The Importance of a Member Survey for Associations

By |Published On: October 23, 2023|
woman with brown sweater using laptop

Essential parts of running an association are being open to feedback and communicating with your members. After all, you want to make sure you can attract new members, retain existing ones and fulfill your organization’s mission and goals. In this blog, we’ll go over what a member survey is and what it aims to do. We’ll also cover what to ask in one and the best way (and time) to distribute one.

One way to collaborate, solicit feedback and find out whether you need to improve in any areas is by conducting a member survey. Nearly 90% of organizations that conduct this surveys report that gathering feedback is one of their top priorities in measuring member impact. 

[Related: Strategic Planning for Associations: If You Don’t Plan, You Will Fail]

What Is a Member Survey?

So, what exactly is it? It’s a series of questions (or even just one) that an association asks its members to gain feedback. 

For easy-to-measure feedback, many member surveys exist in multiple-choice or poll form. Regardless, they can — and should — also include a space for members to freely write comments, concerns, questions and other thoughts.

An association member survey can have a variety of goals, including the following:

  • Addressing specific issues
  • Finding ways to optimize daily operations
  • Encouraging long-term membership and/or renewals
  • Learning more about stakeholders 
  • Finding out how to appeal to members’ preferences 
  • Understanding how your organization is doing 
  • Building trust 
  • Creating a strong community connection

What To Ask in Your Association Member Survey

If you want to achieve one of the aforementioned goals or have this surveys help your association succeed, asking the right questions is critical. 

When putting together a survey, consider what you’re trying to achieve. This helps you decide what type of member survey you want to send.

Member Needs Assessment Survey

Overall, a member needs assessment survey (aka a member satisfaction survey) is just what it sounds like. It acts as a way to assess how satisfied your current members are with your association.

This type of feedback allows you to learn things like which benefits your members enjoy most, any membership pain points and what the association needs to do to retain them as members. You can also ask member satisfaction survey questions that give you valuable information such as: 

  • Communication preferences
  • Which events members are interested in
  • Committee and volunteer interest 
  • Demographic data points

This survey type can also serve as a member engagement survey. There, you learn how involved members are with your association and what you can do to increase interaction and engagement.

Post-Event Feedback

What can your association’s event organizers do to ensure success? Send a post-event member feedback survey. 

After an event, a member feedback survey is a great way to obtain helpful information from members, event sponsors and even volunteers. It lets you get a well-rounded view of how the experience went. This feedback can be invaluable in helping you improve future events.

Gray and Black Laptop Computer with Membership Survey Results

[Related: Membership Retention Basics: What Your Association Needs To Know]

How and When To Distribute an Association Member Survey

There are a few ways to distribute them, but the main method is web-based. In fact, over 70% of respondents prefer to answer a survey online rather than on the telephone, through the mail or in person. 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to solicit feedback is to include a survey at the end of your regularly scheduled newsletters or email blasts. These can be short surveys that focus on an aspect of the email or newsletter itself. You can also send out a longer, more detailed survey periodically that asks more questions about your association as a whole.

Two points in a member’s time with your association are particularly ripe for feedback:

  • When someone leaves
  • When someone joins

Note: New member survey questions should address aspects like why they joined, what they expect from their membership and how they plan to engage in the association.

You can even offer incentives for completing a member feedback survey, if you think not enough members are participating. Consider giving away gift cards, waiving event or class registration fees or entering participants’ names in a raffle for swag.

Once you’ve received this feedback, transparency is crucial. Think about publishing survey results on your website or in your next newsletter, and ponder what your next steps will be. 

You build trust and strengthen relationships by showing your members that you’ve collected and listened to their opinions. Furthermore, you show leadership by outlining the next steps you’ll take in an area that needs improvement.

Connect With CM Services Today

A well-thought-out member survey can be an extremely valuable tool for communicating and building trust with your members. It’s also a surefire way to encourage open dialogue and find where your organization can further succeed, especially when integrated into comprehensive association membership recruitment strategies.

At CM Services, we help associations like yours overcome challenges and meet goals with these crucial professional services:

  • Strategic and operational planning
  • Membership
  • Publications
  • Project management
  • Marketing


Contact us today for more information and support!

Featured image via Unsplash

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