Step 4: Invite people to participate

There are a number of things to consider before issuing an invitation to participate in a survey.

Tips for the initial invitation

  • Use simple, clear language.
  • Explain the purpose of the survey, and what the data will be used for.
  • Specify whether the survey is voluntary (they usually are).
  • Outline the importance of the evaluation, including the value to them as an individual, as well as to the wider community of interest.
  • Provide enough detail so that participants can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to take part in the study.
  • Be realistic about the likely time commitment, should they decide to become involved.
  • Be positive and appreciative. Thank people in advance.
  • Provide contact details for inquiries.

Reminders and extensions

People tend to complete surveys either:

  • straight away, or at least within 24 hours of receiving the initial invitation
  • immediately after being prompted by a reminder
  • just before the cut-off date.

When planning a survey fieldwork period, factor in:

  • at least one reminder before the due date
  • a buffer/extension period after the cut-off date, in case you need it.

If possible, only send reminders to those who are yet to respond. Reminders should always be courteous and appreciative of people’s time. A reminder should:

  • start by thanking those who have already responded
  • include the initial survey invitation, if the invitation and reminder are sent as emails
  • highlight the importance of the survey, and how the data will be used.
  • remind people of the estimated time required and the cut-off date.
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