FAQs

General 

 

  1. What is CivicPulse? 

    CivicPulse is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering local governments through shared insights. Our work involves generating knowledge of and for local governments through national surveys of local officials. You can learn more about us here
     

  2. How can I stay up to date with CivicPulse’s work? 

    You can sign up to receive our newsletter
     

  3. Can I get involved with CivicPulse through volunteer work, internships, or a paid position? 

    There are several ways to get involved with CivicPulse. We are always looking for a broad range of skills and interests that support our work. If you are interested in open positions, internships, or volunteer work, please inquire by sending us an email. If you are a local government official and want to take part in our work, you can join our survey panel
     

  4. Can I donate to CivicPulse? 

    Yes! We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit and donations are tax-deductible. You can donate here
     

  5. What is CivicPulse’s political stance? 

    CivicPulse is an independent, nonpartisan organization, and as such, we do not have a political stance. 
     

  6. How do I access past CivicPulse data?   

    Our data is available on our website. Please note that sometimes data is contractually under embargo for up to eighteen months before it is made available. 
     

Survey Participants  

  1. How was I selected to be part of this survey?  

    Each year we collect the publicly available contact information for government officials in the United States, at the local and state levels. For each survey, we select the relevant group of officials (i.e., policymakers, heads of finance, clerks) and invite them to participate. If you received one of our surveys, it means you were randomly selected from our list of government officials based on the survey topic. We value your input and hope you’ll consider being part of the effort to provide more data-driven insights to local government.
     

  2. I’m having technical difficulties with completing the survey. What should I do? 

    Please contact us, and we will ensure you receive help.
     

  3. I received an email for someone who no longer works here. Can I take the survey instead? 

    Our surveys are by personal invitation only, unless otherwise stated. You are most welcome to participate in future surveys by joining our survey panel
     

  4. I’m just one of many in my local government and my views might not be representative of the area, should I still answer the survey?  

    Yes. We are interested in your perspective as a local official and understand that each individual has different views. Our public reports and data releases will not connect your responses to your specific locality or local government without your consent.
     

  5. I am a local government official and have not received an invitation to participate. Can I take CivicPulse surveys in the future?  

    Yes. CivicPulse is constantly working to ensure our survey panel represents a wide range of local officials across the country, and we welcome your participation. Please sign up to join our survey panel.
     

  6. How long are the surveys?

    While each survey varies, the average survey time is around 8 minutes.
     

  7. Can I take the survey over the phone or submit a paper copy? 

    No. Our surveys are available online only. If you experience technical difficulties, please contact us.
     

  8. How will my answers be used? 

    Your responses will be de-identified and then used to discover useful patterns and trends relevant to local governments. These insights are shared through reports, scholarly articles, social media, and other means, while also being made available to local governments. To see how past surveys were used, please visit our research page.
     

  9. Will my responses remain confidential?

    Yes. We treat the security of your personal information with the utmost care. No data is released until all personally identifying information is removed.
     

  10. Can I see the results of the survey?

    Yes. One of our goals is to produce data that can be used by government officials to learn from each other. After each survey we send all participants, who request it, a link to the summary report of the findings. These reports are also available on our website. You can stay up to date with our work and survey results by signing up for our newsletter
     

  11. How do you choose your content? Why are you asking about these topics?

    Our surveys focus on content that can inform local officials and their stakeholders. They include topics of local government and national issues where the local perspective matters. The content is developed both internally by CivicPulse and externally by other researchers.
     

  12. Are the surveys designed to support a particular political view?

    No. CivicPulse is an independent, nonpartisan organization and our research is presented as such.
     

  13. Why am I being asked demographic questions?

    We use demographic data to ensure that a broad range of views are represented in our surveys and to create survey weights so that our findings are representative of the nation more broadly. However, we do not require an answer to these questions and you are welcome to skip them.

