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Want to carry out a mini survey?

Computer with graphs

Mini surveys are great for data collection. But forget about doing it on paper. Instead, take advantage of 21st century instruments to conduct your mini-survey.

For fast and cheap mini surveys on social impact in a high literacy environment, the preferred survey instruments for collecting numeric data are:

  • Mobile phone or web-based survey instruments
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVRs)
  • Phone calls
  • In-person Mobile Data Collection (MDC)

Let’s look closer at the choices you have available for carrying out a mini-survey:

1. Mobile phone and web-based survey instruments

You design your questionnaire on the web. You can then send a survey-specific link to participants in different forms, including by WhatsApp, SMS, email or social media.

The following established instruments are completely free or offer a free version:

To learn more about web-based surveys, check out BetterEvaluation here.

For larger, more complex surveys and continuous communication with clients, the preferred option are cloud based Mobile Communication Technology platforms. These platforms manage large-scale communication with clients and beneficiaries through SMS and voice calling. They can be used to send blast message/call or survey to clients and beneficiaries. These platforms are cloud-based and can be accessed using any web browser straight from a computer, as well as via the platform’s dedicated mobile apps where available. Learn more about affordable, simple tools to collect data.

2. Interactive Voice Response surveys

In an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) survey, participants answer pre-recorded questions through their telephone keypad. Participants can answer questionnaires any time they like through simple touch tone interaction on their phone. Interactive Voice Response survey system are an easy and cost-effective way to deliver self-completion surveys and automated messages to abroad audience.

An IVR platform with a free version that is frequently used in international development is Magpi.

3. Phone surveys

Phone calls may be old-fashioned, but they have a lot of advantages: they are quick, efficient and have a personal touch. Callers can provide additional information and clarification, or can ask probing, clarifying questions. Telephone surveys also tend to have higher response rates than paper equivalents, meaning self-selection bias can be better controlled.

To learn more about when a phone survey preferred instrument.

4. In-person Mobile data collection

Mobile Data Collection (MDC) is the use of mobile phones, tablets or PDAs for programming or data collection. Mobile data collection uses a special software application to run designed surveys which collect specific information from a target audience.

In addition to an incremental change from paper-based surveys, mobile data collection can include completely new information in designed surveys: geographic location through automatic geo-tagging, photographs, and video (e.g., as additional evidence that corroborates information obtained through a questionnaire) and audio (to record responses as proof and for further analysis)

There are many specialized mobile phone platforms available which will allow you to build a mobile data collection survey:


You can find out more about in-person mobile data collection at BetterEvaluation.

For a detailed comparison of available tools, check out impact tracker technology of Kopernik.