How Data Collection Is Fundamental To Your Nonprofit

When we think of surveys, there’s a tendency to think surveys are limited to fulfilling market research, we think scientific research, and we think of many other uses for surveys. However, another priceless way to think of data collection is to apply this idea to writing grant letters.

The most important aspect in running a nonprofit is by funding services with donations and grants. As a founder of a nonprofit organization, I’ve learned that in applying for a grant, you must, in short, “prove” your organization is making a difference.

How do nonprofits prove their success rate? By surveying the population you are helping, you collect the necessary metrics needed for writing any grant letter. I’ve found paper surveys and data analysis to be cumbersome. Reviewing many clients’ data is not a one time process. There are followups after followups with the population you help in order to graphically analyze metrics and submit these with your grant request.

While being a founder of a nonprofit, I’m also a technophile and a software developer. I’m always looking for the most efficient operation, and embracing technology has become the most natural path to success. Technology wouldn’t advance if there weren’t a need or use found while on this evolutionary path in technology.

When I first heard about what SurveyAnalytics had to offer, I was ecstatic to have a place where I could collect infinite data and easily organize and review what my metrics looked like. The only challenge I found, was that I still needed to transfer our paper-collected data into my SurveyAnalytics account.

I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could skip the data transfer process from paper to my SurveyAnalytics account?”. It was near this time when SurveyAnalytics released a mobile application that would allow me to collect data from my iPhone/iTouch/iPad anywhere! Silly as it may seem, my heart fluttered at having the technology I needed.

Then, I was met with a situation I didn’t expect. My organization is mobile and we visit other organizations to give our services. Since many of these organizations are confidential, I would sometimes not have access to WiFi on my device. Those were times when I would reach for those inefficient (and paper-wasting) surveys.

Alas, SurveyAnalytics’ mobile application evolved into SurveyPocket. SurveyPocket now met all of my  needs by incorporating online surveys and offline surveys! SurveyPocket enables offline surveys which I absolutely love because I don’t need to depend on always having internet access. Once I do have internet, I simply upload the surveys I’ve taken offline to my SurveyAnalytics account online.

To summarize, with so much work to do in running a nonprofit, why not take away hours, or even days, of tedious data entry for analysis? I’m excited to be on both sides of this project, in helping SurveyPocket’s evolution by helping to develop the product, and by reaping the benefits for my nonprofit. Embrace technology, you can save a lot of time for the things in life that matter to you most.

Feature Enhancement: SurveyPocket Online Connect

As more field researchers are moving towards using mobile applications for data collection, SurveyPocket is the only iPad survey app that can now support BOTH online and offline data collection capabilities.

We’ve recently added the Online Connect option which would give your field team flexibility to use the application anyway you want. If you have wifi access in the field you can create advanced surveys as seen on the online survey platform. It will also allow your team to collect and view all of your data from the field team in real-time.

The Online Connect option allows you to access all surveys from your account on your iPad/iPhone/iTouch. If a survey has branching logic it can only be accessed online. You can enable the online connect option under Settings for SurveyPocket.
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When online connect is enabled, all surveys will show up including the surveys with braching/skip logic.

If you intend to use the Online Connect, make sure to format your survey and test the survey on your iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch prior to your field study.

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Users can select the survey they want to take and complete the survey. Below is an example of a Gamer Survey. Once the data is collected login into your account and click on Reports to view real-time data.

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Feature Enhancements: Capture Field Respondent Signatures with SurveyPocket

Thanks to the IFC show, “Portlandia,” the new Portland catch phrase is “Put a bird on it.”With SurveyPocket’s new Signature Feature our catch phrase is “Put a Sig on it.”


What is the Signature Feature?

SurveyPocket’s signature feature allows for you to collect your survey participant’s signature while in the field. Whether you are looking to use SurveyPocket to collect signatures for a new state initiative, need respondents to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or want to help your daughter win class president at her high school, you can now now enable this when you create your survey on SurveyAnalytics.com.

