goals for a survey. What information is not known that needs to
be known? Or, what is the reaction to a proposal or plan? Figure
out ahead of time exactly how the information will be used: Will
the survey measure attitudes? Will it demonstrate support for or
against proposed actions? Will it solicit opinions about the value
of resources? This is also the time to determine a survey method
(face-to-face, telephone, or mail) and the target audience.
2. Get professional
from a college or university professor or an experienced professional
company or agency to design the survey and guide the entire process.
Consider the following when developing questions:
in reference to the statement or hypothesis. Know exactly how the
answers to each and every question will be used or else do not ask
Make the survey
brief, concise, efficient; avoid jargon or technical language.
Limit the number
of fill-in-the-blank questions. This will increase the response
rate and encourage participants to give more thought to the ones
that remain. People’s comments, even though they are anonymous,
can become possible testimonials used in brochures, pamphlets, etc.
using a small, outside group who has not been involved in the project.
Make sure the survey is understandable and clear. Revise as necessary.
the person who receives the survey has never heard about the project
or planning effort underway. Include a letter of introduction, ideally
from a community leader or local task force chairperson that explains
the purpose of the survey and appropriate background. There should
be clear, easy-to-read instructions, and an enveloped or other pre-paid
postage return mailer. The survey should be user-friendly and visually
attractive, easy to approach, inviting, definitely not off-putting
as in dense, small-font text with lots of printing, etc.
Make sure the
sample audience is representative of the entire population within
the project area or is targeted to users of a specific site. For
landowners, rely on tax records sorted randomly by a computer. Again,
it is important to use an outside agency or academic institution
that is experienced and impartial.
It may be desirable
to send out postcards a week after mailing the survey to urge people
to respond and to thank those who already have completed the survey.
The decision to do a follow-up mailing can be based on rate of return.
For example, if the return rate is less than 3 percent then do a
mailing; if it is greater than 3 percent, do not do the mailing.
upon a professional to tabulate responses and present the data.
Then prepare a question-by-question report of findings and a brief
interpretation. Create a report or a pamphlet of an executive summary,
post findings on a web site, or chose another method to publicize
the results. If respondents were promised copies of the final tally,
mail those in a timely manner. Coordinate all actions with issuing
a press release that highlights the results and lets people know
they were heard.