Conducting a Survey
in Your Community

Why Conduct a Community Survey?

When community groups want to take action, influence policy, change things around, or shake things up, a community survey is an effective way to find out what people are thinking and how they feel. The Laboratory for Community and Economic Development has developed an online, Internet-based survey tool to help your community:

  1. Gather information about peopleís attitudes and opinions.
  2. Find out how residents rank issues, problems and opportunities in order of importance and urgency.
  3. Give local people a voice in determining policy, goals and priorities.
  4. Determine residentís support for initiatives.
  5. Evaluate current programs and policies.
  6. End speculation about "what people are thinking" or "what people really want."

Community surveys can help leaders build a foundation for community and economic development. This web-based tool describes a nine-step process for conducting a survey in your community. This survey tool can be helpful as you set priorities for your survey, determine sample size, evaluate surveying techniques, and identify questions.

Nine Steps for a Community Survey

Accessing the Online Community Survey Tool

To begin learning about conducting a survey, login to As you enter information, you will be able to access it later by remembering your User ID. When you login for the first time, choose a one word User ID such as the first part of your email address ó it should be easy to remember.

If you have installed the RealAudio Plug-in, choose the narrated tour to listen to a brief overview of how the survey tool works. RealPlayer is an audio and video playback tool for the Internet. The majority of audio and video on the web is played back with this plug-in software. This software is free and easy to install. Instructions for downloading the RealPlayer software are available on the login page. Login and follow the nine steps to learn more about conducting a survey. Each of the boxes in the diagram are interactive and provide valuable information about conducting a community-driven survey.

  1. The first step for all community initiatives is to create a survey committee that represents a broad spectrum of local interests.
  2. The committee will identify important community issues that should be addressed by the survey and the stakeholders (people affected by the issues addressed in the needs and resource survey).
  3. Stakeholders should be included in planning the survey instrument and disseminating the results.
  4. The questions to include in your survey can be selected from the bank of questions provided on the Internet site.
  5. The committee will determine who to sample and how many people to sample. They will identify the list or sampling frame from which to select the sample, and determine which survey distribution technique to use.
  6. The committee will be responsible for distributing the survey to the local population.
  7. The Laboratory for Community and Economic Development will assist with the data analysis phase of the survey.
  8. The online survey tool provides an interactive framework to help summarize the findings of the survey and to draft a preliminary Executive Summary.
  9. With information from the community survey, the working committee can create a report with recommendations for action.

For More Information:

Julie Fesenmaier
Laboratory for Community and Economic Development
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
905 S. Goodwin
Urbana, IL 61801

Tel: (217)355-6166

Email: Julie Fesenmaier []

U of I logo Community & Economic Development
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Laboratory for Community and Economic Development

222 Bevier Hall
905 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61801