Guidelines for Conducting a Successful Survey

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Asking good questions is one thing … getting good answers is another. How can we increase participation to get the highest level of involvement possible? Here are some necessary steps to ensure a successful survey:

  • The survey: A survey that is not brief will not be completed. If it is not focused, it will be ignored. And if it is not timely, people have more important things to do than fill out irrelevant surveys. We have attempted to address each of these concerns in the Survey we are providing for your use.
  • Assessment window: Nail down exactly when the Survey opens and closes. Make it time-limited. An attitude of “Whenever” leads to poor participation. “Now” or “This week” encourages immediate action. We suggest an 8-day assessment window (Sunday through Sunday). This allows you to promote, promote, promote before the Survey opens … promote while the Survey is open to your members … and promote as the window is about to close.
  • Promotion: Tell your members about the Survey, why it is important, and congregational leaders’ expectation that all members will participate. Talk about the Survey repeatedly and frequently before and during the assessment window. Make sure your people have links/access/motivation to participate. Here are a few examples of promotional tactics:
    • Identify one person in the leadership group who will be the point person for promotion of Survey participation … the face and voice of the Survey over the next couple of weeks. This person is responsible for developing and implementing a promotion plan. He/she will write scripts, make announcements, and ensure that the promotion plan is implemented.
    • One week before the assessment window opens, announce (during your online worship assembly) the upcoming survey, explain why the congregation is doing this, communicate leaders’ expectations about member participation, and give specifics re: assessment window dates, upcoming links, time required to take the Survey, etc.. Promise that all congregational leaders will be taking this survey themselves. Set a specific goal for participation (e.g., 85% of members).
    • Repeat this announcement via email, through all other virtual gathering venues of your congregation (online classes, video conference meetings, shepherding groups, etc.), and post it on the landing page of your website.
    • Two days before Survey opens: rinse and repeat.
    • Day One (Sunday—an announcement during your online assembly time): Provide link to the survey for your members … encourage and communicate expectation of participation … indicate all leaders have, in fact, taken the Survey themselves … provide help access for those who may run into difficulties … communicate once again why this is important and how congregational leaders will use results to understand member feelings and plan accordingly.
    • Repeat this announcement using all the media at your disposal.
    • Daily email blast: No content … just heading—“We want to listen … have you taken the Survey yet?”
    • Day Four: brief video (distributed as an email message and posted on your website) from point person making personal appeal for participation.
    • Day Eight: Last chance! Appeal during your on-line worship gathering to participate. Reminder of importance. Promise of timely feedback on results. Upcoming decisions that will be impacted by this information.
  • Feedback: Timely, full feedback to members of results and disclosure of how those results helped leaders understand member views and make appropriate decisions will build credibility in leaders and ensure future surveys are taken seriously.

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