A survey or questionnaire can be used as a method of gathering feedback and statistical data – on specific services or activities, on planned projects or as part of ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

Planning a Survey or Questionnaire

You will first need to decide who you are going send your survey to. Consider extending the invitation to complete your survey to as many people as you can to ensure that you receive as many returns as possible.

Tips for compiling a survey or questionnaire

  1. have a brief introduction outlining the purpose and topic of the survey and why you value people’s responses

  2. keep the whole survey as short as possible.  A long questionnaire is less likely to be completed and will put people off

  3. make your questions clear and concise.  Be clear what information you are asking for and keep the questions relevant; people will be put off by long complicated questions. Do not include suggested answers as part of your questions. Try to use a combination of closed questions (making use of yes / no tick boxes) and multiple choice answers (which can be supplemented by adding a space for comments), alongside some open-ended questions and spaces for general comments. If figures or numbers are to be included, present them in ranges as these are easier to analyse.

  4. remember to include spaces for comments

  5. make it optional for respondents to add their contact details.  If a person has to add their name and address they may think twice about giving honest answers (or completing the survey at all). However, you may find that it will be useful to have contact details in case you want to respond or follow up on any of the comments made. One way of encouraging people to submit their personal details is to make it clear that these will only be used to enable you to respond for the purpose of the survey. Another is to add the incentive of a prize draw.

  6. include a contact name and details for your organisation so respondents can seek more information

  7. make it easy for respondents to return the questionnaire.  Consider making your survey available online and emailing the link for people to complete. There are a number of online survey formats, some of which you can use without cost. If it’s a paper survey – enclose a stamped addressed envelope or arrange to pick them up at the door.

  8. consider a prize draw.  Adding the incentive of a prize draw encourages people to respond. You will need to source a suitable prize and remember to ask people to include their contact details on the survey

  9. set a deadline for submission

  10. remember to thank respondents for taking the time to complete the survey

After the survey – compiling the findings

After the deadline for submission, you will need to analyse the results from your survey and  identify the findings.

If you have used an online survey model, you may find that the initial stage of collating the data is done for you, although you will usually need to then compile this into a report.

If you have conducted a survey or questionnaire on paper you need to ensure that any analysis is clear and impartial. Do not interpret quantitative data - use averages and percentages to state the results. Do not try to analyse people's comments - reproduce them under categories.

Your survey report

  • present the results of your survey in a clear, concise, jargon-free way

  • begin your report with a statement of the reason for the consultation

  • record the extent of the consultation: numbers of questionnaires delivered and numbers of responses received

  • present detailed analysis under the section or question headings used in the questionnaire

  • highlight the key findings in an executive summary at the beginning of the report. You may need this summary to send to funding bodies or to use as a part of a press release