The Who, What, Whys of Member Surveys.

Member Surveys — What You Need to Know

It always happens like clockwork. In the last two quarters of every fiscal year, we conduct a lot of market research. Recently, we’ve only seen this trend magnified. And that got us thinking.

You’ve probably made a number of changes in the past few weeks, months and years—maybe you’ve transitioned to a remote staff, virtual events and webinars and more. But do you know how these changes have affected your members?

Member surveys are a great way to take the pulse of your membership. If it’s been awhile since your last survey, or if you’ve experienced any substantial changes recently, here are some key questions to consider:

• Have you conducted a Member Satisfaction Survey in the past year?

• Have you offered a Needs Assessment in light of changing economic circumstances?

• Do you know your members’ and customers’ most pressing needs?

• Do you know what they think of your emergency response (COVID-19, natural disasters, etc.)?

• Do they think your customer service has successfully adapted to meet their needs?

• Do you know whether they’re likely to renew their membership or purchase other services?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to consider running a member survey.

Member Surveys Drive Actionable Insights

A member survey is an invaluable tool. It can shed light on a number of topics critical to the health of your organization. Especially during changing or uncertain times, member surveys can give you vital insight about your members’ wants, needs, desires and engagement level. And once you’re armed with this information, you can make more strategic changes to your offerings and services.

If you’ve never run a comprehensive survey before, you probably have a lot of questions. That’s where we can help. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions our clients ask us about member surveys:

1. What type of survey questions should I ask?

Two of the best questions center on the association’s value proposition—both today and future focused. These questions include: 1) how much do members value your organization’s meetings, programs and resources and 2) how often do they use them. Collecting and analyzing member value (perception) and usage data (behavior) can give you critical new perspectives. Once analyzed, you can synthesize the data into to actionable insights and plan next year’s agenda.

2. Who should run a Member Satisfaction Survey or Member Needs Assessment?

According to ASAE, a professional association or trade group should hire a third party market research firm to conduct these types of surveys. A third party consultant has no inherent bias or “turf protection” for a particular department, program or service. They can remain objective in developing the questionnaire, reporting its findings as well as advising on next step implications. You should look for a partner with research experience and a passion for your mission.

3. Where should I deploy the survey?

In a word, everywhere. To start—use email, your website and social media, but also add it to your journal or magazine. Members usually need 4-5 touches to act. You should also use an online survey tool, like Survey Monkey, that can provide robust features to simplify outreach and analysis.

4. When is the best time to run a survey?

The typical time to conduct surveys is during the third or fourth quarter, but you should consider running a survey whenever your organization has experienced substantial internal or external changes. Survey data and insights help association staff:

– Assess program viability including modifications.

– Plan operations and staff priorities.

– Get ahead of budget planning.

If changes are coming to the organization (e.g. member preferences, market dynamics, program availability, retention or non-dues revenue concerns)—taking the pulse of members can also help you plan for the future.

5. Why should I conduct a Member Satisfaction Survey or Member Needs Assessment?

Relevance and viability are key factors that determine member satisfaction. You can make data-informed decisions when you have answers to questions such as:

– Are your meetings, programs and resources adapting to new engagement models?

– Are you using communications and technology effectively?

– Are you helping members with workforce development and staffing issues?

– Are you creating a welcoming, inclusive and equitable environment?

– Are you showing you care?

You can use these answers to build a “report card”. Then at renewal time, you can make a powerful case and remind members what you’ve delivered to them.

Get the 411 on Your Members

Now is a great time to survey members and get a current outlook to guide your planning and implementation strategy. Ensure your association is relevant and viable for the future.

If your organization wants to know what its members or constituents think, create a survey and let the data do the talking.



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Does your marketing plan rely on customer surveys to identify relevant programs, services and communication channels?

From blind industry surveys to customer satisfaction surveys, we can develop turnkey surveys delivering qualitative and quantitative insights to increase program engagement and loyalty.

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