Submitted by Katie Callahan-Giobbi
In our work with non-profits, I frequently have the chance to talk about member value with our association customers. What value are they creating and delivering to their members? Logic tells me that “member value” is just that…what your members value. How do we know what they value? We ask them. It really is that simple. I suppose human nature makes us hesitant to ask pointed questions, perhaps because we’re afraid of what the answer might be. Maybe we think we know better? Either way, I have come to appreciate that the only right answer…is theirs.
I have been amazed at the number of non-profits who haven’t surveyed their members in years. In some cases, many years. As we change our offerings, re-engineer our conferences or add new services, doesn’t it make sense to ask your membership if it’s something they value (and will pay for)? Our world is changing too quickly and our members have more online education and resources available to them than ever before. Social media is capturing their interactions and allowing for valuable connections to be made seamlessly on a daily basis. What do they really value?
Surveying your members needs to be done properly but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Most important – ask the right questions. Questions that uncover their needs and wants as well as questions that are actionable. Most associations have member contact information at their fingertips. Of course you can outsource your survey, but you can also use an online survey tool like Survey Monkey. If so, you will need to analyze the results on your own. However you choose to go about it and assuming it is done properly, the results will likely pay for themselves in increased member retention, new revenue opportunities and more engaged members.
Be smart. Ask. And really listen.