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The Community Grants Hub, implemented by the Department of Social Services (DSS), supports the administration and delivery of over 21,000 community grants across government. These grants, worth around $7.8 billion, provide valuable support services to individuals, families and their communities across Australia.

To enable the collection of meaningful data about service delivery outcomes from organisations receiving community grants, DSS introduced a new reporting platform called the Data Exchange. As part of this platform, DSS piloted a client survey to enable clients to self-report on why they sought assistance and the outcomes of accessing the service. We partnered with DSS to develop and test ways to encourage greater survey completion rates.

There are many reasons why people may not complete a survey in its entirety. People may not understand why the survey is important, may not anticipate how long it will take, or simply think the required effort is just not worth it.

To address these challenges, we incorporated small behaviourally-informed progress updates into the Data Exchange survey. Updates were presented in a form of a gradually completing pie-chart, accompanied by short messages with references to social norms and highlighting how completing the survey would benefit the individual and their community.

We ran a trial to test whether our re-designed survey worked. We found our changes had a significant impact, increasing survey completion by 6.8 percentage points, from 84.7 per cent to 91.5 per cent.

The outcomes of this trial show how simple low-cost changes to survey design may increase survey completion. With many government and private organisations using surveys to better understand and service their clients, the significance of this finding extends beyond future redesigns of the Data Exchange survey and should be considered by other organisations looking to survey their clients.

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