Members are at the core of any association. Without members the association would likely fail as there would be no one for the association to serve, no one to attend events, partake in volunteering or uphold the association name. That’s why knowing your members needs and wants is crucial. A low cost, yet effective, tool to determine what your members think and feel is surveys, and they can offer a wealth of information – but only if you ask the right questions!
By developing a survey such as a member needs assessment survey, the goal is to learn more about what your membership sees of value in their membership, and to learn what they are satisfied and unsatisfied with so that the association can determine their short and long-term goals. Knowing what questions to ask, and how to ask them, is crucial to a successful survey that results in actionable results. Below are 5 themes or sections that should be included in your membership survey to ensure you receive the greatest amount of valuable information:
Demographics and General Information
Of course, you may have most of this information in your membership database software but asking demographic questions will give you a base for who has filled out your survey. These questions can include: age, gender, region, education level, membership type in your association, income level, position in their company, etc. These responses will be crucial as once the survey data is collected, it can then be divided into various data groups based on demographic information gathered. This will be helpful to determine how different types of members feel about your association and you will be better able to cater to different types of needs and wants of your members. Other questions to include here could be: how long have they been in the industry, what are their professional goals, what are the goals of their company, what do they need to grow professionally and make an impact.
Next, it’s important to learn what your members think about your current benefits and offerings. With these questions, you will be able to hold yourself accountable for all aspects of your association. This will determine if the association has delivered on its advertised benefits and what it could be doing more, or less, of. Sample questions could include:
- Which programs and benefits have you used during the year?
- How often do you use X? (with X being a specific benefit you want to learn more about)
- What would motivate you to use X more?
- What benefits should we take away?
With this data, you can then compare the association’s investment in a specific benefit or program and the members perceived value and satisfaction so that the association’s resources can be better allocated for future years.
Ensure to always ask about your events. An association’s events are often times its bread and butter so you need to guarantee that your events are worth attending year after year. Pose questions such as:
- What is the most valuable event to you?
- What venue was your favourite?
- What was the best aspect of this year’s conference? The worst?
- How could X event be improved?
- What is the main reason you attend X event?
Events are a valuable revenue stream for most associations, therefore learning how to better plan and execute these events is valuable to better cater each event to its intended audience.
Lastly, don’t forget to seek advice as membership surveys are a great way to improve your current offerings for the future. Don’t be afraid to ask your membership for their recommendations about what they would like to see the association offer or what they would change and why. After all, no one knows the association better than its members! Sample questions to include in this section are:
- What benefits could we add?
- Gather thoughts about specific planned future offerings
- What topics/types of education would you like to be offered?
- How likely are you to renew your membership?
- Suggestions for improvement
Now that you are equipped with the right questions to include in your survey, it’s time to build it out. Surveys are a breeze to make with programs like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms, so what are you waiting for. Start building your survey today to begin building towards a stronger association! Looking for a little extra help with your membership survey? Contact email@example.com
Kaitlyn McGuirk, MA
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