November 19, 2017
 
Low-Cost Online Survey Tools Keep Nonprofits on Budget

By Eric Leland

Online surveys can be a huge help in understanding what your constituents think and how successful your programs are, without breaking your budget – and using good tools can be a big part of that.

While online surveys won’t be the right fit for every research need(for instance, a paper survey is likely to get a much-higher response rate at an in-person event, and provide more accurate data among populations that are not as comfortable with computers), they’re great for gathering informal data quickly and easily.

Any good online survey tool will allow you to easily define your survey questions and the possible responses using an online interface, and then send your constituents a link to answer the survey online. But some offer more sophisticated functionality that can be very handy when you’re planning anything more than the simplest survey.

Keep in mind that no software package can do the design work to ensure your survey will collect effective, high quality data. While it’s easy to slap together a set of questions, designing a survey that will capture the data you need in a rigorous way is complicated – you’ll likely benefit from consulting someone who has experience with survey design.

The following low-cost online packages can be a great fit for smaller surveys where advanced question types, survey logic and results analysis are not required:

SurveyMonkey ( www.surveymonkey.com) offers a popular online hosted survey tool that works well for basic surveys. The free version might be useful for very small and informal surveys, but allows very little customization of the look of the survey, no downloads of reports or data, and can only collect 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. The Select version ($16.99/month, or $199/year) offers unlimited questions and responses, customizability, skip logic and the ability to export Excel and PDF files.

Zoomerang ( www.zoomerang.com) is similar to SurveyMonkey in many respects, but offers in general a somewhat more powerful package for somewhat more money. Like SurveyMonkey, there’s a very limited free package; the more useful Pro package is offered to nonprofits for $149/year for unlimited surveys, questions and respondents, and a Premium package ($449/year for nonprofits) includes mobile surveys, comparison reports, multi-user survey sharing and collaboration, and statistical analysis.

SurveyGizmo ( www.surveygizmo.com) offers a low-cost ($19/month) solution with some advanced features—it supports 1,000 responses per month, and basic logic—as well as a range of more advanced packages from $49/month to $160/month. At all levels, SurveyGizmo offers basic piping, fully customizable survey look and feel, and the ability to embed images and videos hosted on your own website.

PollDaddy ( www.polldaddy.com) offers surveys and polls that can be easily embedded into external websites and applications. The free package offers a maximum of 10 questions per survey and 100 responses per month, plus basic reporting. More advanced versions cost between $200/year and $900/year.

In addition, there are a number of inexpensive solutions that bundle in additional features outside of surveys and polls.

Constant Contact ( www.constantcontact.com), while primarily as an email marketing tool, offers “Listen-Up,” a hosted survey tool with some interesting benefits. There’s no free option, but fee-based packages are competitive with other lower-cost options, ranging from about $10/month to $150/month, depending on the number of respondents who will be answering surveys.

FormSite ( www.formsite.com) offers a tool for building website forms – everything from simple “contact us” forms to evaluation forms. Surveys can be customized to match your website by someone familiar with HTML. They offer a variety of prices, including a limited free account, and packages ranging from $10/month to $100/month.

Moodle ( www.moodle.org) is a powerful, free, open source course management software package primarily targeted at schools and universities. Moodle may be appropriate for nonprofits running training programs or schools seeking an all-in-one website, course and survey management solution for their programs.

This article was adapted from the original published by Idealware, a nonprofit that provides reviews and information to help nonprofits make software decisions. To read the full article, click here.

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