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Increased membership retention doesn’t just happen on its own. Various initiatives have to be implemented.
One initiative that we highly recommend: surveying your association’s membership. Regardless of how long your association has been around - or what your retention rate currently is - there’s always room for improvement.
Now one of the responses we commonly hear when pitching membership surveys is, “Our members just don’t respond to those! Is the effort really worth it?”
YES! The key, though, is conducting a variety of surveys - short, long, open-ended, close-ended, etc. - throughout the year to garner maximum interest.
In fact, here are three types of surveys we recommend sending your members to boost membership retention:
1. A short, preference survey
Think about how many times your members are (mostly) in one place: at meetings, events, luncheons, etc. Make the most of that time by asking your members to fill out a short, preference survey. You can even leave these on the tables your members are sitting at, so they can fill them out at their convenience during the event. (Note: The keyword here is short, so try to keep your survey to five questions or less.)
A few questions you may want to consider including in your survey are…
- How many events did you attend in the past 12 months?
- 0 - 2
- 3 - 5
- 6 - 10
- 11 - 15
- 16 - 20
- When you don’t attend events, what are the reasons why? (Mark all that apply.)
- Inconvenient place
- Inconvenient time
- I forget
- Something comes up at work
- Something conflicts at home
- Not interested in the topic
- Other reason:
- As a member, are your expectations being met?
- What can we do to better meet your needs? (e.g. topics, timeframes, etc.)
- *Best to leave this one open-ended
- During which times, Monday through Friday, are you most able to attend meetings?
- Early mornings (6 - 8 a.m.)
- Mid mornings (9 - 11 a.m.)
- Lunch (12 - 2 p.m.)
- Late afternoon (3 - 5 p.m.)
- Early evening (6 -8 p.m.)
2. A 10-minute survey
If you have your members for a little bit more time, you may want to consider extending that short, preference survey to a 10-minute survey. While this type of survey still won’t be exhaustive, it will allow you to dig a little bit deeper into your members’ wants and interests (without taking a significant amount of time).
In addition to the questions above, you may want to ask questions, such as…
- Rate our benefits on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being least valuable and 5 being most valuable.
- Networking with other members
- Continuing education
- Annual conference
- Legal advocacy
- Small business resources
- Guest speakers
- What offerings (that we don’t currently have) would you like to see from our association in the next couple of years?
- *Best to leave this one open-ended
3. A detailed annual survey
Now this is where your members will need to spend some time. But tip: If you tell your members why capturing this type of information is important (what they’ll ultimately get out of it), the chances of them filling it out are much better. (Plus, if you only send this type of survey once a year, it’s MUCH easier to garner interest and participation.)
Below is an example of an intro you may want to include with your detailed annual survey (to set the tone and establish its importance):
Thank you for your membership!
As a member, you play an important part in our planning process. We are preparing for an upcoming planning session, and we want to hear from you! Your valuable input will be used as we plan upcoming initiatives. Please take the time to respond to this important survey. Members who take the survey will automatically be entered to win a $100 gift card (you must include your contact information to qualify for the drawing). Survey results will be shared with you, but your specific details, comments, and individual responses will remain confidential.
John Smith, Executive Director
As far as the types of questions to include in your detailed, annual survey, that’s entirely up to you. Just think of the type of information you need to better serve your members. (Every association is different.) And as you can probably guess, incentives always help!
Like we said, these surveys all boil down to one thing: retention. It’s about obtaining feedback to boost member value and satisfaction. Want more tips for boosting membership retention at your association? Check out our free Membership Retention Kit.