Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Why charities love mobile surveys
How the shift from paper to mobile data collection improves speed, quality and provides richer insights for charities.
Emily Tomkys ICT in Programme Officer at Oxfam, wrote a great Blog article recently. She shares how and why the charity uses mobile surveys for CAPI field studies, in order to help other charities do the same, especially in international markets with cultural differences.
Amongst the many good points that she makes, are 3 that really resonate with us. Mobile surveys ….
provide speed. They not only cut out the need for time-consuming data entry and validation, they also enable data to be available for detailed analysis, much faster.
improve quality. They reduce the scope for human error in completing the survey as there are no illegible forms to redo (or ignore), which enables easier analysis.
capture more insights. There’s a whole host of features that mobile surveys can offer to charities, which paper questionnaires can’t. Not only does this include enabling additional answer types such as GPS location, photo, video and audio, but it’s also the ability to make the most of the technology.
Why mobile surveys are better than paper questionnaires.
Let’s face it, paper surveys have been around, like, forever! But not everyone has the time or inclination to complete a long and complicated omnibus style paper survey – which is where technology can really help charities (and anyone else).
Mobile survey scripts can use survey logic to ensure that only relevant questions need to be completed. Survey branching lets respondents skip questions or take a particular path through the survey, based on their previous answers. And quota management can be used to ensure that your sample remains representative – whether that’s at individual question level or for the whole survey programme.
Mobile surveys come in all shapes and sizes to suit your needs. They enable data to be collected via SMS, mobile web, app (both online and offline) and even in-app, which means you can provide the right channel mix for your respondents – according to the devices they are using, their location and the mobile network coverage.
How SMS surveys boosted response rates for the Prince’s Trust
One of the charities we work with is the Prince’s Trust. It supports 13 to 30 year olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion.
Many of the young people it helps are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or have been in trouble with the law. Their programmes give young people the practical and financial support they need to stabilise their lives as they move into work, education or training.
To measure success, the Trust conducts surveys 3, 6, 9 and sometimes 12 months after completing a program.
Historically, these were conducted by sending a paper survey to be completed and returned. By 2010, response rates had fallen to below 10% and the decision was made to replace them with SMS surveys.
SMS survey invitations are now sent every other week, and reminders 9 days later. Respondents take part using a FREE TEXT SMS short code.
As a result, the following benefits have been identified:
- Young people like using SMS for their responses and are happy to use the free text service
- This has led to a significant improvement in response and completion rates – these are now 30% (compared to the previous sub 10%)
- More immediate replies, which means that it is much easier to send additional texts to gain instant clarification or check anomalies and errors (compared to a paper form, returned several weeks later)
- The Trust has saved money; SMS surveys are cheaper than printing and posting paper surveys, which means it has more to spend on other activities
- Thanks to this increased and more immediate feedback, the Trust is better positioned to make changes to its programs or identify issues with its vulnerable customers.
If you are a charity or know a charity that is interested in using mobile surveys, talk to us.