Role of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Providing Relief and Recovery Services After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Data Collection Procedures


In November 2007, the Louisiana State University Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL) began the telephone survey of churches and nonprofit organizations throughout Gulf Coast areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The survey was completed in February 2008. Data collection was suspended for about 10 days (total) during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

To maximize the response rate, the sample was released in waves. Overall, the three sample releases combined consisted of 615 organizations, which yielded a total of 574 organizations for which contact information could be found. Every effort was made to research each disconnected number on the Internet to locate that particular church or nonprofit. A group of interviewers was hand-selected and dedicated specifically to this project from beginning to end. A team leader was designated to coordinate the survey in the field.

Each week, the team leader emailed a research report of disconnected numbers to the PPRL lab manager. No telephone number was labeled permanently disconnected until a thorough search was done to locate that entity. The lab manager sent the Urban Institute survey team a progress report at the beginning of each week. Each Wednesday, the lab manager and the Urban Institute survey team held a conference call to discuss that weeks progress report and any other issues.

In general, it was fairly difficult to reach people on the first try. Most often, an interviewer would reach an answering machine. This was especially true when trying to reach churches, although if the call was answered by a secretary, the interviewer would inquire about the best time to try to reach the pastor. In general, it was noted that a good time to interview individuals at churches was Monday through Friday between 11:00am and 3:00pm. However, interviewers found no consistent pattern regarding the optimal days or times to reach potential respondents.

Nonprofits were easier to contact than churches and more likely to respond to the survey. The interviewer most often spoke with the pastor of a church or the director of a nonprofit organization. Once the interviewer was able to reach a person knowledgeable about the organizations relief and recovery activities, reception toward participating in the 1520-minute survey was mostly positive.

A total of 271 organizations responded to the survey. Of these 271 organizations, 202 provided relief services and therefore were interviewed for this study.[20] The distribution of completed interviews by our seven geographic strata is shown in Table A2.

Table A2.
Final Sample Size of Organizations
That Provided Relief Services, by Geographic Strata
Location Churches
Primary impact Mississippi 22 16
Primary impact Louisiana 19 20
Secondary impact Mississippi 13 13
Secondary impact Louisiana 25 22
Tertiary Mississippi 12 7
Tertiary Louisiana 8 11
Tertiary Texas 7 7
TOTAL 106 96

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