Applying for Content

  1. How do I propose content for a future survey?  
     
    We offer two options for applying for content. You can apply through our Custom Surveys or Calls for Proposals. Learn more about these two options below or at Apply for Content.  
     

  2. When is the next deadline to submit a proposal?  
     
    There is no deadline if you submit a proposal through the Custom Surveys process.

    The current deadline for Calls for Proposals can be found here.    
     

  3. Who is included in your respondent pool? How representative is it?  

    CivicPulse maintains a dynamically updated contact list of twelve local government positions associated with all townships, municipalities, and counties in the United States, with populations of 1,000 or more (98% coverage). Each survey includes a random sample of officials from this list. Invitations to participate in a survey are sent via email and implemented through Qualtrics.

    Our first-time invitees respond at a rate of 7-8%; of these, over 80% of respondents agree to participate again in future surveys. Our surveys routinely include representation of local officials from nearly all 50 states and across urban and rural communities. Consistent with nationally representative mass public surveys, our surveys modestly overrepresent more urban and populated localities than the national average. To address this, we provide survey weights based on conventional raking procedures.  
       

  4. Will I receive the identities of the survey respondents?  

    No. A key component of our survey platform is that public officials can trust that their identities will remain confidential. We de-identify all survey responses before making them publicly available. 
     

  5. Will it be possible to match the survey responses with external data sources? 

    Researchers who would like to combine our survey data with external data have two options. First, we provide a service of matching survey responses with other locality-level data provided by the researcher. Second, researchers may choose to work, in collaboration with CivicPulse, with a dataset that includes locality information under our data security and privacy guidelines.

    For both options, the external data will eventually be coarsened to protect respondent identity (e.g., population will be binned into quintiles), and CivicPulse will charge a small fee for labor. Applicants interested in working with external data should specify so in their proposal.
     

  6. Why do you limit the number and length of the surveys you field?

    Our hope is that CivicPulse can create a sustainable resource for the collection of information and data about local government on an ongoing basis. This means treating policymaker survey time like the common-pool, scarce resource that it is. In deciding how many surveys to run, we take the long view to maintain the viability of this resource for years to come.  
     

  7. Why don’t you offer 1,000 respondents per survey like other survey companies?  

    Due to the limited number of local government officials, reaching 1,000 respondents is much more challenging than surveying the general population. However, because of the breadth and quality of our sampling, our data have been used for a wide variety of publications for both policy and academic audiences. Researchers have successfully published papers in top journals across a variety of disciplines (e.g., law, sociology, political science) using our data. You can view a sample of these research publications here.
     

  8. Does CivicPulse provide Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for its surveys? 

    No.  University researchers are encouraged to get approval through their institution. You may find this sample participant recruitment email useful for your IRB application. Please contact us if you need additional help. 
     

  9. Can I survey a particular sub population of your national panel? 

    Yes. You can survey a sub population if you submit a proposal through the Custom Surveys process. The Calls for Proposals only survey national samples.  
     

  10. Does CivicPulse survey outside of the United States? 

    No, not at this time. 
     

  11. Do I need to secure funding before applying? 

    No, we do not require proof of funding to apply. Once your application is accepted, we will request payment prior to fielding your questions.
     

Custom Surveys 
 
  1. What are Custom Surveys? 
     
    Custom Surveys allow for standalone surveys to any one of our twelve local government positions, on a rolling basis. Surveys can be up to ten minutes long, and depending on the position, may also target subnational samples. Learn more about our Custom Surveys here
     

  2. What are the twelve local government positions? 
     

    • Head Building Official

    • Head of Communications  

    • Head of Human Resources  

    • Head of Finance  

    • Head of Clerk’s Office 

    • Head of Purchasing/Procurement 

    • Head of Fire Protection Services 

    • Head of Public Works  

    • Head of Law Enforcement 

    • Top Appointed Officials 

    • Governing Board Members 

    • Top Elected Officials 

  3. Is there a limit to how many applications I can submit each year? 
     
    No. 
     

