Associations and member surveys go together like peas and carrots. Here are some highlights from our archives that can get you thinking more strategically about them.
The member survey is one of the most important tools associations have to understand the interests and needs of their members. The right survey can lead to some significant organizational changes—but asking the right questions, and uncovering the right answers, takes some strategy.
So how can you make the most of those surveys? These pieces from the ASAE and Associations Now archives might help:
Rules of Engagement: Build Better Surveys. This list of survey tips, built with the help of Eric Larson of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, offers a basic formula that could boost response rates. One tip: Keep it simple. “With surveys, you’re aiming to open up a conversation with the member,” Larson said.
Four Language Pitfalls Associations Should Avoid in Member Surveys. Cynthia Simpson, CAE, former manager of member services at the National Society for Histotechnology, breaks down issues that can emerge in your survey questions, including implications, gender bias, and oversold expectations. “If you aren’t able to implement the answer, then really think hard about asking the question,” she said.
Membership Memo: Survey Surprise. Sometimes your surveys tell you a lot more than you might have expected—something the American Chiropractic Association learned a few years back when, after a member survey, the association discovered that many members didn’t fully understand the benefits the association offered. “Sometimes when you do a survey, you get responses that you never intended,” said Anne Marie Munson, ACA’s senior vice president of operations. “And for us, the question that was really answered was that people don’t really know what their benefits are.”
Member Surveys and Beyond: What to Do With All That Data. In this 2016 piece, Joyce O’Brien, now vice president of membership and industry partnerships for the American Society of Interior Designers, highlighted the way associations can harness data produced by their surveys. “Too often the magnitude of data can overwhelm even the most seasoned membership professional,” she wrote. “How can this critical tool be used in understanding, engaging and growing your membership?”
Survey Says: Member Research Needs to Come Before Reaction. Mary Baehr, principal consultant of Trailblazer Market Research, makes the case that member research needs to drive how associations respond to issues that emerge. “By taking the time to research, you’ll have a better understanding of an issue’s scope (What percentage of the membership this actually affects?) and depth (How important it is to your membership base as a whole?),” she wrote.