Whether you’re looking for input on a building project or collecting data on how people feel about allowing dogs in local parks, surveys can help you make decisions and boost community involvement.
But according to , the average survey receives only a 10 to 15 percent response rate. Luckily, there are some ways to improve the chances of getting more results—keep the surveys brief, send them out in the morning on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and offer incentives for survey participation.
Respondent incentives are a good way to encourage people to answer. In fact, offering incentives could improve response rates by 8 percent or more. If you are going to offer incentives, Public Services and Procurement Canada recommends double-checking to ensure you’re complying with provincial and federal legal requirements before you start.
Interestingly, research performed by Gallup® found that the number of respondents remains unchanged whether the amount is given before or after the survey has been taken. So, it makes more financial sense to send the amount after the survey has been completed. If you prefer not to give cash, offer participants government promotional products, like a wooden nickel that’s good for a free cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, allowing them (and you) to support a local business.
Studies have shown that small gifts can also be attractive incentives for survey participation. Much like a small monetary amount, reasonably priced government promotional products will often convince people to answer the survey you’ve provided. If you’re offering incentives for people to fill out a survey in person—for example, after a local governmental meeting or at a community event—consider offering a cell phone wallet or a phone-charging keychain. If the survey is online, request contact information so you can send a mailable item, like a seed packet as a thank you.
If offering respondents a prize is outside of your budget, studies have shown you can still improve participation by offering the chance to win a single higher-priced incentive or multiple mid-level priced prizes. Choose something survey-takers can use while enjoying your community parks and outdoor spaces, like a 32-can backpack cooler or Bluetooth® headphones.
More information means better results
Incentives for survey participation are a great way to get more survey results, allowing you to use the data to better serve the people in your community. And that’s a win for everyone.