To enable signature collection, you’ll first need to create a new question under

Add New Question >> Advanced Question Types >> Attach/Upload File.

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Next, you’ll need to select Data Input Type >> Signature/Hand-Drawing.

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In order to require your participant to sign, you can add this by updating the settings to enable validation.

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When you use SurveyPocket on your device, you will now see the signature feature integrated into your survey.

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Feature Enhancement: SurveyPocket Online Connect

As more field researchers are moving towards using mobile applications for data collection, SurveyPocket is the only iPad survey  app that can now support BOTH online and offline data collection capabilities.

We’ve recently added the Online Connect option which would give your field team flexibility to use the application anyway you want. If you have wifi access in the field  you can create advanced surveys as seen on the online survey platform. It will also allow your team to collect and view all of your data from the field team in real-time.

The Online Connect option allows you to access all surveys from your account on your iPad/iPhone/iTouch. If a survey has branching logic it can only be accessed online. You can enable the online connect option under Settings for SurveyPocket.
Screenshot
Survey Software Help Image

When online connect is enabled, all surveys will show up including the surveys with braching/skip logic.

If you intend to use the Online Connect, make sure to format your survey and test the survey on your iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch prior to your field study.

Screenshot
Survey Software Help Image

Users can select the survey they want to take and complete the survey. Below is an example of a Gamer Survey. Once the data is collected login into your account and click on Reports to view real-time data.

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Survey Software Help Image

Ten Ways the iPad Will Radically Change Market Research

Less than a year since its introduction, millions of iPads have been sold. It already appears to be cannibalizing sales of low-end laptops and is set to bypass sales of netbooks. And there is a lot more to come… availability of  the iPad 2, a variety of Android based tablets from other manufacturers, and who knows what else. This is just the beginning of the Tablet Age.

Ok, so we’ve heard all this before, about how tablet computers are going to shake up market research. But there has never been a product quite like the iPad. It’s affordability, ease of use, long battery life, scalability, and sheer beauty are truly revolutionary.

So what does this mean for market research? Here are my guesses.

1. Personal Interviewing Reinvented

There will be a resurgence in face-to-face interviewing in homes, stores, malls, workplaces and anywhere else where we can go to the consumer rather than have her come to us. This type of interviewing has been on the decline because the tools are costly, slow, and antiquated (paper questionnaires, data entry, tab specs, report time). And, let’s say it, personal offline surveys have not exactly been seen as the sexy side of market research in recent years. With the iPad as a virtual clipboard, the process gets out of the way of the interview.  The device takes care of questionnaire navigation, data entry and real-time results, in living color.

2. Increased Respondent Co-operation

Connected to this, the iPad has the potential to more fully engage the respondent. Just imagine, a face-to-face interview with an intercepted respondent who has NOT opted into a panel with the expectation of being paid! There have been reports of much higher respondent willingness to participate once they see that the interview will be conducted on an iPad rather than the ubiquitous clipboard. Of course, the initial novelty may wear off. But I have to believe the interviewing experience using a tablet like the iPad will beat the paper questionnaire every time.

3. Multimedia Interviews

The iPad will change the personal interview into a multimedia event. Questions flow smoothly, not only as text but also as beautiful graphical images. The interviewer can show the respondent a video of a new ad, or some fully realized concept boards or illustrations of alternative packages. No need to carry these materials separately – they are embedded in the program, along with the rotation and skip patterns. And if the stimuli need modification, or copy rewritten, or a question added, this can be done in real-time from a remote location.

4. Responses Beyond Text

But this works both ways. In addition to gathering responses by having the interviewer or respondent herself touch the appropriate boxes, the device can also be programmed to record simultaneous audio to pick up open-ends in the respondent’s own voice, with her tone and emphasis, and time-code these as open-ends. Add to this, the ability to transcribe this audio and use sophisticated coding software AND “professional listeners” (who might very well be those data entry people you laid off), and voila!

