Data CollectionEducationYour Survey Cover Letter Template

February 11, 2021by Socialsuite

Author: Dr Clara Ong

5 min Read 

Most organizations find the data collection stage of their outcomes measurement journey to be challenging.

This is largely because they have little control over whether their beneficiaries would respond with valid and accurate data inputs.

We have also often seen how a low survey response rate can impact on staff motivation to see out the data collection process. And this is usually where outcomes measurement projects fail.

Learn more about how organizations can overcome common data collection hurdles

But there is one simple thing that you can do to improve survey response rates, and that is writing a compelling survey cover letter (or email). If your survey cover letter hits the mark, then survey recipients are less likely to ignore or discard your survey.

What survey response rate should you be aiming for? 

Read on to learn about our tips on what should go into your survey cover letter.

1. Keep a warm and friendly tone

 It is important to keep a warm and friendly tone to your cover email. After all, you are requesting the help and time of your recipients to complete the survey. Try not to sound too formal, as you will lose the interest if your recipients very quickly otherwise.

2. Begin by asking for help 

People will help, as long as they understand what is required of them (for example, time). The best way to begin your survey cover letter is to start off with what you need from your survey recipients. Keep this brief and to-the-point.

Example:

We would like your help to complete a short, 5-minute survey.

What makes a good survey design? 

3. Explain intent of the survey 

Once you have captured your survey recipients by asking for their help, start explaining the intent of your survey. Again, it is very important to keep this section brief. Try to aim for no more than two sentences.

Example:

Our survey is aimed at understanding what outcomes have been achieved as a result of our program.

4. Address potential concerns like privacy and anonymity 

This is an important section to include in every survey cover letter. Be upfront about how the data will be handled, their data privacy and anonymity.

It is important to assure your survey recipients, particularly beneficiaries, that their survey responses will not be shared or used against them in any way. We have seen that oftentimes, beneficiaries of social services are reluctant or unwilling to provide real feedback on their experiences and outcomes for fear of losing access to a particular service; or in fear that their feedback will be used against them (for example, if they had to provide feedback on their level of drug use).

Example:

Your survey responses will be kept confidential and not shared with any third-party agencies. All survey responses will be aggregated for analysis and reporting, and you will not be personally identifiable in any of the results.

5. Why should survey recipients complete your survey? 

We have seen many measurement projects fail to get decent participation and survey response rates because they do not provide a compelling enough reason for survey recipients to provide their inputs.

In the absence of incentives (for example, a paid survey, or going into the draw to win a free iPad), be clear on why your beneficiaries to complete your survey.

We have found that gaining the trust of your beneficiaries is absolutely imperative to creating a cadence for ongoing participation in your measurement project. So, explain how you will be using your survey findings to learn and improve, and be sure to provide feedback so your beneficiaries feel that their voice has been heard.

After all, isn’t this the point of outcomes measurement?

Example:

Your responses will be tremendously valuable, as it will tell us whether our program has achieved its goals, and the areas that can be improved further. We will show you the impact your responses have had on our programs and services once we have concluded our study.

Bringing it all together

Here is a survey cover letter template that you can use for your measurement projects.

Dear Beneficiary,

We would like your help to complete a short, 5-minute survey.

Our survey is aimed at understanding what outcomes have been achieved as a result of our program.

Your survey responses will be kept confidential and not shared with any third-party agencies. All survey responses will be aggregated for analysis and reporting, and you will not be personally identifiable in any of the results.

Your responses will be tremendously valuable, as it will tell us whether our program has achieved its goals, and the areas that can be improved further. We will show you the impact your responses have had on our programs and services once we have concluded our study.

Thank you!

Further reading: Do all surveys need a consent form?