1. How long does it take to do a survey?
If you are using one of our many standard survey formats, you can usually begin your survey within two weeks of when you commit to survey. From the time we receive the survey cards back from you until you see your written report is usually another two weeks. So, the shortest time span could possibly be 4 weeks. However, we do like to help you do some PR ahead of time to make the best use of the process. So, a typical time frame would be more like 6-8 weeks.
2. Can I customize my survey?
Yes, we do customization for about 20% of our clients. The minimum customization is $50 plus any special printing. Typically, customization costs $250 or more. We can also do entirely customized surveys for very specific applications. We'd be glad to discuss your needs.
3. What is the best time of year to survey?
Schools - we typically recommend any time after the first parent-teacher conference. So most schools survey between October and May. However, approximately 1/3 of our schools do their surveys in April and May (maybe this has something to do with putting things off until the last moment?)
Churches - any time that you will have strong attendance is good for a church survey. It's good, too, to get the opinions of lots of visitors. The very best time is 2-3 months before a board planning retreat.
Donors - any time of year is appropriate. However, because this survey is done by mail, you would probably want to stay away from the holiday season when donors are already deluged with other pieces of mail.
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4. Can I talk with someone who has used your surveys before?
Sure, just give us a call or a letter or email. We're always glad to share the names of clients who are willing to talk about their survey.
5. Do you come to us and set up the survey? How is it actually done?
We try to keep the process as simple as possible. Essentially, we provide the cards and the instructions. You pass the cards out and collect them. We do all the rest.
6. Don't surveys create more problems than they solve?
We have found that often this is true of do-it-yourself surveys. This is usually because of the way in which questions are worded and because it is difficult to conceal internal agendas. Our surveys are designed specifically to be non-indicting and non-threatening. We don't ask questions in a way that will put you in a corner.
7. Aren't surveys just for big schools and churches where there's just so much to manage?
Maybe it's the question of the chicken or the egg. Are they big because they assess and evaluate everything they have to manage? Or do they assess and evaluate because they are big? Either way, if your church or school is not large, a third-party survey will enable you to 1) cut through individual agendas that try to force their way into the forefront; 2) know for certain which issues are truly issues and which are not; 3) objectively decide which priorities are best to address first.
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8. Do you provide help in understanding the survey data?
Yes. In fact, we feel that is our specialty. Our goal is to provide decision-making tools for ministry professionals. So, first, we give you all that data in color graphs. It is much easier to understand a color graph than a page full of numbers. Secondly, with each survey we provide a custom-written evaluation that takes you though the charts and explains what's important, and often gives advice on what to do with the information. To see more clearly just how we provide information you can use, visit "Information I Cannot Do Without" for churches, schools or donors.
9. Do you provide help in using the survey data?
Yes. We are more than willing to work with you on the phone to help you design the best approach to dealing with the data with your leaders. In addition to this, we have access to the best consultants specializing in non-profit development, church ministry management and planning, school management and faciloities planning -- specialists who can come on-site and work with your leaders to develop a detailed plan for dealing with the information you just gathered.
10. Why would DTS know any more about my survey than what we would know?
After six years of analyzing surveys from hundreds of schools, churches and non-profits, and after tabulating data from literally tens and tens of thousands of parents, employees, students, alumni, donors and congregants, we have a pretty good feel for what is ordinary or unusual. Our experience with surveys and non-profits benefits you through our written analysis, phone consulting and on-site consulting.
11. CFA - Do you tell us how much assistance we should give to each family?
No. We feel that is your decision. We do tell you how much they can afford to pay, and you can use your own criteria to determine how much to give.
12. CFA - How long does it take to process an application?
A maximum of three working days. If your school has a fax, we will fax the report to you within three working days of when the application arrives in our office. If you are in a hurry, the family can either fax their application in or complete it on-line for expedited treatment. Often, if you call and tell us you have a Financial Aid Committee meeting coming up, we can make sure that all the available applications are processed and on your desk in time for your meeting.
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13. CFA - How can your calculations be accurate for so many different economic areas and situations?
Not all lifestyles are the same. Every home is different. Our application allows for different life-situations by focusing in on what we consider to be the bare basics. This does not include eating out, home or auto repairs, clothing, cell phones, etc. However, within each category we do have anticipated parameters. When a family's expenses fall outside these parameters, a "verification message" appears that alerts you to when it is best to ask for more information. With these safeguards in place each family is evaluated on their actual financial situation - much better than assuming that every family with the same income has the same ability to pay tuition.
14. CFA - Is there any help for me in running our program?
Yes. When your school registers in the CFA program we send you, by priority mail, a 50 page manual (entitled "A One-Day Tuition Assistance Program") that covers everything from decisions the board needs to make to the aid committee's job description. We even include a proposal that you can use to make presentations to area churches.
15. CFA - What do you do about exceptions?
Exceptions are okay when they are approached in the right way. We instruct parents that if they have unusual or extenuating circumstances, that they should present a request for exception to the school's committee in writing. As long as the committee votes on and documents their reasons and their decisions, it is acceptable to make exceptions.
16. CFA - How do I know how much aid to give out?
Each school situation is different, but we do have ways of helping you know how much aid to give out. One thing is certain, though. If you do not utilize an objective measurement tool that standardizes your analysis/award process, you may be giving out too much.
17. CFA - How would this service help our school?
In at least eight ways:
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