Survey Tools for Nonprofits

by Elaina

Any good nonprofit is regularly checking in with their constituents – asking donors about the last fundraising events, checking in with clients about a new service – and survey tools are life savers for collecting this information. Many nonprofits also use survey tools as regular web forms, collecting things like volunteer profile information. With all of the survey tools on the market today, which is the best for your nonprofit?

Most of the mainstream survey tools have very similar functionality and ease of use, and so the decision point for most nonprofits will come down to cost. To further determine which is best for you, we need to know a few things about how you will use this tool:

  • Is this a one-time or once-in-a-great-while survey, or will you be sending out surveys each month?
  • How many people will you be expecting to fill out these surveys?
  • Do you need to embed the survey in your website?
  • Do you need to use advanced tools, such as routing responders based on their previous answers?
  • Is this a true survey that you are sending out, or is it more like a volunteer profile form that you are embedding on your website?

Not knowing the answers for your nonprofit to the questions above, I have written up a few recommendations based on some broad use categories. While there are a wide variety of survey tools on the market, for this post, I choose to look at a few that are very popular with nonprofits, Vertical Response, Survey Monkey, and Zoomerang.

Surveys sent to a small group – Zoomerang

For this kind of use, I recommend looking into Zoomerang as it has a very user-friendly interface and they provide a free plan for up to 100 survey responses each month. This free plan is pretty basic – only 12 questions per survey and you won’t be able to use advanced features or customize the look of the survey for your branding. What’s nice is that you will still have options on how to send out your surveys on their free plans as it allows you to embed the survey in your website or send out links using their email tool or social media. Zoomerang has bigger plans for those requiring more responses and additional features starting at $149/year for nonprofits.

A close contender in this category was Survey Monkey, but I didn’t go with them as the features for the free plan were a bit more limited – 10 questions per survey and more limitations in regards to sharing your survey results. Their more advanced plans are also higher cost, starting at $204/year.

Basic surveys sent to a larger group – Vertical Response

Vertical Response provides basic surveys at a very good price to nonprofits. Their plans start at $11.48/month for nonprofits, and there are additional discounts if you are willing to pay for 6 months or a year up front. These rates are signifcantly lower than Zoomerang and Survey Gizmo, but you are also getting fewer features. They don’t offer embedding the survey in your website or more advanced features such as question and page logic. However, if you are just looking to get a list of questions answered, this tool will meet your needs well.

For those using Vertical Response as their email tool, their survey tool will offer the advantages of being able to pull your recipients from your established lists and providing you with a familiar working environment. Unfortunately however, surveys aren’t integrated in to the Vertical Response app for Salesforce (at least at this time), so you will need to log into their application outside of Salesforce in order to access those tools.

Advanced surveys – Zoomerang

For the purposes of this post, I defined “advanced” as surveys that will allow you to use features like logic (send respondents to different questions/pages based on previously answered questions) and question randomization. Zoomerang offers both of these within their mid-level plan. Survey Monkey only offers randomization in their higher cost plans, and their mid-level plan was a bit more expensive than the comparable one at Zoomerang.

Permanent form on your website – Web-to-lead forms, website forms, or Google Docs

As I mentioned above, many nonprofits use survey tools as permanent forms such as volunteer application forms. I am a fan of not using survey tools for this end, as you will likely get better results elsewhere. These tools are either free (Google Docs) or they will be included in the costs you already have with your website or database.

If you are using a database that includes web-to-lead forms (such as Salesforce), it makes sense to use that function for a permanent web form, as the results will be automatically uploaded into your database. This will save you the work of copying and reduce the risk of corrupted data.

If your database does not have that feature, look to see if your website tool does. Many we website tools either have form builders included or have applications available for that end. This will get you a form embedded in your website, and the information from the form is typically either emailed to you or saved in a spreadsheet for your review.

Lastly, you can look into tools like Google Docs to embed a form on your website. Their form tool allows you to create a form to embed in your site with the collected information being saved into an online spreadsheet. You can share this spreadsheet with others on your team easily.

Price and Feature Comparison Chart

Vertical Response SurveyMonkey Zoomerang
Any free plans? First 25 responses free 100 responses each month 100 responses each month
Monthly rate for mid-level plan $11.48/month or $113.40/annually – 1000 responses $204 annually – unlimited responses $149 annually – unlimited responses
Embed survey in your website Included in all plans Included in all plans
Advanced Options With more advanced plans With more advanced plans

I hope that this information helps your nonprofit choose a survey tool that will meet your needs and your budget. Feel free to leave comments with any questions that you have or you may contact me if you would like further help choosing a survey tool for your nonprofit’s unique needs.