It has been a while and we are glad to be back. In this issue we focus on conducting online surveys.  More and more organizations are using online survey tools for a variety of needs.  To evaluate satisfaction of clients, learn something from stakeholders, or gather data for a report – there are many reasons to look more carefully at how you can use online survey tools. In Dot Org # 10 we explore the uses of online surveys, mechanics of online survey design, and connecting the survey process to other organizational activities. We close by offering a few short case studies and a list of vendors offering online survey tools.

There are many reasons to consider using an online survey tool. For example:

• Online surveys are often easily and quickly assembled

• They are usually low cost or free

• Distribution can be very broad and quick (Assuming you have an up-to-date list of email addresses)

• Online surveys can produce high response rates since there is a direct link to your survey in your email announcement

• Survey tabulation is provided within minutes by the online survey tool

• It’s easy to share survey results with others via a direct link to the survey tool

• Online survey data checking and verification are performed immediately while the respondent is taking the survey

• Data is captured electronically so no manual data entry is necessary

• It can fit in with your marketing plan as you can often brand surveys with your logo and direct respondents to your web page when they complete the survey

Cons of online surveys:

• The survey sample may not be big enough or not accurate due to poor quality of email distribution list. Given the poor quality of many nonprofit email lists, this issue may be a big concern in the nonprofit sector.

• Most online survey tools are limited in how their appearance can be customized

• Some survey tools limit the number of responses you can have with your free subscription. With a paid subscription you may have to pay extra for each response beyond your limit.

• Usually you can’t work on developing your survey offline

• You may need a high-speed Internet connection to efficiently develop your online survey and work with the data

• Some people really don’t like them — they’re skittish about providing information online


You will have to keep a number of things in mind as you move forward. For example:

• How will you get people to participate in the online survey? Should inducements like prizes be offered?

• As with any type of survey, it takes practice to learn how to set up questions to get the right kinds of results. You really need to think through the end results and what you are going to do with them.

• You need to streamline and focus your questions so that they are as few in number as possible. If your survey is too long, people won’t finish it.

• Deeper analysis of survey data is labor intensive, and requires certain skills, but necessary in some cases to get the full story from your data.

• How can you take advantage of your relationships to encourage participation in an online survey?

•How do you create a feedback loop between asking people to take a survey and then sharing the survey results with them?

Dot Org Media