Conduct the Survey

Key Actions

  • Identify the survey method that makes the most sense for your agency and your research goals
  • Involve community members to build trust and gain a high response rate

You have created your survey questionnaire. Now you need to put the survey in the field in a way that is resource-conscious and will result in a response rate that is representative of the audience you want to reach.

How to Conduct Your Survey

There is no single optimal survey method. Indeed, the goals of the survey should inform the decision whether to conduct it electronically, on paper or in person. Below are five common ways to get your survey “out the door.” Each has its own set of pros and cons:

Administration Details Pros
Cons Best Use

* Send an email to existing park and recreation contacts.

* If the survey is for a class, the registration list likely includes an email address for each participant.

* Low Cost.

* Efficient.

* Limited to existing contacts.

* List may not be representative of the audience you want to reach.

* When you have access to an email list that reflects your target sample (e.g., programming where participants must register with a valid email address).

* Can be used for agency-wide surveys when the jurisdiction maintains a list of resident email addresses.


* Put brief context and the electronic survey link on a “snail mail” postcard.  

* Most representative response pool out of all methods.


* Significant expense with printing the postcard and for postage.

* Low response rate.

* Good for general feedback surveys not tied to a specific event (e.g., agency feedback, feedback about a particular park/rec center).

Public event / canvassing a park & rec center

* Conduct brief interviews with locals at an event
(or have them complete paper surveys).


* Offers in-person engagement with the community.

* Cost and time intensive.

* Representative response pool unlikely (in particular, you don’t get feedback of non-attendees).

* Events w/ formal registration.


* Place a survey link on your park and rec web site.

* Lowest Cost

* Most Efficient Method

* Response unlikely to be representative of the pool.

* General feedback and comments about the agency and its offerings.

Door to door interviews

* Canvass the communities and knock on doors to interview residents.


* Very representative of the audience you intend to reach

* Cost and time intensive.

* Respondents may feel the process is intrusive.

* Good for general feedback surveys not tied to a specific event (e.g., agency feedback, feedback about a particular park/rec center).

How to Achieve a High Response Rate

1. Keep your survey short, one that takes less than five minutes to complete, if possible. Brevity is even more critical if you are conducting the survey in-person. Test how long it takes to do the survey, especially if it will be a verbal intercept survey. You may be shocked at how much time a “brief” survey takes.

2. Consider offering an incentive. If your budget allows, enter survey respondents into a drawing for a small-dollar gift card or a discounted agency event registration.

3. If surveying at a public event, have staff or volunteers who are well-known to the community conduct the survey. Surveyors should wear a badge or agency shirt so they are easily identified as a representative of the agency.

The overall theme in conducting a successful survey is this:  be clear and brief. Be clear about your goals, and short and sweet with your messaging around the survey, and with the survey itself.

If your community understands why you want their feedback, knows what you will do with it, and sees a short survey to complete, they will engage with you.

Step 1: Set The Survey Goals

surveys customer feedback step one set goals 410

What do you want to achieve with the survey? What information do you most need to glean from the survey results? Based on those results, what actions will you take?

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Step 2: Create The Survey

surveys customer feedback step two create 410

Design a survey questionnaire so that responses provide you with actionable results. At the same time, participating in the survey should be a high-quality customer experience. Keep the questions (and the survey as a whole) short and to the point.

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Step 4: Use The Data

surveys customer feedback step four use data 410

Use the feedback you receive both inside and outside your organization to improve your agency and its programming, as well as celebrate and broadcast successes.

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