  4. How much does a Custom Survey cost?  
     
    Pricing depends on the local government position, sample size, and length of survey. You can find more information here.


Calls for Proposals 

  1. What are Calls for Proposals?  

    Calls for Proposals invites applications twice a year to include questions in a multi-collaborator survey to governing board members, top elected officials, and a rotating set of our twelve local government positions. Learn more about our Calls for Proposals (including information about the upcoming Call) here
     

  2. How much does it cost for a survey submitted through the Calls for Proposals? 
     
    Pricing depends on the local government position, sample size, and length of survey. You can find more information here
     

  3. Is there a limit to the number of proposals I can submit for each Call? 

    No. 
     

  4. If I’ve submitted a proposal in the past, can I submit again in a future Call? 
     
    Yes. 

 
 
 
  1. Who is included in your respondent pool? How representative is it?  

    CivicPulse maintains a dynamically updated contact list of elected executives and legislators associated with all townships, municipalities, and counties in the United States, with populations of 1,000 or more (98% coverage). Each survey includes a random sample of officials from this list. Invitations to participate in a survey are sent via email and implemented through Qualtrics. Our first-time invitees respond at a rate of 7-8%; of these, over 80% of respondents agree to participate again in future surveys. Our surveys routinely include representation of policymakers from nearly all 50 states and both major political parties. Consistent with nationally representative mass public surveys, our surveys modestly overrepresent more urban and populated localities than the national average. To address this, we provide survey weights based on conventional raking procedures.  
     

  2. How do I propose content for a future survey?  

    We offer two options for applying for content. You can apply through our Rolling Applications process or Calls for Proposals. Please see below for further information on these two options.  
     

  3. When is the next deadline to submit a proposal?  

    There is no deadline if you submit a proposal through the Rolling Applications process. The current deadline for Call for Proposals can be found here.    
     

  4. Why do you limit the number and length of the surveys you field?

    Our hope is that CivicPulse can create a sustainable resource for the collection of information and data about local government on an ongoing basis. This means treating policymaker survey time like the common-pool, scarce resource that it is. In deciding how many surveys to run, we take the long view to maintain the viability of this resource for years to come.
     

  5. Will I receive the identities of the survey respondents?  

    No. A key component of our survey platform is that public officials can trust that their identities will remain confidential. We de-identify all survey responses before making them publicly available. However, by matching public officials to Census information about the geographic areas they represent, we do provide the ability to draw inferences about subsamples of elected officials (i.e., officials representing rural vs. urban areas).
     

  6. Why don’t you offer 1,000 respondents per survey like other survey companies?  

    Due to the limited number of local government officials, reaching 1,000 respondents is much more challenging than surveying the general population.  
     

  7. How do I access past CivicPulse data?   

    Our data is available on our website. Please note that sometimes data is contractually under embargo for up to eighteen months before it is made available.  
     

  8. Does CivicPulse provide Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for its surveys? 

    No.  University researchers are encouraged to get approval through their institution. Please contact us if you need additional help. 
     

  9. Can I survey a particular sub population of your national panel? 

    Yes. You can survey a sub population if you submit a proposal through the Rolling Applications process. The Calls for Proposals only survey national samples.  
     

  10. Does CivicPulse survey outside of the United States? 

    No, not at this time. 
     

  11. Do I need to secure funding before applying? 

    No, we do not require proof of funding to apply. Once your application is accepted, we will request payment prior to fielding your questions. 

 

Rolling Applications 
 
  1. Is there a limit to how many applications I can submit each year? 

    No.  
     

  2. How much does it cost for a survey submitted through the Rolling Applications process?
     

    Pricing information will be available soon, please check back.  

 

Calls for Proposals 

 

  1. How many Calls for Proposals do you issue each year? 

    We currently announce two calls a year to survey policymakers and a rotating selection of top civil servant positions. 
     

  2. How much does it cost for a survey submitted through the Calls for Proposals process?

    The price varies so please visit Calls for Proposals for more information.