A board member recently said this in a Board of Directors meeting: “While I do believe we should conduct member surveys, it’s the involved members who answer, not the uninvolved ones. Consequently, I’m not a fan of surveys.”
Is this a valid reason to doubt member research?
Association Executives who research every year with the similar research questions give contrary feedback:
“We do the same purposeful research every year with essentially the same questions,” says Karen Gehle, CEO, KAR. “The year-over-year responses helps account for self-selection bias. Ideally we want to see if our satisfied responses move to very satisfied and if our unhappy members seem less unhappy! We are ready for whatever response we get because it offers us information to make positive change.”
In addition, when a survey offers the opportunity for a wide variety of feedback, members of varying satisfaction and involvement levels are part of the collection process.
Beyond constructing an objective survey (asking questions in an non-partisan way, and developing questions that allow you to do something with the answers), strategize in advance about how you promote your survey to reach a response rate that you can rely on.
Here are three simple ways to approach your survey:
- Alert your membership the survey is coming. Assure them you want to listen and do something with the results. A co-branded advance email from the association president can help to reach “their peers.”
- Tell members how long the survey will take them and encourage them to respond right away. Many busy professionals will take the survey if you set the right expectation and create a sense of urgency.
- Offer members something in return for their time. Let’s face it. We’re all very busy. Sometimes it takes a little incentive to persuade the member to stop and give you information. Effective incentives can range from a complimentary class or ticket to an event, to a drawing for something the member can use in their work or personal life outside of the office. Ideas include a gift card (gas, hardware store or coffee) an iPad, iWatch or other technology, and even a donation to their favorite charity. (You might ask an affiliate for a donation as sponsorship for the survey.)
Tell members you respect their time, show that you appreciate and will listen to the results. Keep the survey link front and center in key communications across platforms. It will help you reap the response rate you need.
If you don’t reach your response rate – in your time frame, get their attention through a fun, creative graphic to remind them to participate in the survey process.
Click here to learn more about statistical sampling and the desired response rates.
There’s a communications collective emerging from nSight Marketing’s work with associations across the country. Our first project is a research project to compare the best-in-class associations, their members’ perceptions, and the keys to their success.