In the Internet age, marketers have become used to conducting online surveys that pay respondents for their opinions. But would the consumers who answer these surveys actually purchase the products or services they’re asked about – or are they just answering questions to get paid?

San Francisco-based startup Centiment believes it’s found a way to help marketers ensure that survey respondents are part of their target audience and not in it for the money – by promising respondents that for every questionnaire they fill out, a charity of their choice will receive a donation.

The company is offering its apps to schools and non-profits as an alternative to typical fundraising tactics such as magazine and chocolate sales: For every online survey completed by a parent or donor, their child’s school, or fundraising non-profit, benefits.

And as noted by Statistics Canada, the Canadians who donate the most to charity are also more likely to have a university degree, a job, and a household income of $120,000 or more.

“Our real differentiator is the quality of the audience we are enabling market researchers to poll,” Centiment founder Kurt Wassmer tells ITBusiness.ca, noting that his company is aiming its platform at startups, the consumer goods, technologies firms, consultants, product managers, and “anyone else looking for high-quality consumer insights.”

For marketers, the company’s primary selling point over competitors such as Google Inc.’s Surveys platform or SurveyMonkey, is the quality of its respondents, who not only tend to be more affluent, but pay more attention to survey questions and provide more accurate information too, Wissmer says.

“Google Surveys collects most of their information through survey walls which act as pop-ups when you try to access some form of premium content online such as a news article,” Wassmer explains. “To proceed, you must answer one or two questions. We’ve all seen these and they entice a lot of ‘swat away’ responses.”

SurveyMonkey actually recruits its own respondents, but has a difficult time retaining them because its primary business is survey software, Wassmer says; most of its surveys are instead conducted by panel firms that encourage respondents to share their opinions for low pay cash payouts or coupons, with token disqualification algorithms that encourage respondents to falsely report information so they can qualify for surveys and earn a reward.

By contrast, Centiment proactively collects profile information on its respondents, who are then assured their answers will be anonymous in addition to supporting a cause important to them. Each survey pays the associated charity between 25 cents and $5 USD, according to Centiment.

“The big idea is that we are accessing a demographic of people that are unavailable to other survey panels,” Wassmer says. “Our incentive model is to help a school or other non-profit the respondent has a personal reslationship with, such as their child’s – that’s how we get them to participate.”

Test-runs of the company’s platform have already raised at least $1000 USD each for their associated schools.

Such as North Carolina’s Jackson County Early College.
(courtesy Centiment)

With the Centiment platform officially launching today, the company wants to offer its early adopters a present: While the average client will be charged $1 USD per respondent, Centiment is willing to give companies who submit survey data on Jan. 18 using the promotional code LAUNCH a 40 per cent discount, which will gradually be reduced over the remainder of the month. Using the discount will not affect the amount of money earned by participating non-profits and schools.

Those who work in the non-profit industry, meanwhile, that want their organization added to Centiment’s database are encouraged to contact the company with a request.

For more information, visit Centiment’s website, or check out the video below.

Full disclosure: Centiment offered ITBusiness.ca parent company ITWC a complimentary survey of 300 respondents, which we accepted.

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