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Online Survey - keep your members happy

When discussing Association Marketing, another topic for the autumn period is the planning of a member survey. Now is a good time to plan the member survey for the first quarter of next year. A survey is the great opportunity to receive feedback on your work and how to improve, to learn where your members would set priorities, to check how familiar your members are with certain topics or to invite comments for any and all wishes they have. Often you meet in your daily work only the group of very engaged or key representatives, the survey offers the chance to reach out to all member contacts.

How to start?

1. Define who you want to reach out to. Associations might have different types of member or different member categories. Do you want to reach out to all members or only to a certain part of your membership? Members might have a key representative in the association but more representatives in working groups or listed as contacts receiving newsletters. Do you want to receive one feedback per member and assume that the key representative will align internally and respond as the one voice? Or do you want to receive various opinions from each member and therefore reach out to all member contacts you have filed?

2. Think about who should do the survey. You can outsource the survey to a market research company that ensures anonymity, or you can do it internally by a simple online tool like “google forms” and inform your member that no emails will be collected. It is really important that you encourage members to give an open and frank feedback. For an overview of online survey tools check

3. What is a good starting question for your survey? You can ask how satisfied members are with your work. This is a general question to warm-up to the survey. Starting with such a question also offers the chance of asking a similar question at the end of the survey to check if the opinion has changed after reflecting on a whole range of other questions.

4. What topics can be included in a survey? For deciding on topics to include, you might want to divide the discussion between general topics, looking back and looking forward.

5. General topics: here I can imagine a question about the satisfaction of the members with the work done. The general part can also include questions on satisfaction about internal and external communication activities and go into details like communication channels.

6. Looking back: You might want to check on the success of major work done this year, an event, a position paper, a project presentation, a new purpose statement, an advocacy campaign…..

7. Looking forward: you could invite to evaluate priorities planned for your working groups or gain input for the next strategic roadmap you plan. And you could open up the discussion and ask for any and all wishes that your members have.

8. Closed questions or open questions? I recommend a good mix. Closed questions are of course easy for showing results in graphics but open questions really allow insights to personal opinions. The challenge is to compile and present all results from open questions.

9. What to do with the results from a member survey? Make sure you plan sufficient time to discuss and digest the results and to define an action list. And regularly monitor the progress that you are making on these actions.

Your team and your members are the most valuable assets of the association. Use the member survey to receive feedback how to keep your members happy!

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