1. Support Center
  2. Administering Surveys

Offering Incentives for Survey Completion

Providing incentives may be useful in garnering more survey responses from young people, but you should weigh the pros and cons of doing so.

Giving young people incentives may be beneficial if you plan on administering surveys by providing paper copies to take home or survey links for them to take on their own devices. Incentives can range from a small gif certificate, to food, or a t-shirt. However, you should weigh the pros and cons before deciding to offer them.


• Increases the likelihood of participation
• Demonstrates to young people that you value their voices


• Even if not very costly, may stretch program budgets
• Could bias young people to provide more favorable survey responses


Different Types of Survey Incentives

Incentives typically come in two main forms—monetary and non-monetary. Monetary incentives are things that you can assign a dollar value to such as cash, checks, money orders, gift cards, and coupons. Non-monetary incentives are typically thank you gifts like a free pen or notebook, but can also be program related like a pizza party or extra play time.

Timing of incentives: promised versus prepaid

Once you’ve determined what kind of incentive to provide, you’ll have to decide whether you want to provide it to your target population before they even complete the survey (prepaid) or only provide it to your respondents after they’ve completed the survey (promised).

Decades of research on survey incentives have shown that prepaid incentives are the most effective in increasing response rates, but this method is generally difficult to execute for online surveys and tends to be more costly since you provide the incentive to everyone, regardless of whether or not they respond. Promised incentives are much easier to execute, since you can email someone a gift certificate afterwards or mail them a small thank you gift.