We look at some of the best online survey tools, which are vital in helping charities measure and improve their performance and marketing and communications
Listening to beneficiaries, supporters, funders and volunteers is crucial for charities as they look to improve.
Valuable information can be gleaned from these stakeholders such as how services are performing, how donors like to receive marketing and communications and what appeals to funders.
Surveys can also significantly enhance marketing and communications, with the results offering an engaging insight into the public into why charity services are needed.
To help charities consult there are a raft of digital survey tools available. These offer a cost-effective way of finding out what people think of a charity or voluntary sector issue.
“An online survey is a great way to collect feedback from your organisation’s service-users or other stakeholders,” according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
Here we examine four of the leading survey tools that charitable organisations have found key to improving and addressing a range of areas, from service delivery and funding to marketing and communications.
Among the most widely used online survey tools used by charities and a number of other sectors is Survey Monkey.
This offers a free plan, which allows a charity to send a survey of up to 10 questions, which can include images as well as text. This can be handy for small charities looking to send out a short online survey as a snapshot of stakeholders’ views.
Paid for plans are also available, offering extra features that can significantly enhance the quality of survey results. A deeper insight into the views of supporters and stakeholders can also be gained through investing in a plan.
For example, the £25 a month plan allows unlimited questions and surveys, with customised feedback. A payment page can be added so that respondents can also make a donation.
The more expensive plans offer extra functions, including multilingual options and advanced evaluation, such as allowing charities to see how results from a survey have changed over time.
Charity digital experts, including Zoe Amar Digital, Skills Platform, The Catalyst and CAST are among those to effectively use Survey Monkey this year. Their 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report Survey used this tool to survey charities about their level of digital technology skills. This survey was updated as it was taking place to include extra questions on how COVID-19 has affected the sector.
Charities can also use surveys to run quizzes for beneficiaries. London’s Air Ambulance is using Survey Monkey in this way to help children with their home learning amid the pandemic. This is part of the charity’s school outreach programme.
The basic, free package offers unlimited surveys with a 15 question and 100 response limit. Meanwhile, paid for plans start at £30 and offer additional features such as unlimited responses and customisable survey themes. It also offers a not-for-profit discount on accounts.
Smart Survey is particularly keen to stress to charities its compliance with data protection legislation, which is especially important in the voluntary sector due to the vulnerability of many service users. This was a particular factor in medical charity Anthony Nolan using the service, says Smart Survey due to the tool’s guarantee “that all data captured would be stored securely within the UK, safeguarding respondents”. Anthony Nolan’s plan allowed it to review feedback from surveys in real-time for swift up to the minute evaluation.
Parkinson’s UK has more than 38,000 members and has found Smart Survey particularly useful in surveying large groups. This has been used to evaluate training courses, service delivery and fundraising.
Another digital survey tool utilised by charities is SurveyGizmo, which offers a variety of paid-for schemes, ranging from £20. The cheapest package offers unlimited surveys and questions. Meanwhile, further functions around analysis, quiz options and webpage directs are also available. As with many survey tools, it also offers the chance for charities to deploy the survey via social media platforms.
Among charities to use this tool is the MS Society. In April it used Survey Gizmo to survey more than 1,000 people living with multiple sclerosis on their attitudes to COVID-19. This found that more than a third believe their mental health has suffered as a result of the crisis. This information has been used to enhance the marketing of its emotional support services.
Young Minds is another to use Survey Gizmo this year, for a survey of more than 3,000 secondary school teachers on attitudes to mental health and self-harm among children.
Online form builder Cognito Forms offers a range of custom form building functions including sign up and registration forms as well as surveys. It also has a series of templates designed for not for profit organisations. This includes a volunteer survey template, with answers ranging from “very unsatisfied” to “very satisfied” with volunteer programme issues such as the helpfulness of a volunteer leader.
A free plan is available, which allows one user and unlimited forms, although this is restricted to 500 entries a month. Plans from around £8 upwards are available offering more storage, monthly entries and users.
Among charities to use Cognito Forms is East Lancashire Hospice, which says it has found the survey tool ideal for the information it needs to gather.