5. DIY Market Research

Of course, this will also make it much easier for small businesses to do their own market research. DIY market research is destined to grow when more survey apps are developed for both the iPad and Android platforms. At first, these will be fairly generic, on-size-fits-all apps that can be easily molded to the subject at hand. But soon, there will be apps that are customized for surveys for specific businesses, with simple templates for restaurants, retail stores, doctors’ offices, hairdressers, etc. – the kind of businesses that had been priced out of access to market research in the past.

6. Embedded Market Research

With the iPad, market research can become part of the overall customer experience. Think of a restaurant of the future. The menu is now in the form of an iPad like tablet. I can browse the different selections, see photographs of today’s dishes, their nutritional information and ingredients, even customer reviews. I can order from the pad, and when my meal is over, I can rate what I have eaten and the service. If I want to, I can enter my responses as additional comments, in text or audibly.  This can be done while I am paying my bill, also on the tablet… and all this in less time than I used to spend waiting for my credit card to be processed. You’ve enhanced my experience, reduced communication errors between front-of-house and the kitchen, and done a little market research without adding cost beyond the initial set-up.

7. Online Qualitative

But what about online qualitative? Here the iPad will have a huge impact. Currently the online qual video options are somewhat clumsy and fraught with risk, especially if there are technical failures in real-time. The respondent needs to pretest the equipment and connection, and may need to install a web cam expressly for the purpose of the interview. The iPad will change all this with the future introduction of face-to-face video conferencing – currently available on the iPhone4 and new iPod Touch. A few years from now, easy video conferencing will be standard on all smart phones and tablets. It will be as natural as the telephone is today. And we are not just talking about talking heads here. Screenshots and screen sharing will also be common, opening up all kinds of possibilities for real-time mobile market research.

8. Expanding Online Samples

Before I get tangled in the weeds, I need to make a point about how the iPad and tablets in general will bring many of the non-techie online stragglers into the market. I did a small study among seniors, and found them to be very excited about the iPad and eager to own one. (Though many of them ARE waiting until they are sure “the bugs are out’). This is a device that appeals to both the tech-savvy and the tech-challenged. It requires little knowledge of computing beyond point & click – or swipe & touch. What could be more appropriate for market research surveys? We may finally be able to expand online reach to include a representative sample of over-55 year olds.

9. The Decline of the Web and Web Research

Another big point needs to be made here. Changes in the use of the Web itself are inevitably going to have an affect on the market research industry… and those changes are being brought about by revolutionary devices like the iPad. Many people may not realize that use of the Web is on the decline and is likely to continue to decline. I’m not talking about Internet use here – that is growing both in number of hours online and the percentage of our day. But the Web is only one part of the Internet. It is the part you need a browser to access. With the iPad and smart phones, people will increasingly use apps rather than go to web sites via a browser. When they are not using apps, they will be using email, streaming Netflix, and eventually live tv. What does this mean for market research? Well, one possibility is that the demand for web usability studies may decline along with use of the web. And since apps are so much more focused, static and constantly reviewed by users in app stores, chances are there will be less interest in doing market research on new apps… especially when the app developer is a high school kid with no budget.

10. Changes in Shopping Patterns

Less web, less browers, less browsing? There are already apps from the leading retailers, ebay, craigslist, etc. It will be interesting to see how the shift from website shopping to app-based shopping will change shopping patterns and decision making. Will shopping be more focused, less comparative? Chances are the iPad shopper will modify her behavior in some ways – but we have yet to understand how.

Well, these are my first thoughts on the subject. Obviously I’ve guessed about what is to come and may have missed a lot. What about you? How do you see tablet computers like the iPad changing market research in the future?

About the Author:

Frankie Johnson is the Owner and Principle of Research Arts. She has been involved in market research, both as a client and a practitioner, for over 35 years.  Her experience ranges from conducting thousands of focus groups, training successful moderators, and implementing face-to-face techniques as well as online research tools to to the overall research strategy.

Frankie is also an emeritus member of AMA and founding member of QRCA and is a SurveyPocket certified consultant.

