How to Reward Survey Participation While Keeping Responses Anonymous

  • author

    Brenda Stoltz

  • posted

    Dec 05, 2019

  • topic

    Academic Research, Market Research

How to Reward Survey Participation While Keeping Responses Anonymous

As a researcher, you know that getting the quantity of responses needed for actionable insights is just half the battle. You also need participants to be completely honest in their responses. To improve response rates researchers are increasingly rewarding participants. But when surveys require respondent anonymity, you need a way to reward respondents while keeping their identity anonymous.

Why Survey Response Anonymity Matters

Participants want assurance that their identity will be protected especially when completing surveys that require personal or sensitive information. Let’s assume your next survey requires frank disclosure on the respondents’ past and present medical conditions. Sending a survey that doesn’t ensure respondent anonymity will almost certainly result in dismal response rates and less than honest responses.

Similarly, research on cultural taboo subjects or ones that may put the respondent at risk if their identity was to become known, such as employee satisfaction or illegal behavior surveys need to be anonymous.

And finally, tasked with protecting the welfare, rights and privacy of survey respondents, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) are obligated to maximize the safety of participants. If your research needs to IRB approval, survey response anonymity is typically required.

Incentivizing Anonymous Surveys – the Dilemma

To get the breadth and depth of responses needed for actionable insights you often need to incentivize survey participants. The challenge is, when conducting surveys that require respondent anonymity, how can you reward participants if you don’t know who they are?

The tempting solution may be to ask survey participants for their email address within the survey itself. While this will give you email addresses for reward delivery, capturing email addresses in such a way compromises the respondents anonymity. Any method that directly ties a respondent’s personally identifiable information (PII) to their survey response must be avoided.

How to Incentivize Anonymous Surveys

The solution to this dilemma is to separate the collection of reward delivery information from the survey. Rybbon’s seamless integration with survey platforms allows you to easily send rewards to survey participants while keeping their responses anonymous.

Here is how it works. Once the survey is complete, the respondent is redirected to a separate Rybbon form. This form allows the survey respondent to provide the email address where they would like their reward to be delivered. Since the reward delivery email address is not embedded in the survey, the respondent’s survey response remains anonymous. This decoupling of survey responses from reward delivery preserves survey response anonymity, while allowing you to reward respondents and boost response rates. Here’s what the solution looks like.

Reward Survey Participation

Reward Approvals and Anonymous Surveys

What if you’re conducting an anonymous survey using the process described above and need to check the quality of responses before approving the respondent’s reward?

Rybbon offers capabilities to make this possible. First, you turn on the reward approval in Rybbon so that you can approve or reject rewards for specific respondents. Second, you pass a response identifier, like the response ID, when redirecting the respondent to the Rybbon form at the end of the survey. Finally, the response identifier is stored as a custom field in Rybbon.

Rejecting inadequate responses and corresponding rewards and rewarding the rest of the participants is accomplished in five easy steps:

  • Review responses in the survey tool.
  • Identify the ones that should be rejected. Note the response identifiers. Delete the inadequate responses.
  • Find the corresponding reward requests in Rybbon using the response identifiers.
  • Reject rewards for those responses.
  • Approve the rest.


Providing respondent anonymity and reward incentivization no longer needs to be viewed as opposing requirements. With Rybbon, you’re able to incentivize anonymous survey participants while ensuring the anonymity of their responses.

Take your research to the next level. Find out how to optimize surveys with our free optimization checklist.

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about the author
Brenda Stoltz

Brenda has over 20 years of experience building, selling and marketing products for F100 and start-ups.

Brenda has over 20 years of experience building, selling and marketing products for F100 and start-ups.