University City

Urban Institute’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg survey ready to help nonprofits

Local nonprofit groups and local government agencies interested in gathering data about their customer base should mark their calendars now.

UNCCharlotte’s Urban Institute is now accepting questions for its 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg survey. It’s an affordable means of gauging public opinion on a wide range of community issues.

The goal is to provide high-quality data for less money. The Urban Institute makes it more affordable by sharing the cost of research. They use a collaborative approach that allows survey sponsors to collect customer information on attitudes, preferences and interests. This is especially helpful for organizations that don’t have the time and money for a full survey.

“It’s a fraction of the usual cost of an individual survey project,” said Eric Caratao, social research specialist for the Urban Institute. “It’s an ‘omnibus’ survey, which means it is comprised of various sponsors who can customize the survey questions.”

Caratao has worked on the annual survey for the past five years. “Previous clients have included the Mecklenburg County library system, city and county government as well as nonprofit organizations like the United Way,” he said.

The annual survey is applied research that includes both landline and cellphone interviewing. The sample size is 400 Mecklenburg County residents (age 18 and up) who are randomly selected. “Because of the increased use of cellphones, we had to increase the price a bit,” Caratao said.“We’ve also included a Spanish version of the survey for those who prefer to take the survey in Spanish.”

The Urban Institute offers personalized assistance to help with effective wording for questions. Survey results will belong to the customer. The first question costs $1,000 and each additional question is priced according to the total number of questions purchased, ranging from $600 to $850 per question.

Surveys will run on a spring, summer and fall schedule. Each season has a different deadline for questions to be submitted.

The cost of the annual survey includes the asking of key demographic questions (including gender, age, race, income and employment status). The Urban Institute will help with analysis, provide data tables and will tailor the presentations to a client’s needs. “Some clients want the data in a PowerPoint presentation and others may want graphs. We also write articles, post information on websites, etc.,” Caratao said.

The Urban Institute is a nonpartisan, applied research and community outreach institute at UNCC seeking solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities. The institute serves 14 counties in the Charlotte area.

In terms of helping the average citizen, Caratao said, “The surveys give information to the public and provide insight on certain topics or issues. It can also track changes in attitudes and opinions.”

Questions for the annual survey will be collected on a first-come, first-served basis.