Sheila Matano and Dani O’Neill on Alternative Methods for Qualitative Data Collection: Community Survey Day

Hello, we are Sheila Matano and Dani O’Neill from Carson Research Consulting (CRC). We at CRC are currently in the process of conducting a survey on relocation and housing stability. Although surveys are an incredibly useful method for gathering quantitative information from large populations, response rates vary widely. In order to promote our project, interact with the community and hopefully increase our response overall rate, CRC conducted a Community Survey Day for residents in addition to providing the survey online and mailing out paper surveys.

Lesson Learned: Planning and preparation.
Planning is essential! Staffers started planning for community survey day about two months in advance.  We had meetings to discuss logistics and created a master task list to make sure everything we needed would be ready for the day of the event. Google Drive provided a way to easily edit and update important documents that could be accessed by all team members.

Lesson Learned: Know your target audience!
Using background information on the target audience, we attempted to tailor the event to the resident’s needs. We found a central location that was easily accessible by public transportation and also offered free parking. In addition, we gave residents the option of taking the survey online, completing a paper survey or taking the survey over the phone. We wanted to make sure that respondents could choose an option that was most comfortable for them.

Lesson Learned: Advertise!
We advertised the event in three ways:

  • We sent a letter to our targeted residents informing them of the event
  • We created event flyers that were distributed to residents
  • We also made phone calls to residents a few days before the event

Hot Tip: The Day of the event
Community Survey Day was hosted on a Saturday to give residents who work during the week the opportunity to attend, and we also offered breakfast and lunch to all attendees.  Staff interviewers were available to do survey interviews with residents from 9am to 5pm. The interviewers read questions aloud to the residents and inputted their responses directly into SurveyMonkey via laptops; residents did not use computers themselves.

Hot Tip: Having the survey online made it readily accessible to interviewers and made the process of completing surveys faster and easier than using paper surveys (although we did have paper surveys on hand in case technology failed us!).

Outcome: Overall, Community Survey Day was a success. We had the opportunity to directly interact with residents and get valuable feedback about our survey. Residents appreciated that they could come in and talk with us directly, as well as offer their suggestions about our project.

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1 thought on “Sheila Matano and Dani O’Neill on Alternative Methods for Qualitative Data Collection: Community Survey Day”

  1. Thanks for posting, Sheila and Dani. I’ve got a few follow-up questions for you that, on things that you might not have been able to fit into the blog post. (I know that the word count limits can be tight!!)

    * Why did you decide to pull people together, rather than go to them in person? Presumably you had some kind of financial limits that stopped you from going door-to-door to follow up on the letters? Were there other reasons?

    * How big was the “community” you were trying to reach (in geographic area, also # of people) and how many were you able to reach on survey day? In total? (I suppose I’m asking for your response rate)

    * Do yo have a sense of how many people you reached by doing this kind of event-based outreach, who would otherwise not have responded another way?

    * Any thoughts on cost issues? (Both in terms of staffing time, but also hard costs on things like building rental or equipment?)

    A very interesting and practical blog post that just got me thinking – but I’d love to hear a little more.


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