Website: http://www.researcharts.com

Original blog post article: http://www.researcharts.com/2010/09/ten-ways-the-ipad-will-radically-change-market-research/

Project Management: Four Problems to Avoid

It is important that you never trust to luck when you plan a project. Hope is not a strategy. Remember the words of Napoleon, when he was asked if he believed in luck. He said, “Yes, I believe in luck. I believe in bad luck. And I believe that I will always have it, so I plan accordingly.”

There are four main problems in project management. Each of them can be avoided by taking the time to think carefully before embarking on a new project.

1. Not Allowing Enough Time

The first is not allowing enough time to complete a multi-task job. This is the primary reason why projects fail and people’s careers get sidetracked or torpedoed. They hope for the best, trust to luck and don’t allow a sufficient cushion of time to complete every step of the project. As a result, the project fails.

2. Assuming the Best

The second problem is assuming that everything will work out all right. As Alex McKenzie said, “Errant assumptions lie at the root of every failure.” Never assume that everything will work out all right. Assume that you are going to have problems. Allow yourself sufficient time and resources to solve those problems and keep the project on schedule.

3. Rushing at the End

The third problem in project management is when the project team ends up rushing at the end. When you rush to complete a project, because you have run out of time or money, you almost invariably make mistakes and do poor quality work that you have to go back and correct later. It actually takes less time to finish a project correctly if you work at it slowly and steadily and do it properly in the first place.

4. Trying to Do Several Things at Once

The fourth problem in project management is trying to do several things at once, and you ending up doing nothing well. You either take on too much at a time, including too many responsibilities yourself, or you assign too many responsibilities to other people. In either case, various parts of the project fall through the cracks and sometimes all the effort is lost. Do things one at a time, and do each thing well before moving to the next task.

How to Avoid These Problems

Plan Your Projects Visually

One of the most powerful methods for designing and project managing is called “Storyboarding.” It was originally developed by the Walt Disney Corporation to plan cartoons and movies and was eventually used in every part of the business.

On a storyboard, you create a visual image of the project, mounted on the wall, so that everyone can see it and comment on it. You begin with a large corkboard. You then get boxes of pins or thumbtacks and stacks of 3 x 5 and 5 x 8 index cards. Get several felt pens with different colors. You are then ready to begin.

Across the top of the storyboard, write the major parts of the project plan in one or two words, on 5 x 8 index cards, with the colored felt pens. These are very much like the titles of the chapters of a book, and are called “headers.” You may have anywhere from three to 10 different headers as the main parts of the project.

Under each of the headers, you place 3 x 5 index cards. You list an individual step in the completion of the task on each of the 3 x 5 cards.

When you are finished, you will have created a visual representation of the entire project, showing what needs to be done, and in what order. You can then write the name of the person who is responsible for each of the jobs on the card listing the job.

With this layout, you can move headers and job descriptions around. You can change their order and schedule. You can change the person who is responsible and the deadline.

You can also use storyboarding with a sheet of paper. You can write a series of larger boxes across the top and then write a series of steps in each of those tasks in boxes underneath. The more visual you can make the project and the project plan; the easier it is for you to see relationships between the various tasks, and to make whatever changes are necessary to assure that you complete the project on time.

© 2011 Brian Tracy, author of Full Engagement!: Inspire, Motivate, and Bring Out the Best in Your People

Author Bio
Brian Tracy
, author of Full Engagement!: Inspire, Motivate, and Bring Out the Best in Your People, is one of the top business speakers and authorites in the world today. He has spoken in almost every city in the US and Canada, and in 58 other countries. He addresses more than 250,000 people worldwide each year. He has written 50 books and produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on management, motivation, and personal success. He is the president of Brian Tracy International as well as Business Growth Strategies, which is the preeminent Internet business learning portal in the world today. He lives is Solana Beach, California.

For more information please visit http://www.briantracy.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

4 Smart Ways to Expand Your Small Business

Today’s guest post is from Carol Roth, author of Entrepreneur Equation.  This post is adapted from the book.


