How do you analyse and compile the results of your survey?

Now that you've gathered the completed surveys, you'll need to figure out the results. Sometimes all you have to do is tabulate the results -- that is, add them up and display in a table.
In fact, you should already now and have tested the way you will process your data at the very early stage once you have defined the goal/purposes and target groups of your survey. (Don't wait to have the data to figure out how you will deal with them !).

For instance, if 100 questionnaires were returned in a survey about problems in the neighborhood, you just need to count the answers. Let's say that there was a question asking what people felt was the biggest challenge facing the neighborhood; 70 people mentioned law enforcement, 10 cited transportation, 15 marked potholes, and 5 said noise. The result in cases like this is clear.

However, analysis can be far more complicated than that. If you're looking, for instance, at how people feel about a service or problem, you may end up with a lot of answers to open-ended questions that are apparently unrelated. In this case, you will need to try to find patterns.

Once you've done that, what do these numbers mean? Well, you will need to look at the overall survey to see how each percentage compares to the others. For example, what questions had the highest proportions of similar responses?

We suggest that you write up a brief report -- one page is sufficient -- summarizing the results of the survey. In your report, look for any patterns -- do people in a particular part of town feel more strongly about a particular issue than those in other areas?

Share this information with your staff. Get their feedback and discuss whether any further surveying needs to be done before completing.

Now that you've figured out what the results mean, you need to decide what to do with them. To whom are you going to communicate them, and how? In case of a community initiative, the results should be made public as soon as possible so that members in the community and community leaders can be made aware of a problem or potential problem and start working to solve it. If other similar surveys have done in the same area, you may want to compare your results with the other surveys' results.
This aspect should also be anticipated very clearly. You should already have scenarii at the definition stage on what you want to do with the data; how you get prepared to exploit the results and to be ready to react as well, in a multi-actors cooperation approach, to the findings).

An organization conducting a survey about its' services might want to use results to provide a better service or to change a current policy to a more efficient one. In a situation where funding is at stake, the results would need to go to the funder to convince the funder of the need for new or continued support. The results could also be used by the organization itself to determine where and what kinds of services are needed.