A common problem for membership associations is a tendency to be disproportionally influenced by active members who engage with staff on a regular basis. Their views may or may not reflect those of the majority of members. You therefore need to research the views of a much wider range of members when making key decisions.
I specialise in membership recruitment and retention.
In this area alone you need to research at least four basic areas:
There are many different ways to conduct research. Traditionally the focus has been on postal questionnaires for quantitative research or focus groups for qualitative research where you can ask more open-ended questions.
Increasingly e-surveys and e-polls are the latest format and are great because they are fast, easy to analyse and flexible. Jane Broomfield of Intellegentia Ltd is an expert on e-surveys and commented: “One of the biggest advantages of online surveys is that you can build in intelligence so that each respondent only sees the questions that are relevant based on their previous answer. This reduces the size of the survey and improves response rates.” They are popular for needs assessments, conference evaluations, readership studies, salary and economic surveys.
To find out more information about using e-surveys, click here.
Intercept research is also a handy approach to get lots of views in a short space of time and gives you the opportunity to get face-to-face reaction and ask open questions. This is where you ‘intercept’ people at a conference or exhibition and ask them to answer a few questions.
Some of the most common questions that arise when conducting research are as follows:
Member research is a huge area and a vital exercise for any association that wants to keep in touch with its members and community. The good news is that conducting research in the right way has a positive impact because members feel they are being involved and included, and involvement is one of the most important factors influencing retention.
This article was published in Association Manager in June 2005