Center for Community Futures
P.O. Box 5309
Berkeley, CA 94705

Contact Us:

Jim Masters, Consultant (510) 459-7570
Matt Klapperich, Accounting Consultant (510) 339-3801
Allen Stansbury, Consultant in Public Policy Research Analysis (707) 540-5776
Teresa Wickstrom, Head Start Consultant (909) 790-0670

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CAA Participant Survey System

Perceptions of Quality and Results for Community Action Agencies

Download the Sign Up document (in PDF format) by clicking here.

What do people think about the quality and the results of the services they receive from your agency?

Now You Can Find Out!

Overview of the Participant Survey System for CAAs

The Customer Survey System measures participant perceptions of the quality and results of your agency’s services.  The CAA Survey System is a simple system that:

bulletLets you find out how people feel about the variety and quality of services of your CAA;
bulletReports the results of the services as perceived by participants;
bulletWorks for multiple literacy levels;
bulletIs available in Spanish;
bulletIs a proven system specifically for CAA’s;
bulletEncourages responses through use of postage-paid response cards;
bulletIs the most affordable system available to CAA’s to accurately measure customer satisfaction;
bulletProvides you with expert analysis of survey findings in a detailed and understandable written report.

It does this by asking customers a set of questions that are designed to measure the major dimensions of service quality. It also lets you ask questions specifically about your program.

The Process Steps

  1. You tell us which programs you want surveyed.
  2. Review the questions we drafted about service quality and results.
  3. Tell us which locations you want surveyed. We use this to code the response cards.
  4. For each location, you can select the specific questions from our list, or you can draft your own questions. We will work with you to make them as specific as possible.
  5. You estimate the numbers of people served at each program location. We tell you how many respondents are needed for a valid sample.
  6. You select or adapt "the message" that will be printed on the card. This is printed on the top of the postcard and explains the purpose of the survey.
  7. You select the method for distributing the surveys to participants that works for you.
  8. Mail or e-mail us the completed worksheet (enclosed) when you have made your selections.
  9. We draft the surveys and send them to you for your review and approval. Then, we print the survey cards or forms and send them to you. We print enough for all participants, even though we know that not all will respond.
  10. The participants fill out the cards and mail them back to us, using our Business Reply Mail permit number which includes pre-paid postage. This increases the number of responses.
  11. We tabulate the responses and analyze the results. 
  12. We compare:
    * different programs with each other;
    * different locations with each other, e.g. different county offices or Head Start centers;
    * overall totals and averages for the program.
  13. We prepare the confidential report and mail it to you. Our turn-around time from receiving the last survey card to mailing you the Report is typically less than one week.
  14. We provide you with specific recommendations about how to improve customer perceptions of the quality of your services.
  15. You read the report, call us to discuss any portion of it -- and use the findings to improve services in your agency.
  16. We store the surveys confidentially for 12 months and then dispose of them.

Report Format.

The report consists of narrative and numerical information based on the survey responses.  The survey results are summarized in pie charts, bar graphs, and tables.  All numerical information is accompanied by a brief narrative which explains the data.

The charts, graphs and tables will show:

bulletAll the responses from each program by location. 
bulletComparisons of locations for a program by question (all locations on all questions).
bulletComparisons of programs with each other, e.g. Weatherization, food, LIHEAP, Head Start, etc.
bulletComparisons of your programs/locations with state, regional, and national averages, if available.
bulletAnalysis of responses that may merit additional inquiry or follow-up.
bulletPercentage of responses for each question for each program or location (e.g. N = 31 or 42% of people served there).

The narrative for each chart provides an interpretation of the data.  Report findings are based on accepted statistical methodologies. A sample page from the report of the hypothetical "California Community Action Agency (CCAA)” follows.

Figure 1.  Weatherization Program Ratings for "Communication"

Figure 1 shows how respondents answered the question, “How well do staff answer your questions?”  The possible answers were: Excellent (4), Satisfactory (3), Needs Improvement (2), and Unacceptable (1).  This shows the average for each site.

Although the Blanca, Jimenez, Harding and East Side locations are rated satisfactory or better with regard to Communication, at West End communication could probably improve, as could Orange.  It may be that the West End rating on this one program is also causing the overall rating of CCAA’s quality to be lowered as well. The West End center should develop ways to provide more effective communication. (Review the responses to the other survey questions from Orange to figure out if that location also also needs to improve communication systems.)

Report Timing:  How Long Does it Take? 

There are a few factors that affect the length of the survey process:

bulletUpon receipt of your selections, Teresa Wickstrom immediately prepares the draft survey/s for your approval.
bulletAs soon as you approve the draft survey, Teresa prepares and prints them.  Depending on the number of programs to survey and the number of surveys at each location, this can take between one day and four days.
bulletAs soon as the surveys are printed, Teresa ships them to you via First Class mail for distribution to participants (2 to 5 days).  If you choose an alternate distribution method, such as sending us mailing labels for those you wish to survey, the time factor increases and depends on the number of envelopes required.
bulletOnce the surveys have been distributed to participants, we allow a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of four weeks for responses to come in via our Business Reply Mail permit. 
bulletSurvey responses are entered into the database immediately upon receipt.
bulletWhen three consecutive days have passed without receiving any additional surveys, we then begin the data analysis and report writing process.  Typically it takes less than 5 working days to produce the Report.
bulletWe mail you the Report via First Class Mail (2 to 5 days), unless you specifically request another shipping method (via e-mail, Fax, FedEx, UPS, or Priority Mail).
bulletOur turn-around time is top-notch.



The cost of the Customer Survey System is a one-time only setup fee of $295, plus $1.97 per response that we receive. That includes: the initial design of the survey questions, the printing and shipping of the survey cards, the return postage for each card, database setup and our data entry, analysis and report preparation. The table below shows examples of total costs for numbers of surveys received.

If this many surveys were received:






Setup fee (first year only)






Cost of surveys received:

$59.10 $197.00 $591.00 $985.00 $1,970.00

This would be Year One’s Total cost:

$354.10 $492.00 $886.00 $1,280.00 $2,265.00

Typically, somewhere between 5% and 30% of the total number of cards that you distribute will be returned.  If you leave a pile on the counter, about 5% will be returned.  If staff distribute the cards and explain the purpose and value of the survey, then the response rate will go up.  We will work with you to identify the numbers needed for a valid survey.  You can pre-determine the numbers to be included.

Download the Sign Up document (in PDF format) by clicking here.


Center for Community Futures. 
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