Surveys are a tool that we use often at MCF to help inform our work and ensure that we are providing high-quality service to members and grantseekers. We survey our members regularly on programs that they attend, and we conducted a large member survey last year as part of our strategic planning process. We also surveyed nonprofits at the end of last year for our report on 2007-2008 capital and endowment campaigns in Minnesota.
MCF is going to be doing a Giving Forum readership survey in conjunction with the Fall issue on community philanthropy. The last survey was done in 2004 and prior to that, one was conducted in 1991.
For the past couple of weeks I have been working on drafting the survey as well as the marketing plan and trying to answer these questions: What makes for a good survey? How do we get the best response with the lowest cost? Do incentives really work? How many questions are too many?
I have begun doing research for our Giving Forum survey and I found some good information on Wild Apricot’s nonprofit technology blog. One post was 8 Tips for an Effective Online Survey. I found the most helpful tip to be “Pay attention to privacy,” which was one issue that I had not thought of. If we’re asking for the respondents name in relation to an incentive, will they be less forthcoming in answering the survey?
Another post that they had was on the Top 10 cool, easy-to-use web poll and survey tools for your blog and website, that has descriptions of ten web survey and poll tools that are user-friendly and are able to be customized.
Tech Soup also has information on using online surveys to get the feedback you need with tools and best practices for conducting web surveys.
Join the conversation: What makes you more likely to fill out a survey? Do incentives work, or would you complete a survey regardless depending on the topic and organization? Have you conducted a survey lately? How did you publicize it, and did you get the number of responses you wanted? What would you have done differently?
- Megan Sullivan, MCF’s communications associate