Being able to see the bigger picture by analyzing the pieces of a puzzle is a skill that not every person has. Survey researchers are given the crucial task…continue reading
“Between 2016 and 2017, the health insurance coverage rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points for the civilian noninstitutionalized population living inside metropolitan areas.” (Source: Census.gov)
“Real median household income in the United States increased by 2.6 percent between 2016 and 2017. The 2017 U.S. median household income was $60,336.” (Source: Department by Numbers)
“Between 2013 and 2017, the Los Angeles, Miami, and Riverside metropolitan areas experienced the largest increases in the rate of health insurance coverage among the 25 most populous metropolitan areas. Their rates of health insurance coverage increased by 9 percentage points or more.” (Source: Census.gov)
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What Is a Community Survey?
A simple definition of a community survey would be the studies that are dedicated to learning more about a group or multiple groups of people living within a sample community. It can be about varying topics or issues, even. For example, the purpose may be dedicated to the measurement of health in a manner that is independent of service-use. It can be done by screening individuals or groups living in a particular community through the use of specific measures. Multiple screening instruments can also be used for this particular example. A few notable exclusions from these research surveys would be those who are living in more large-scale institutions, like hospitals, prisons, or those who are homeless.
The Different Types of Surveys
Even surveys have more than one variation and classification, and it pays to know the differences between them if ever you want to get creative with how you conduct your community survey. The following list details the types according to instrumentation and time-based methods. Look into each one before you even think about handing out samples so that you can better determine which one is more appropriate for your needs.
How to Conduct a Community Survey?
To conduct a community survey, you will need to follow step-by-step instructions. Offline, you have the option of just sharing it so that you remain on the right track and accomplish your goals in a timely and orderly manner. Take a look at the steps below and see for yourself how a community survey is done.
Step 1: Decide on What the Survey is Trying to Accomplish
For the first step, you must decide on what it is that your survey is going to accomplish. Think about the goals and be as specific as you can with them. Doing this as your first step is a great way to lay the foundations for a successful survey. Put yourself in the right direction and you should be able to accomplish the other steps with greater ease.
Step 2: Identify Who Your Target Audience Is
Your audience could be a specific group of people. Or perhaps it could be entire groups of people, like businesses within a certain industry. It is important to know who your audience is composed of so that you can get the most accurate answers out of them and accomplish your goals in the way that you want it to be accomplished. Also, by carefully identifying and choosing your target audience, you make the act of gathering information from them much easier since you can better hone in on their own wants and needs. Where the interests of the people lie, you will find more willing participants for your survey.
Step 3: Choose the Survey Method
Now that you know why you are conducting the community survey and who your target audience is, now comes the part where you decide on what survey method you are to adopt. This can depend on the goal you have set for yourself, but it will also depend on the resources you have on hand and the circumstances in which you find yourself. Be realistic about your choices and go for the one that will lead you towards your desired success.
Step 4: Come up with the Specific Questions for Your Questionnaire
This is a necessary step to go through if your chosen method is going to involve the use of quality questionnaires. When writing questions, keep your target audience in mind. If they are broader in scope or less likely to understand complex terms or language, then do not make your questions too difficult to grasp. Include questions that they are most likely to find relevant or useful to them. When going for the multiple-choice route, be sure that your options are covered without them overlapping. Also, do your best to clarify anything that you include to ensure maximum chances of success for your survey and avoid the use of any double-barreled questions.
Step 5: Distribute the Survey
After you have finished with the preparations, the time has come for you to distribute the survey to your respondents. Depending on what your plans are, you may decide to hand it all at once or distribute it portion by portion. For interviews, you can schedule them ahead of time with the willing participants so that the gathering of data will not prove too troublesome for you. Take note that the distribution does not have to be done entirely or on paper at all. You also have the choice of distributing it via email or social media.
Step 6: Gather the Responses
Once you have successfully distributed the surveys to the respondents, give them ample time to answer before stepping in and gathering their responses. Again, due to the variety of methods that are employable, there are also many ways for researchers to be able to gather responses. Surveys that are conducted in the form of questionnaires on paper, for example, can be gathered as soon as the respondents have finished. However, those that have been sent out via email is a bit more unpredictable, with the respondents sending the answers themselves on their own time.
Step 7: Analyze the Gathered Data
After you have finished gathering the data from your respondents, now comes the part where you analyze them. Hopefully, enough data came back to you to be able to come up with a conclusive result for your survey. Response rates can be maximized through survey management and visual design. To begin, you can look at the top research questions you’ve provided and then cross-tabulate the filtered results. From there, you can proceed to crunch the numbers and then draw your own conclusions. Sharing your findings is the last part of this step and that is something that can also be done in a myriad of ways. For example, you can release an initial report on the findings and then give periodic updates, or you can opt to release everything all at once.