A new ADP survey says companies with fewer than 50 employees increased payrolls by 117,000 last month — the biggest hiring surge since 2006. AndPaychex Inc., which manages payroll accounting for companies with fewer than 100 workers, said checks per client rose 2.8 percent from a year ago in the first quarter of 2011, the biggest gain in two years.

For many small businesses — particularly sole proprietors and mom-and-pop operations — expanding brings with it challenges as well as opportunities. The key to growing your small business is to do it the smartway. Here are some tips that may help.

Learn to delegate.

You were smart enough to start your own business. Now use those smarts to figure out a way to simplify, standardize, automate, and delegate tasks in a way that can’t be screwed up by the average employee (think McDonald’s). Create a list, and every time you have a task you would delegate to an employee, add it to the list. Not only does it get you in the habit of delegating, but over time you have created a job description so that you know who you’re looking for when you’re ready to hire.

Hire thoughtfully.

Beware of “hiring gotchas.” For example, spend time putting together a hiring strategy and good questions in advance. Educate yourself on what you can’t by law ask in an interview, and research what other companies pay for such a position, as well as benefits you’re willing to offer (beforethe applicant asks). You might want to steer clear of hiring friends and family. If you’re clueless about how to find a good pool of candidates, consider using one of the new, low-cost virtual services, such as Elance.

Expand by outsourcing.

Let’s say you’re ready to offer new services to your existing customers, but in order to motivate these customers and woo new ones, you have to do social marketing. The problem is, you have no clue how to do it. That’s okay! Smart business owners don’t try to do everything themselves — they outsource professionals to help them focus on what they do best. There are great new online enterprises like Deskelf that will match your needs with virtual helpers — from accountants to social media marketers. And they don’t have to be expensive — Fiverr, for example, links you to professionals who do tasks for as little as $5!

Partner up.

Imagine you’re a professional photographer/videographer who’s got more gigs than you can handle. Find another business owner in your profession and partner up so you can take on more jobs without having to hire new employees. Another way to grow your business is to expand your menu of services. For example, you have a lawnmowing/landscaping business and you find someone who maintains pools. By partnering up, you can offer your clients a twofer — weekly pool service and property maintenance. Finding complementary businesses that don’t compete for customers creates a win-win for both small businesses.

Carol Roth has been helping businesses grow for over 15 years, ranging from solopreneurs to multinational corporations. She has helped them raise more than $1 billion in capital, complete hundreds of millions of dollars in M&A transactions, secure high-profile licensing and partnership deals, create brand loyalty programs, and more. A popular media personality on Fox News, MSNBC, and WGN-TV Chicago, among others, she has an award-winning blog at www.CarolRoth.com. Her new book is The Entrepreneur Equation: Evaluating the Realities, Risks, and Rewards of Having Your Own Business (BenBella Books, March 2011) — #4 on the New York TimesBestsellers List and #1 on the USA Today Money Bestsellers List.

Get the right people to answer….

Pick the right crowd..

Pick the right crowd...

One of the most common requests we get ask at SurveyAnalytics is “how can I find respondents for my surveys”? You can use your existing clients of course, but very often you need to know things that your current contacts or clients can’t tell you. For instance: why didn’t someone buy your product or service ? Will you get more sales if you change the price of a product? Will your product be appealing to a new age group you don’t sell to at the moment?  Being able to ask questions to the right group of people is critical to successful research.

Sample, or the group of people you ask to take your survey, is a necessity for any market researcher.  Now SurveyAnalytics can provide you with the right sample, at the right time, for the right price !

As part of our service to our existing clients we have a new sample service, offering sample from a wide range of panels we have developed. As a special introductory offer we are able to offer 250 completed interviews (surveys can be no longer that 15 questions) free of charge to existing clients.

 If you were to buy this from other sample companies it could cost you more than $250, but we can offer this to SurveyAnalytics clients for a limited time totally free of charge.

