3 Steps to Building an Effective Survey

For the past 2 years, my SOURCE team has worked with the Career and Technical Educational Center (CTEC) on building out and implementing an impact analysis system.  CTEC was offering a fantastic program in vocational training for students, but they found that they lacked a procedure to report their impact back to donors, grant foundations, and other relevant audiences.  Below are a series of steps we took in developing CTEC’s impact analysis survey:

Look at the mission statement.

“Through hands-on classroom instruction…CTEC provides innovative learning experiences that give students the necessary skills to enter the workforce or continue on the pathway of higher education.”
Who are they serving?  Students.  What service are they offering that population?  Vocational training.  What is the impact of the service?  Students are better prepared to enter the workforce or continue in higher education.  Answering these basic questions will organically guide the creation of the survey.  For CTEC, we broke down their impact survey into two sections: preparation for workforce and preparation for higher education.  We then developed survey questions specifically around each impact.

Decide Between Qualitative and Quantitative Questions.

What are you going to use your survey results for?  Proof of impact for your donors and foundations, engaging material for your Board and employees, marketing material for new potential clients, etc.  Does each group want to see the same kind of information?  Probably not.   For CTEC, we broke their survey needs into three categories: to begin building an alumni network for internal use, to measure the impact of their services to show to financial contributors, and to collect general information on students for internal use. We created three different surveys for each need, and framed questions accordingly.  For example, for surveys aimed for internal information, we developed qualitative questions about demographics, school attended, date of graduation, job history, etc. The Board and employees were interested in seeing these answers because they wanted descriptions of the population they were serving.  But for the impact analysis survey, we created a quantitative rating system for statements about educational and professional goals, such as “I want to attend higher education” or “I feel prepared to enter the workforce”.  Financial contributors want numbers to verify that their money is going to an organization that is tangibly influencing their target population.

Get the timing right.

Don’t forget to implement impact analysis surveys at the beginning and end of a certain time frame.  Only by comparing results and analyzing the change in answers can you pinpoint your influence on their development and therefore prove your organization’s impact.

Want to create a stellar survey that will create big results for your organization? Our consultants are trained in impact analysis surveys, both quantitative and qualitative, and would love to advise you on all of the above steps!

by vanessa liu