Survey Says: Collecting Feedback at the Church
The first church I worked at had a bit of an identity crisis. They’d recently updated their logo, but none of the members seemed to have noticed. And it wasn’t clear if the mission statement was understood by anyone.
One of the first actions I took as the church communicator was conduct a brand survey. I created a list of questions asking about our church’s identity. I printed them out and personally distributed the surveys to a dozen or so Sunday school classes.
Though I can’t remember the results of the survey, I certainly remember some of the lessons learned from this process. Namely, I’m never doing a pen and paper survey ever again.
Collecting feedback through surveys is a crucial way to growth and innovation. And there are plenty of ways your church can implement surveys as a way to stay in touch.
It’s no good taking the time to send out a survey without the end result in mind. These goals needs to be the central focus of all steps of your feedback process. There’s no point in having people fill out a survey if you don’t know what to do with their answers.
Answering some basic questions can help point you in the right direction. What specifically are you trying to assess? Who do you need to ask to get the right answers? How many people need to respond to get a large enough sample size?
Every question you ask in a survey should have a direct outcome attached to it. The results of a survey need to be linked to making strategic decisions.
Creating a Survey Strategy
Once you know why you’re creating a survey, think about what you’ll be surveying. What touch points at your church could benefit from community feedback? What different audiences could be polled in order to get meaningful data?
One-time surveys are fine as needed, but creating a comprehensive survey strategy will allow you to get a wider sense of your audience, without bombarding them with too many questions.
Which surveys to create is an important decision. Here are a few possible ideas to get you started:
- New guest engagement
- Brand awareness
- Ministry interest
- Post-event surveys
- General feedback
Before sending out any of these surveys, be sure to balance out how often you’re sending survey and how many times each audience will be polled. It’s all too easy to over-survey a group.
Choosing a Survey Tool
Picking a survey tool isn’t the most important step, but having the right tool does help implement your strategy effectively. There are plenty of easy-to-use options available; and you can’t go wrong with most of them.
Here are a few of the more popular options:
It’s worth noting that most of these tools offer a significant nonprofit discount off of their premium accounts. I’ve used each of these options personally and had no issues with any of them.
Building a Survey
What type of questions and how many to include in your survey will greatly depend on your audience. But here are a few helpful resources that can get you started.
- 8 Tips on Developing Church Survey Questions
- Sample Questions For a Church Survey
- Sample Church Member Satisfaction Survey
- Church Surveyor Samples
Keep in mind that less is usually better when it comes to filling out surveys. Ask yourself if this is a survey you wouldn’t mind submitting personally.
Your work isn’t done even after you’ve created and distributed these surveys. Follow up is also a crucial step in managing a successful survey strategy.
- Thank those people who filled out the survey; may be even offer an incentive to increase the likelihood that they’ll actually complete it
- Take the time to sit down and read through the results; remember, more open-ended questions may have useful information, but it will take much longer to absorb
- Use the survey results to make a change; improve that event next year or incorporate new ideas into the next sermon series
- If you fail to acknowledge people’s opinions and take them into consideration, they’ll think (rightfully) that you don’t care about their feedback and they’ll stop giving it