Are you struggling to get responses for your community survey? Discover simple yet effective ways to boost participation and gather meaningful insights from your community.

Key Takeaways

  • Maximize Accessibility: Learn how to make your surveys more accessible by offering both digital and paper versions, ensuring everyone in your community can participate easily.
  • Utilize Multiple Channels: Discover effective strategies for promoting your survey through social media, email, phone calls, and in-person interactions to reach a wider audience.
  • Incentivize and Follow-Up: Understand the importance of offering incentives and persistent follow-ups to encourage participation and demonstrate the value of community input.

A Look at Community Survey Engagement

As community development professionals, you know that accomplishing community projects without community input is impossible. There’s no way around it. I know that every time the word “survey” is mentioned, the boardroom fills with groans and complaints that the community never engages in surveys. Well, that’s just not true.

I’ve done my fair share of community surveys and I’ve gotten qualified participation to help paint clear data points. It’s not that your community doesn’t want to engage; it’s really more that you have to put the effort in to get the engagement. I know that time is a scarce resource, but if you build it into the plan and get your board members and volunteers rolling up their sleeves, you’ll be hitting your targets in no time, whether you need 50 or 300 surveys.

11 Tips to Get More Responses to Your Community Survey?

Here are 11 tips to help you get the survey responses you need:

Create a Digital and Paper Version of Your Survey

Make your survey accessible both online and offline. Provide paper surveys for those who prefer a physical copy and an online version for those who are more digitally inclined. Ensure that both options are easy to complete and submit. Make sure that both versions clearly explain the ‘why’ of the survey – what will the data do for the community, and what will the project do for the respondent?

Paper the Town

Drop off paper versions of your survey in locations where residents can easily access them or perhaps have a few moments to sit and ponder the grand scheme of things. Think of your local library, municipal office, waiting rooms at local clinics, dental offices, hair salons, etc. Make it convenient for people to find and fill out your survey during their everyday routines.

Plaster Social Media

Use your social media channels to help you spread the word about your survey. Create engaging posts, use local hashtags, and encourage residents to share the post within their networks. Make sure that your key stakeholders and shareholders are sharing the information, too! Create posts for your municipality, local newspaper, online community groups, etc., to share. Visuals and short videos explaining the survey’s importance can also boost engagement.

Shoot ’em an Email

Email your network and encourage your board to do the same. Draft a clear and compelling email that explains the purpose of the survey, why their input is important, and how easy it is to participate. Provide direct links to the online survey and attachments for printable versions. Include a personal touch, such as addressing the email to individual recipients and sharing a bit about how their participation will help the community.

Hit the Streets

Sometimes, the most effective way to gather survey responses is to go directly to the people. Knock on doors and have face-to-face conversations. This personal touch shows that you care about their opinions and are willing to put in the effort to hear from them directly. Make it a community event by organizing groups of volunteers to canvas neighbourhoods together, turning it into a social and productive experience.

Pick Up the Phone

A phone call can be more engaging than an email or online survey. Pick up the phone and make random phone calls to your community. This personable approach can be less time-consuming than knocking on doors while still providing a direct and human touch. People are often more willing to share their thoughts in a conversation than in writing.

Attend Community Events

Make your presence known at local events. Register for a booth or table, or just hang out around the entrance to complete surveys with the attendees (make sure to get permission from the organizers first). Being present at events where the community gathers shows that you are involved and approachable. Use these opportunities to explain the importance of the survey and to gather immediate feedback.

Set Up at the Grocery Store

Grocery stores are a hub of community activity. Ask for permission to set up a table near the entrance or exit and invite shoppers to take a few minutes to fill out your survey. This convenient location makes it easy for people to participate. Offer a small incentive, like a free reusable shopping bag, to encourage participation.

Give Something of Value

Thank people for their time by offering a small gift certificate to a local business. Instead of spending $1000 advertising the survey, spend that money on $5 gift certificates for a local business. Everyone who does the survey gets a thank-you gift, showing that you appreciate their time and effort. Partnering with local businesses for these incentives can also foster community support.

Partner with Local Organizations and Businesses

Partner with local organizations and businesses to spread the word. They can help promote the survey through their networks, make phone calls, knock on doors, etc., which will increase your reach. Collaboration can also lend credibility to your survey, encouraging more people to participate. These partners can be instrumental in reaching segments of the community you might not have direct access to.

Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up

Create a list of people saying, “I’ll get to that later,” and follow up with them until you know they’ve completed the survey. Send reminder emails, make follow-up calls, and even drop by again if needed. Persistence shows that you value their input and are dedicated to collecting comprehensive data. Use multiple follow-up methods to ensure you’re reaching people effectively.

Bonus Tip: Show Results and Impact

Once the survey is complete, share the results with the community and demonstrate how their input is making a difference. Publish a summary of the findings and outline the actions you’ll take based on the feedback. This will help build trust and show that their voices are being heard and valued, which will make it even easier to conduct another survey in your community.

Pro Tip:

Don’t know how many survey responses you need for accurate data?

No worries! Check out this awesome Sample Size Calculator from Survey Monkey!

Now You’re Ready to Get More Responses to Your Community Survey!

Engaging your community to get more survey responses takes effort and creativity. By hitting the streets, picking up the phone, attending events, setting up at local hubs, giving something of value, utilizing social media, partnering with local organizations, offering multiple survey options, following up, and showing results and impact, you can significantly increase your community’s participation.

Remember, it’s not that your community doesn’t want to engage; it’s about making it easy and rewarding for them to do so. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to gathering the input you need for your next community project.

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About the Author: Cyndie Mitchell

Driven by creativity and a strategic business mindset, Cyndie is a dynamic professional with a background in business development, community development, marketing, and photography. With 24 years of experience working with Manitoba businesses, non-profits, and communities, she excels in creating and implementing effective strategic plans, marketing strategies, and business development initiatives. Awarded Rising Star of the Year in 2023 by the Manitoba Economic Development Association, Cyndie is a trusted expert in her field. Outside the office, she is an avid DIYer and enjoys fishing, hiking, and exploring the world with her camera.