Answering Respondent Questions About Mailed Surveys

  • 8 June 2021
  • 0 replies

You may receive questions from respondents about your Polco survey or poll. We’ve created this list of FAQs to help you and your staff answer these questions during the time the survey or poll is open. You can find a general Polco FAQ sheet here. The following is more specifically focused on questions from respondents about mailed surveys (these respondents are part of your probability-based random sample).


I received a postcard in the mail today saying I’ve been selected to take a survey – is this legitimate or a scam?
The survey is legitimate and is being conducted by the [city/town/county/etc.] using a third-party civic engagement platform called Polco. We are using this survey to learn more about residents’ perceptions of our community [or insert specific topic area/goals]. The results will help us better plan to meet the needs of all our residents. Please take the survey and share your voice! All your responses are confidential. 


How did you get my address?
Your address was sampled at random from a list of all addresses from the post office. This is a standard service offered by the post office. It is not a city government file and no household member is named in the file.


I received your survey, and while I own the property that it was sent to, I don’t live there. What should I do?
The resident of the property should complete the survey.


Who can participate in the survey? Can I share my survey link with another person?
If you received a postcard invitation and/or paper survey in the mail, please do NOT share that link. That survey is intended for randomly selected households only. For recipients of that mailed invitation, the individual in that household who most recently had a birthday should complete the survey. 

However, if you saw the open participation survey link shared on social media or [other open participation outreach methods], feel free to share--all residents are welcome to participate in that effort! We appreciate your help in spreading the word!


What is the purpose of requesting the person who most recently had a birthday complete the survey?
We have randomly selected households within our jurisdiction to receive the survey. We would also like to choose in an unbiased way a person within each household to complete the survey. This way we ensure the results are representative of our community as a whole. While it may seem a bit strange, using the “birthday method” is a simple way to select an adult from within each household without permitting bias in our results.


I am the person in my household who most recently had a birthday, but I am not very informed about the issues covered in the survey. Can I give the survey to someone else in my household who is more informed?
We would prefer that you complete the survey. The “birthday method” described in the letter creates the most representative sample of our jurisdiction. You’ll be surprised at how much you can contribute.


I doubt that you are interested in my opinion, since I rarely leave my [nursing] home. Should I really complete the survey?
Yes, the government is here to serve all residents, and it is important to us that we get feedback from a complete cross-section of our residents.


If I filled out the survey when I first received it, should I fill it out again now that I have received a second copy?No, please don’t fill it out again. Since we only want one response from each person, those who already sent in a survey should not return another one. Thank you for completing the first survey!


I was not sent a survey, but I would be happy to complete one, and I think you should be interested in my opinion.
The sample was designed to be as representative as possible of the population of our city, so by sending copies of the survey to people who request a copy, we would skew the sample and make the results less meaningful. We will open the survey up to the entire community in a couple of weeks, so watch for upcoming announcements about that!


How long will the survey take to complete?
It takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. 


Why are there certain survey questions? Some don’t apply to me.
We aim to have most survey questions be applicable to all residents, but if any questions don’t apply to you, you can always choose “don’t know” or answer to the best of your ability.


What will be done with the results?
When thinking about why you, the jurisdiction, are doing the survey, you should develop a plan for how you will use the results of the survey. Convey this to your residents.


Who is Polco? Why isn’t someone else conducting this survey?
Polco is an online community engagement platform that is conducting this survey on the [city/town/county/etc.]’s behalf. Polco’s survey scientists develop surveys, analyze the data, and provide local governments and other public sector leaders with important information needed to make informed decisions. Hundreds of organizations nationwide use Polco for strategic planning, budgeting, and amplifying resident voices. Using Polco’s secure platform saves local governments and organizations money and staff time, allows a broader range of people to give public input, and protects respondents’ privacy. Your answers are confidential, and your personal information is never shared with anyone, not even our staff.


Why are you asking for personal information like income level, gender, age, etc.?
First of all, I want to assure you that this information is confidential! In the report we receive from Polco, your responses will be combined with others into larger, aggregated groups, and you won’t be individually identified by your answers. We use this demographic information to make sure that we’re hearing from a variety of people (across all ages, income levels, and more), and to make sure that the overall survey results are representative of the entire community (using Census data and weighting as needed). It also allows us to see whether any groups of residents could be better served in certain ways. However, if you’re not comfortable answering some of those questions, feel free to leave them blank! We appreciate your time and want to hear whatever you’re able to share with us.


Why is “Hispanic” separate from “Race”?
We want to compare the demographic profile of those responding to the demographic profile of the municipality as presented by the Census. In order to be able to do this we asked our race and ethnicity question the same way the Census does. The census designates Hispanic as an ethnicity, not a race.


How can I be assured that my feedback will remain anonymous?
This is a confidential survey conducted by a third party (Polco), so your identity is completely secure. Polco’s privacy policy is very strict and designed to protect your information. Your responses are confidential, and all personally identifiable information will be safe, never shared (not even with our staff!), and never associated with the input you provide. Their privacy policy can be found here: https://info.polco.us/your-privacy 


What does Polco do with my personal information (name, email and ZIP code)? Why am I asked for it? 
First of all, we want to assure you that your information is secure! Polco uses your email, ZIP code, and full name (if provided) to verify your residency against publicly available voter information in your state. With verified respondents, we can reduce the risk of one person answering many times. Entering your email address will create an account with Polco, so you can find out when the [city/county/etc.] posts additional surveys or polls in the future. 

When you participate on Polco, all personally identifiable information will be safe, never shared, and never associated with the input you provide. Polco’s privacy policy (located here, for reference) is very strict and designed to protect your information. Email addresses are kept separate from the survey responses and are not tied to any data that the [city/county/etc.] receives from Polco. Email addresses are not sold or shared with other parties, for any reason, ever; not even our own staff have access to this information.

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