Quick answers: Why do I have to collect 380 survey responses?

If you’re using the Audience Finder survey to help understand your audiences and visitors, then we suggest you aim for a minimum of 380 responses.


It’s the minimum number needed to give a 95% confidence level in your results – and therefore means you can assume that you now have a representative, accurate picture of your audiences.

Of course, if you can get more than 380, this will only help improve the accuracy of that picture even more.

If 380 responses sounds like an impossible mountain to climb, it might be worth considering:

  • Would an alternative (or additional) collection methodology help reach more people? We have lots of options available

  • Could you offer an incentive?

  • Are the reasons for data collection being communicated clearly? You may find that people are more willing to complete a survey if they understand how this information will support your work

For more guidance around surveys, have a look at our Knowledge Base articles


So, a few things here…

as a rural touring scheme, with no central box office, and our volunteer promoters are still reluctant to pass around sheets of paper, we will struggle to get to our 380.

There are several issues.

We are a small organisation - no marketing department, just a few part timers trying to organise events in a rural area. Face to face collection is too resource heavy.

Actually our audiences (and promoters) are sick the the back teeth of the questionnaires that they have been filling in FOR YEARS! The questions for many are too personal and there is no quite a lot of anger and frustration from people and where we can digitally send them one they are not filling them in.

For how many years more will we be asking mostly the same audiences to fill these in, and where we have found new audiences, how long will they have to do so?

when will we find a different way of doing things, and one that doesnt take a lot of resources for a small organisation.



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Hi @iankerry

Just before responding to your thoughtful comments may I just say thanks very much for your post in the Community, and for sharing your perspective. I would advise that we’ve arrived at the figure of 380 responses over a calendar year of collection just for the reasons which Megan has outlined above; it represents a collection target which will yield statistically robust and representative data.

We really do completely understand, however that this figure can doesn’t take anything about your organisation into account and can absolutely be a tall order when you’re facing real barriers to collection. For us it is very much a soft target, in that you can still generate reports and access the different features of the dashboard to analyse any data that you have collected, however many responses you have - we simply try to be upfront about the margins of error which come with a smaller sample size.

We also understand the survey fatigue that you mention which comes from repeat surveying of the same people, and one of the advantages of selecting a Post-visit E-survey is that you’re able to control exactly who it gets sent to, by checking from a list of email addresses which ones might have been contacted in the past, if you’re keen to avoid double-messaging. As Megan mentions, it’s also possible to add an incentive such as a prize draw to the end of your survey, to bolster your response rates, and my colleagues in the Research Team would be happy to discuss this with you!

Your point about the discomfort that audiences and fieldworkers both might feel with paper surveys is a really sensible one. To address this, we’ve developed an entirely contactless collection methodology in the form of an Onsite E-survey, where audiences can use their smartphones and a QR code to gather responses while maintaining social distancing. More information about recommended safe data collection can be found here.

As I say, 380 for us is a purely statistical goal for organisations to strive for, and any issues with collection targets which might have been put in place by a funder such as Arts Council of England would in the first instance best be expressed directly to a contact there, such as your Relationship Manager, who would be in a much better position to comment.

I also do take your point about finding ways of collecting insight which are less resource-intensive for smaller organisations, and at The Audience Agency we really are always in a process of attempting to expand and refine our offer, to deliver a service which is useful to as many organisations across the sector as possible. I would be more than happy to continue this conversation with you on the phone, or alternatively via message/email, to discuss ways we can refine our offer and better support you through data collection.

Thanks again for your comments and look forward to hopefully speaking more!

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Thanks Nathan, for your detailed response.

In a normal times the 380 is achievable, so it is not that, that I am querying. I am sure you and ACE will be understanding when we don’t meet our target.

My thoughts are really about the future. Some of the things mentioned in the first comment by Megan may work with some age groups and in more urban environments, but QR codes just don’t seem to work, and getting peoples email addresses is hard with no box office. And as i mentioned face to face is way to resource heavy.

You may well not agree, and probably the Arts Council won’t either, but I know I am not alone in the Rural Touring Scheme world in thinking that the way the scheme currently runs just doesn’t work.

Changes would need to include:

Less intrusive questions - people really are angry sometimes about the very personal questions.

Do a survey once every 3 years, audiences would be more likely to engage with it, esp if we can them the results of surveys - a bit like a census.

Reduce number of questions

Remember, that there are very big organisations out there that you deal with, and there are very small ones. The level of support needed may need to vary accordingly.

thanks for listening,



Hi Ian

Thanks for your response. From The Audience Agency’s perspective we completely understand that 380 might be an unreachable target for your organisation, but I would always advise any National Portfolio Organisation to get in touch with their Relationship Manager with any issues around meeting any collection target set for them, as the funding requirements are stipulated by Arts Council, rather than us.

I also think that your feedback and suggestions about potential changes to the survey process clearly come from a place of fair reflection, and I would encourage also perhaps feeding these back as part of the same conversation with Arts Council. As I’m sure you’re aware, this NPO cycle is ending, with organisations being encouraged to look ahead to the next round of funding, and I’m sure that ACE will be happy to hear your thoughts on devising more suitable funding requirements for organisations such as your own.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Thanks Nathan,

I will certainly be feeding back to ACE. I think it would be useful if the audience Agency do so too - you guys are the experts and may be listened to more!