Please contact us at panel-requests@surveyanalytics.com for more details on this great offer.  The sample provided by SurveyAnalytics will be “general population” sample covering a representative cross-section of  the population of the USA.

Enhanced Trend Reports: Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, & Annual Reports Now Available

The Trend Analysis tool available under the Reports tab have been enhanced. You can now create weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.

Trend analysis tools are used for comparing and analyzing trends in aggregate survey data. With trend analysis you can plot variables like the mean, standard dev., variance and mean percentile over a period of time and see how the data changes over time.

To get started click on:

  • Login »  Surveys »  Reports »  Advanced Analysis »  Trend Analysis

You can also perform “drill downs” to find out more details about a particular time-period. Here is where you can specify if you want a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual report.  In this example we have gone with the monthly report.

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For Online Trend Analysis option click on the View Online Trend Tool link.

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You can specify different Reporting Options and generate the Trend Report

What kind of a report will I get? Can I see a preview?

A. You will see an excel generated report which will show the percentage of change over specified time. See screenshot below:

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The Power of Asking “What if” and “So What”

How many times have you run across an innovative product and service and thought “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  Or maybe you’re like me and have these “hairbrained” ideas, decide that they are silly and ignore them only to see them advertised or written about as the next great innovation!

The really neat thing about this interconnected internet and social media culture is that we all have the ability to actually reach out to those people and simply ask them how they got the idea and what they did after that.

One of my new-year’s resolutions was to do exactly that; reach out to people I thought had an amazing idea, product or service and start a conversation with them about what they were thinking and how they made that idea come to life.

And you know what?  The answers I got were not earth-shattering.  They were actually very simple and driven by two questions most typically asked by your average three-year-old: “What if….” And then “So what?”

Here are just a few snippets of interesting conversations that illustrate this point:

Prasad Thammineni, CEO OfficeDrop.  When Prasad graduated from the Wharton School he found himself in possession of thousands of paper documents that contained the sum of his hard work during graduate school.  Inside these paper folders and files was some potentially useful stuff – but it was taking up tons of space.  He asked himself the question “What if ….I scanned all this stuff and made it electronic?”  Not a novel idea exactly, but this got him thinking about the fact that other grad students wanted to do the same thing.  Then he asked “What if there were other people that had documents they wanted to keep, but not in boxes?”  And OfficeDrop, the online document storage site was born.

David Garland is a young entrepreneur who had already sold his successful hockey-themed web site and was on to another entrepreneurial venture.  He and his partner sat in a coffee shop and chatted about Donnie Deutsch’s show “The Big Idea.”  They loved the show but it made them ask the question “So what?”  That simple question started a brainstorm of “What if we did a TV show that focused on young entrepreneurs and provided education as well as entertainment?”  In less than two months David had sponsors and a show.

I’m going to stop at these two very-very brief examples.  But I can tell you that I have at least five more and am averaging at least one per month.   That means that in an economy that everyone says is down, there are people who are choosing NOT to participate.  These people  have consciously set aside their adult mind-set and are asking the “child-like” questions that lead to opportunity.
Asking “What if…” brings out the idea.  But asking “So what?” makes it marketable.  These two simple questions are the root of real, authentic and buzzable differentiation.

I can already hear you saying “If it were only that easy!”  Have you considered recruiting some kids as an advisory group?  I’m completely serious about that.  I’ve heard of large companies recruiting kids as problem solvers and brainstormers because of their un-fettered ability for unconstrained thought.  What have you got to lose?

Kids of all ages (especially elementary school age) love being included in what we are doing.  What makes it boring for them is the cumbersome corporate speak that we use to hide the fact that we are basically unclear about what our value is to customers.
In addition to the personal benefits that you’ll gain by engaging kids in your business, think about what you’ll be teaching them?  You’ll be showing them that their unbridled creativity has value.  You’ll be showing them that just by thinking in a certain way, they can create opportunities for themselves and for others.
And in an economy that has so many people seeing themselves as victims, what kind of a gift would you be giving by creating a new economy of entrepreneurs?