How to write community survey questions

Our communities are more than just the places where we live. They’re where we work, learn, spend time with friends, and walk our dogs. And they’re where our kids play. If you’re interested in learning more about a community and the people in it — and what they think about it — community survey questions are a great way to gain more insight.

The purpose of community surveys

In essence, a community survey is a series of questions sent to a particular audience to learn more about their community — its strengths and weaknesses, its demographics, and its future plans. 

For example, a government agency might distribute a community survey to a specific neighborhood to learn more about the people who live there and their needs. A local community group may send a survey to its members to ask them about the kinds of services they need. A business may focus a community survey on a specific target audience to gather more details on their buying habits and purchasing decisions.

“A community survey is a set of questions aimed at knowing a filtered target audience at a deeper level,” says Scott Spivack, marketing director at United Medical Credit. “The success of any business strategy banks on how receptive the audience is. If you’re aware of their interests and preferences, you’re able to craft strategies that are tailored to their needs.”

Spivack says the ultimate purpose of any survey is to determine how you can serve your audience best and meet their needs: “This means you won’t be shooting an arrow in the dark. Instead, a community survey gives you a clear vision of your target.” 

Community survey questions that engage your audience

When choosing community survey questions, start by establishing some goals: What do you want to discover from the survey? Who do you want to provide answers to your questions? Your answers will help you decide on the types of questions to include.

“Survey questions should be both demographics- and needs-based,” says Spivack. “With demographic questions, you’re able to segregate the population based on age, locality, income, etc. On the other hand, needs-based questions give you a better understanding of your audience. You get a glimpse into their pain points and preferences.” 

Demographic questions

Many community surveys aim to learn more about the people who live in a particular area. In this case, questions focused on demographics can provide insight. 

Here are some demographic community survey questions you might include:

  • What is your age?
  • What is your gender?
  • Which neighborhood do you live in?
  • What is your average annual household income?
  • What is your occupation?
  • How many people currently live in your household?

Needs questions

Another type of community survey is one that focuses on understanding the wants and needs of the people in the community. Local government agencies that are planning to provide new services to an area often create these surveys, but they’re also useful for local businesses looking to expand their target audience. 

Here are some typical needs questions:

  • Which community services do you typically use?
  • Which community services are lacking in your area?
  • Does anyone in your family have special needs?
  • Where do you go grocery shopping?
  • Which public transportation services have you used in the past 12 months?
  • What would you like to share with your local community council?
  • How can we serve you better?
  • Do you have any suggestions to improve our services?

The right survey tool to gather data

When designing a community survey, you need to ensure you can keep the data you receive secure — and manage it well. A secure drag-and-drop survey-building tool like Jotform lets community organizations customize survey questions and forms to fit their needs. 

Larger community organizations, government agencies, and businesses can use the more robust enterprise survey builder to gather data for their projects. Either way, you can choose from tons of ready-to-use templates to get started.

Be sure to start with a goal and an understanding of your target audience as you create community service questions. “Ideally, the survey organizers want to gain a deeper understanding of the audience’s behavior and preferences,” says Spivack. That way, you create highly tailored questions that garner the most responses, providing you with the insight you need for your upcoming project. 

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