Updated July 9, 2021
If you’ve had success getting your sanctuary established, you’re providing appropriate care for your residents, you’ve opened up to the public, and you’re ready to make your organization and its programs more effective, visitor surveys are one of the most important tools that you can leverage for optimizing impact.
Gathering information about your visitors, their demographics, and whether your organization has caused an impact on their views can help you more effectively plan and organize your education, outreach, fundraising, and events efforts in a variety of ways.
Data To Consider Capturing
The key categories of data that can be easily leveraged for your sanctuary’s benefit include visitor demographics, their existent and changed viewpoints regarding farmed animals, and their attitudes toward your sanctuary. These broad categories can be captured anonymously by simple questions on a brief, user-friendly survey.
When Should They Be Filled Out?
By providing short surveys that can be completed within a few minutes immediately after a tour or visit, you will have a much easier time getting visitors to give you accurate data. Unfortunately, sending surveys in follow-up emails after visitors have left will guarantee poor rates of completion! We recommend providing as many simultaneous survey fill-out opportunities as possible. For example, consider providing a stack of surveys that are already attached to clipboards to maximize engagement and efficiency.
A Sample Survey, Surveyed
One sanctuary employs the following questions in their tour survey for the following reasons:
Questions: Respondent Age, Gender, and Current Home City/State
Why?: These questions can quickly paint a helpful picture of who typically comes to your tours and how far they travel to visit. Maybe you’ll find a demographic gap in the data. How can you better reach this community? How can this help you plan more specifically targeted events, outreach, or marketing?
Questions: Date of Visit, Name of Tour Guide
Why?: These questions can help you determine which dates, seasons, events, and tour guides are most effective for your programming.
Question: Which Tour Did You Attend? (Connect | Compassion)
Why?: Because this sanctuary conducts two different levels of tours (one tour is much more explicit about the plight of animals than the other), they want to measure the metrics of whether a particular tour type had an impact on visitor responses.
Question: Is this your first farmed animal sanctuary visit? (Yes | No | I’ve visited here before)
Why?: This establishes whether your visitors are typically new to sanctuary experiences or not. This can help you adjust programming or outreach to either garner more support from serial sanctuary visitors or try to reach more newcomers.
Question: Would you recommend the sanctuary tour to a friend?
Why?: This is an easily quantified metric to leverage for fundraising efforts to demonstrate that you’ve been doing a good job of keeping visitors engaged. If you’re getting back a large set of negative responses to this question, something probably needs to change in order to make your programs more meaningful for your visitors and community.
Question: Did you learn anything new about the plight of farmed animals? (YES | NO)
Why?: This is an easy way to determine how effective your educational programming is for particular demographics of visitors, as well as an easily quantified metric to leverage for fundraising efforts to demonstrate that your sanctuary provides a valuable education component to the public.
Question: Which best describes your diet? (Omnivore | Pescatarian | Vegetarian | Vegan)
Why?: By asking this question, you can demographically determine whether visitors are already committed towards more compassionate lifestyles without a high risk of making a respondent feeling pressured or judged. You can modify your tours, programming, and outreach based on the general trend of visitors’ existing relationship to sanctuary animals.
Question: Based on your experience today, would you consider making the following modifications? (If yes, circle all that apply): (Eliminate Meat | Eliminate Eggs | Eliminate Dairy | Eliminate Animal Textiles | I’ve Already Eliminated All Animal Products From My Lifestyle
Why?: This question addresses the immediate impact of your visitor program. Are people willing to make more compassionate choices based on the information and experiences provided? If not, why? Are most of your visitors already making compassionate choices? Or does your tour need to change the way it presents information? If many people say they’re willing to make changes based on their experience, congratulations! This is great data you can leverage in fundraising efforts!
Question: How did you first hear about us? (Internet Search | Word of Mouth | Social Media | Flyer/Event Marketing | Sanctuary Volunteer or Employee |Outreach Event (list))
Why?: This information is significantly helpful when it comes to deciding how to market your sanctuary and its educational programs. If few people are using the internet or social media, you may want to consider leveraging web platforms better to increase your outreach. If you launched a large flyer campaign and few visitors mentioned them in the survey, it may indicate that it’s time to refocus your efforts towards a more effective marketing strategy.
Question: Which best describes your motivation for visiting? (Circle all that apply) (To See Animals | Curiosity | Brought By a Friend | Brought a Friend With Me | Education | Family Activity | To Support the Sanctuary | Other (list)
Why?: This question can help you determine exactly why people come to your sanctuary. This information can help you restructure and refocus your programs, marketing, and outreach to either capture visitors in under-represented categories or boost more popular reasons for visiting to capture like-minded visitors!
Question: Why did you choose to visit our sanctuary specifically? (Write in:)
Why?: This question helps qualify the above question, putting concrete reasons as to why a visitor has chosen your sanctuary over other sanctuaries (or other activities in the area). Are people coming specifically because it’s the closest one to them? Did they see a program or outreach event that inspired them? Did they just need to meet a well-publicized resident? All of this data is really helpful for your marketing, outreach, events, and fundraising tactics.
Question: Do you have any other thoughts or feedback for the sanctuary or tour guide that might help improve the tour experience? (Write in:)
Why?: This is a good catch-all question to help make your sanctuary and your Tour Guide more impactful. Though not all feedback needs to be addressed or is necessarily warranted, if you find yourself with a trending concern or piece of feedback, it may be something to look into.
Gathering And Interpreting The Data
These questions are effective at capturing organizational needs, but if you have more specific demographic curiosities or experiences you’d like to understand better, ask your visitors those questions! Just make sure that your survey doesn’t become too long; a lengthy survey will likely lower visitors’ rate of engagement and completion compared to a half sheet of paper with multiple choice responses.
Once you have a stack of completed visitor surveys, don’t just let them sit in a box in some shed! It’s important to log the answers of each survey, whether with a pad and pencil or digitally with a spreadsheet. Logging the data so you can organize, present, and analyze it is the most important part of the survey process. You could use metrics like an evolution of visitor demographics throughout different seasons, with different programs and marketing tactics, or with entirely different educational initiatives. You could leverage your survey data to demonstrate that you’re making a difference every day. You know you’re doing a great job. Big donors need you to prove it!