Step 8: Act on the Results
The process does not just end with you achieving the results and presenting them to the public. Now comes the part where you will have to act on said results and strive towards the systematic improvement of the community. With all the information at your disposal, you ought to have more answers now regarding whatever issues were being addressed in the survey. Failure to act on the survey conclusion may lead to disastrous results on more than one level.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Community Surveys
When conducting a community survey, there are a few tips that you can incorporate for the purpose of general improvements. Check out the following do’s and don’ts for a much clearer picture of how you can make your community surveys better.
To determine if the survey is necessary
Just because you can do a community survey, it does not necessarily mean that you should. Time is an invaluable resource and as such, you should only perform community surveys if there is enough need for it. Otherwise, you may just end up undermining any assumptions made by respondents regarding the survey and negative consequences are sure to arise if you cannot follow through with the initial promises.
To determine appropriate goals and plans of action
If you do believe that a community survey is needed, then the first and foremost thing to do would be to determine your goals. Be as specific as you can get and then come up with the appropriate plan of action for each goal. This will put you on the right path to solving whatever issues the community may have and it will also make the overall process go much smoother.
Do look for a reasonable response rate at least
For those who are not aware, a response rate is a calculation of how many completed responses there have been in comparison to the number of distributed surveys. Having a high response rate can provide a true reflection of what your target group’s opinion is. Multiple elements can lead to how ‘high’ or ‘low’ a response rate can be, such as the type of survey, the target audience, and even the distribution of the survey. These elements make the response rate a bit more controllable for the ones who are behind the survey.
Do survey the appropriate audience
There’s nothing like conducting a survey, only to not get the results you were expecting because of the chosen audience. Before you distribute, take the said audience into consideration first. Are they truly your targets? If so, how can their responses help? If not, then who then can count as the appropriate audience? The people you approach can also be tied to the goals determined earlier. Avoid being too broad and specify the different groups of people that you want to include early on for the best results.
To implement a publicity plan
Before the survey is launched, it is wise to publicize it. Once that is done, you can publicize it again during the response time, as well as after you have completed your analysis. Make announcements in popular and convenient platforms, such as social media or perhaps even local media. Do not neglect this tip since it is focused on bringing in as much attention to your survey as much as possible.
Don’t ask questions when you already know the answers
If there is one thing that you can do to waste your own time and that of your respondents, it would be to include questions in your survey to which you already know the answers to. Do not include anything that is already known and stick to things that you wish to find out. Even if the reasoning behind this is to find out how a certain decision or topic is going to be received, it is still generally seen as a waste of both time and effort.
Don’t do the survey if you’ve already made a decision
A good point of why surveys are done is to get feedback from an audience regarding a certain topic or problem. If you already made a decision on how to act then there is no use for a survey. Some conduct surveys anyway out of self-doubt regarding their choices or to see how people would react. This is, once again, a time waster and your efforts would be better spent elsewhere.
Don’t do the survey if you lack the necessary resources
The survey will ultimately be used to improve the community through the follow-up actions planned. However, should you lack the necessary resources for them then it would be better not to do the survey in the first place. Your audience is going to get their hopes up and set expectations. If you disappoint them, things like the loss of your own credibility and the specific problem persisting or even worsening are bound to happen.
Don’t rush the evaluation process
It would be wise to come up with an evaluation process that addresses who is involved and who is responsible for what. The survey conducted may produce significant amounts of data, which is dependent on how many respondents participated and how many questions were asked. Although topline results should be shared early, take care not to rush through the entire process too much. Analyze the data carefully and release the in-depth analysis in due time.
Don’t neglect to plan for a public presentation
The clear and concise results are findings that must be shared in public, preferably at a place where people are most likely to see it. If not then you also have the option of releasing the results online through a website or via social media. Before presenting the results, look over it and check for any repetition of terms and do your best not to name any names.
As you can plainly see, community surveys are nothing to take lightly. What better way to help identify, address, and eventually solve the problems of any given community than by talking to those that are a part of it themselves? Because of the extensive work that is necessary to be able to successfully pull this off, many may opt to find certain resources online to help ease their burden. Those who are looking to get survey questions templates can easily do so. All that needs to be done in the end is to make the necessary edits or changes to it before adopting it into your own community survey and you should be more or less good to go.