’ll learn something new no matter where you are in your career.

I’ve read lots of your blogs and articles, Sean. They’re great and I’ve learned a lot and even put a lot into practice. Why should I do the course?

Thanks for reading my material! You might see some familiar material in this course if you’ve read my stuff.  But this course is carefully structured to take you on a journey that takes you beyond just additional information.  At the end of the course you will have produced a Supporter Connection Survey!  Not only that, but the course is interactive, so you can zoom in on how these things apply specifically to your challenges.

I already work with a vendor, supplier or agency. How will this course help me?

That works brilliantly and the course has got all your bases covered. We thoroughly recommend in most of our courses that third party experts are engaged to implement much of the work.

Our goal is to make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the who, what, when where and why for any project.

One of the biggest barriers for all fundraisers is time. Using great suppliers increases your time. Often doing things in house hides costs and may actually be less effective. So this course is for you if you’re doing it in house yourself, briefing a supplier or working with a full-service vendor or agency.

We even have specific bonus resources that you can use to brief your external team!

How much time will this take?

Great question! The course itself is being designed to go through in under 2 hours per week.

You’ll also need to set some time aside each week to do some project work after each module to ensure your survey development stays on track.

Four weeks should be about right to go through everything, but you’ll need at least six weeks, more likely eight weeks between starting and getting your survey out.  Within four weeks from that you will have most of your responses and can get on with using the information to make the world a better place!

How often SHOULD I work on it?

See above. We recommend each week you try to join the live video webinar. If you can’t make it then schedule some time in your diary to watch the recording the next day!   

Get access to the FULL course when you join The Fundraisingology Lab.

Previous Post
How To Ask Every Donor The Right Amount
Next Post
How to Raise Funds on Obscure Holidays and Awareness Days

Related Posts

2 Comments. Leave new

  • re: is it too long? No, I didn’t find it too long – packed with relevant information and I didn’t feel the urge to skip because the content was not boring or irrelevant to me. But then again maybe I am in the demographic that responds to long content!!!!! There is a diversity of response from any audience we approach which is why, as fundraisers, we don’t rely on one channel only.
    Looking forward to the videos etc to inspire my CEO.

    • Sean Triner
      July 28, 2017 2:38 pm

      Thanks – you are EXACTLY the demographic we are interested in talking to. Smart fundraisers who want to learn more. Thank you!

      The number one challenge from our previous survey was bosses/CEOs/Boards not investing enough in fundraising, including training. Hang on in there…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.