Do you work in the arts, cultural or not-for-profit sector in Australia’s regions and cities? If so, you’re no doubt experiencing considerable stress at the moment, amidst a pandemic that has resulted in the cancellation of everything, accompanied by widespread job losses, not to mention Australia’s recent devasasting bushfire season. You may currently have important and urgent decisions to make on behalf of your sector or your workplace.
There has been a flurry of survey work carried out recently in the arts and NFP sector by industry bodies on behalf of their member organisations and individuals. Bushfire-affected regional arts and cultural organisations are measuring the impact of that natural disaster on their towns and businesses. Individual artists around the country are seeking to explore ways in which they can collaborate and support one another in this worrying time of job and opportunity loss.
The good news is that anyone can run a survey at a moment’s notice these days with easy access to free online software like SurveyMonkey. It’s fantastic to be able to use these type of platforms to distribute surveys to a lot of people really quickly to explore issues immeidately following a disaster or pandemic. They’re easy to use, they’re immediate and they cost nothing. But do you know how to design a good survey? Do you really?
Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you know how to use it well
Even though SurveyMonkey and other online survey platforms are free and easy to use, this doesn’t necessarily make you a good survey designer. If you need to gather important information from your members or industry cohort, good survey design is the most important part of the research process. No amount of retrospective analysis, playing with numbers, or even professional analysis will be able to salvage your data if your survey is poorly designed. This is particularly important to keep in mind if you intend to use your survey findings to make important decisions or to lobby on behalf of your sector.
Do you really know how to design a good survey?
Good survey design requires specialist skills. Those of us who conduct research and evaluation have been trained in good survey design. We know how to avoid common pitfalls that can result in low response rates and data that will have limited use and credibility. We know how to:
- ask the right questions;
- select the right question type for each question;
- configure a survey that encourages full completion; and
- maximise your survey response rates.
We can do all of this using the free survey software. Sometimes we use other platforms. But it’s not entirely about which platform we use that makes for a better survey. We are trained and experienced survey designers and researchers and we know how to use all online survey tools to their maximum benefit.
If your survey is designed well, you will have more options for meaningful data analysis. And you will have more data to work, as your response and survey completion rates will be higher. This means you will be able to analyse findings on a number of levels, slice the data in different ways and examine it from different angles to look for the full story.
We want to help you get it right
It pains me to see so much effort going into important survey that work that results in findings that cannot be used to their full powerful potential. To avoid this, please consider investing a small amount of time and budget into working with a professional at the earliest possible stage of your survey. We can help you design your survey right from the start. Then you are more likely to receive the powerful data that you need. Otherwise, by the time the findings come it, it will be too late.
Then, if you wish, we can also conduct analysis for you, most likely in ways you can’t do yourself. We will help you tell your story succinctly, powerfully and with credibility. We can write a findings report for you with text, supporting graphics and powerful infographics to help you tell your story. If your story is told well, you are more likely to cut through and attract the attention, funding and support that your industry so urgently needs at this time.
I work with my long term colleague Pete Wilson from Pragmatic Research on survey design for clients in the arts, cultural and NFP sectors. We strongly believe in the importance of good survey design. We want to take the pain of survey design from you and assist you. We want to ensure that your survey actually delivers what you were hoping it would.
We want to save your survey. Please get in touch. We can provide quick, nimble and affordable. support.
Join our rally and help us support good survey design!