News & CommentaryArchive
Feb 15, 2010
When Good Surveys Go Bad—And How To Prevent It
Surveys are probably the most common data gathering approach in use by non-profits and foundations. Surveys are easier and cheaper (especially since the advent of free online survey tools) than most other forms of evaluation.
Unfortunately, that means that many organizations rely on surveys to measure their programs and that could be steering them in the wrong direction. David Roberts of New Dominion Philanthropy Metrics goes so far as to call surveys dangerous in his article for Philanthropy Action. Says David, “Surveys can easily lead to bad data and false conclusions that can result in future missteps.“ For instance, a recent study by Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman in South Africa found that roughly 40 percent of survey respondents provided erroneous information about their use of credit.