Incentives for survey pariticipation (homeless and marginalised; practise+literature list)

We are running surveys with chronically homeless female and gender diverse people who transition from the shelter into housing. Pre surveys are OK; post-surveys (once they are housed) are a real challenge.

I’d like to ask the community to suggest their ideas and literature they know how to up survey participation for marginalised populations. We cooperate with researchers and have tried the following (in combinations) to date but please add to the list (and add any cons/challenges you have encountered)!

  1. Asking housed clients to come back to the service centre/shelter (trauma retriggering)
  2. Incentives of $5-10 gift cards (Tim Hortons, Giant Tiger)
  3. Mailing surveys to participants incl gift cards (and cross fingers you get a response)
  4. Calling/e-mailing (previously transient people are not often having access to either of these means)
  5. Meet with a Research Assistant at a neutral place to administer the survey (time/travel=$$$ intense)
  6. Meet with a peer worker at a neutral place to administer the survey (lone worker HR policy issues; time/travel=$$$ intense)

Hi @pnowotny,

This is a question that often comes up…“how to increase response rates”, so I’m glad to see it here for discussion.

With all surveys (Pre/Post), I think the objective is to minimize the burden of participation by respondents. As part of your programming, is there any other engagement that occurs after participants have been housed? If so, including the survey as part of your post-program check-in might reduce the associated costs of administration.

One other suggestion could be sharing with participants - as they exit the program (i.e. once they’re housed) – that you’ll be sending a follow-up survey in x months, so that it’s expected.

What has been your experience with your listed methods? Have some worked more effectively than others?

I hope that others will also engage in the discussion and share their experiences with surveying vulnerable populations.

1 Like

Thanks for your post, Phil. The Local Poverty Reduction Team is hearing about this challenge from many of our grantees who are working with vulnerable populations that experience a lot of transition in their lives. Getting good completion rates for surveys can be really tricky. Many of the groups I am working with use small incentives (#2 on your list) and try multiple routes to reach participants (#4 on your list) but also experience the difficulties you outline. Sandra has some good suggestions in her post and I also found some research that suggests persistence is key, with some clients requiring up to 10 follow-up calls to achieve survey completion! However, this obviously increases costs and wouldn’t always be a viable approach.

Looking forward to hearing from others who might have tried additional follow up strategies.