The Pros and Cons of Using Surveys in CSR Reporting

Posted on the 10th June 2019

Online surveys are a quick and scalable way of obtaining data from a defined target group, using a standardised set of questions. Your organisation can adopt this effective way of collecting data to describe and contextualise the Social Value you create. 

Read on, and add a human element to your Social Value reporting.

The value of qualitative data

While the sROI is valuable in CSR reporting, there is a range of social impact activities that cannot be defined in monetary terms. Instead, a multi-method approach is advised – seek out both quantitative and qualitative insights. 

Within your reporting strategy, consider the stories and experiences of the people you support. The qualitative data will give you ‘social’ proof that you are making a difference to real people, which will help showcase your organisation as an authentically good brand.

Which leads us to the pros of using surveys…

  1. Easy to standardise – data collected can be compared across a population by being consistent with formatting and question types.
  2. Can be deployed quickly – reach more people, more quickly, using digital distribution platforms.
  3. Potential to have lots of responses – given the ease of distribution, it is easier to get more responses. The more data, the more confident you can be in your data.
  4. Broad data collected – using a sophisticated range of question types (we use 15 variations), you can find creative ways to acquire a higher response rate.
  5. Easy to admin – high volumes of feedback are more efficiently managed using online platforms which can organise and filter data for you.

… Which are balanced by the cons of using surveys

  1. Costwhile online surveys are considerably cheaper than traditional surveys, they often have a cost per participant. Whereas in IMPACT, they are a feature by default. 
  2. Response Biasrespondent’s response bias skews your data, raising doubts about the accuracy of your data.

Understanding social impact over time

Understanding your social impact over time or the ‘distance travelled’ of a user, involves a process of conducting a longitudinal analysis. This approach enables you to evaluable the impact of an intervention on an individual’s physical or mental wellbeing at significant points in time. You can read more about data analysis techniques here. 

There are a few things to consider before you seek to understand your impact over time:

  1. Make sure you deliver the exact same survey, to the same audience each time – this is to help with your data accuracy.
  2. Set a realistic and appropriate time-frame for the delivery of the 1st and 2nd survey. Again, keep this consistent.
  3. Give each user a personal ID or codes so feedback automatically and anonymously aligns with a specific user – save time and be GDPR compliant!

Final Thoughts

Surveys needn’t be something to be afraid of. They have a tested history of producing results for companies and are a prolific technique of acquiring data within almost all industries.

Using surveys within the context of Social Value is still relatively new. Yet, as we become more familiar with qualitative data and its importance in creating better CSR reports, this will begin to change.

Remember, we’re all going on this journey together, so if you are using surveys at present, we’d love to hear about your experiences. If not, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can work with you to embed them in your organisation!


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