4 Essential Stakeholder and Member Surveys You Need to Send

How are we really doing?

To improve as a membership organization, it’s the question you need answered. While there are metrics you can review internally to gauge your organization’s health, your members are the only ones who can really give you the answer you’re looking for!

For nonprofits and other membership-based organizations, the member experience is key to running a long-term, successful program. But, how do you gauge the state of your member experience? This is where member surveys come in handy.

When you survey your organization’s supporters regularly, you gain crucial insights into how effective your current benefits and engagement opportunities are and the key changes you can make moving forward.

There are several types of surveys and strategies for collecting feedback. Four important types of member surveys include:

In this guide, we’ll walk through each of these approaches for gathering feedback and increasing member satisfaction.


1. Member Needs Assessment

According to MCI’s Association Engagement Index, only 25% of members in professional and trade associations consider their membership an excellent value for their money. How can membership organizations address this to provide more value to their members? By conducting a member needs assessment!

Put simply, a member needs assessment is a pulse on how you’re doing as a membership organization or association. It answers whether or not you’re meeting your members’ needs.

Before sending your member needs assessment, start with internal research. Ask your staff what feedback they already receive from members most frequently. Also, take a look at what other membership organizations like yours are offering to their members and how your benefits align with those groups.

When it’s time for your member survey, group questions into key areas where you’d like to obtain more information. Here are some common categories and questions to consider:

  • Communications Preferences: What are your preferred communication methods? What days or times do you prefer to receive communications? How frequently?
  • Educational Interests: What topics would you like to see covered in next year’s webinar series? Is there a certification program our members could benefit from?
  • Volunteer Interests: Would you be interested in more volunteer opportunities? What types of volunteer activities would you be most likely to participate in?
  • Member Benefits: Do you feel your membership cost matches the value you receive? What member benefits do you use most? What would you like to see added?

Once you’ve crafted the assessment, it’s time to send it to your members! Come up with a cadence for how often you’ll do these member surveys to facilitate ongoing feedback.

And, most importantly, remember to leverage insights from these questions to improve your membership management and better appeal to members’ preferences. A member survey is only worth the time and effort if you actually use what you learn to enhance the member experience.

2. Donor Retention Survey

Just because somebody gave to your organization once doesn’t guarantee they’ll give again. However, returning donors offer a reliable revenue stream, cost less than recruiting new donors, and increase your organization’s reputation through their ongoing engagement. Therefore, focusing on donor retention is a priority for all successful membership programs!

To secure recurring gifts and membership renewals, your organization needs to build meaningful relationships with supporters. The easiest way to ensure donors continue to come back time and time again is to communicate well and show that you value their involvement. One way to do this is to solicit feedback from donors by surveying or interviewing them.

Donor feedback surveys and stakeholder interviews help provide your organization with key knowledge on why donors stay and how to prevent them from leaving. Let’s dive into two ways to go about collecting feedback.

Send a donor feedback survey

This type of member survey allows you to gain a better understanding of donors’ motivations for giving. You can learn about why they feel connected to your mission and what drew them to your work in the first place. You can also learn about their interests and giving capacities to inform how you engage with them moving forward.

Around once a year, plan to send a donor feedback survey to all of your supporters from that year with questions such as:

  • What motivated you to give to our organization the very first time, and what continues to drive your support?
  • What differentiates our organization from others with a similar mission?
  • How would you like to hear about our work to meet our mission?
  • Are there other ways that you would like to be involved next year?

This information will help you develop your donor retention plan, including how often you reach out to donors, the types of invitations you send them, and how you ask them for their next gift.

Interview stakeholders

Talking to your donors face-to-face gives you a chance to get to know them better and deepen your relationship. It’s also a chance to humanize your organization and let donors know you truly value their input and are taking it seriously to become the best you can be.

A one-on-one or small group interview setting provides an open space for stakeholders to tell you exactly what they’re feeling. Plus, it allows a space for them to elaborate on their survey responses and for you to ask follow-up questions. You can conduct these in person to orient supporters to your organization’s facility or use video-conferencing software to accommodate their schedules and transportation needs.

3. Member Satisfaction Survey

A member satisfaction survey is used to gauge how your members feel about your organization. It’s a simple way to catch small issues before they grow and to gather feedback you can use to increase member retention. There are a few steps to take to conduct an effective member satisfaction survey.

Define your goals

First, establish exactly what you want to gain from this survey. Are you hoping to get a general assessment of overall member satisfaction with your organization, or is there a specific new initiative you launched and you want to see how members feel about it?

Once you know what your goal for the member survey is, you can use it to select the right questions and target the right members. Taking this step will improve your survey’s overall effectiveness.

Compile a concise list of questions

If a survey is too long or not focused, people will automatically lose interest. Ensure that your survey is concise and asks the questions you need to achieve your goal. If you start to add in too many topics, you’ll run out of space for what really matters.

Here are some example questions you may want to include in your member satisfaction survey:

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your membership?
  • How likely are you to renew your membership?
  • Would you recommend our organization to a friend? Why or why not?
  • What do you think is the best membership benefit we offer?
  • How can we improve our member events?
  • Is there anything else you’d like for us to know?

Aim to have a mix of quantitative and qualitative responses so you can review members’ feedback from a variety of angles.

Test the survey with a small group of members first

It’s easy to look at your survey as a carefully crafted masterpiece when you were the one to put it together. However, when you’re that close to a body of work, it’s important to seek an outside opinion. Ask a small group of your members if the survey makes sense, what’s missing, and what they might add or change.

If you already have a member-led advisory committee or member leadership, these are good individuals to tap for this task. Make sure to tell them upfront what your goals for the survey are and thank them afterward for their help.

Share the results

Whenever you run a survey, it’s important to follow up with participants to let them know what you learned. Sharing your member survey results shows your members that you’re paying attention to their needs and concerns. This can make them feel more valued and appreciated, which, in turn, can increase member retention.

Use your survey results to explain the decisions you’re making. Give clear next steps you’ll be taking, including a timeline for those. This shows that you not only took the time to find out what members wanted, but you also acted on their wants and needs.

For example, you might share: “80% of our members said that they found the coffee series to be valuable, and we received 10 topic ideas from members for future talks. Given the popularity of these events, we plan to implement these 10 ideas next quarter and will also host them virtually through our learning management software to increase members’ access to the events.”

4. Post-Event Survey

Putting an event together is a ton of work, but a post-event survey can make it easier next time! Post-event surveys are sent after an event to gather attendee feedback and gauge success.

Your attendees get the chance to tell you directly what they’d like to see at future gatherings. To ensure high participation in your survey and quality responses, there are a few tips to follow.

Ask event-specific questions

Make sure the questions you ask in a post-event survey are personalized to the event you just held. There are likely specific aspects of your event that you’ll want to gather feedback on, such as your speakers, food vendors, venue, schedule, ticket pricing, and online payment options.

In addition to these detailed questions, include a few questions that look at the event as a whole, such as:

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate the event?
  • What did you like most about the event?
  • What did you like least about the event?
  • Do you have any other suggestions or comments to help us improve our future events?

Identify common patterns in the feedback you receive to prioritize improvements in event plans moving forward.

Send it promptly

Be sure to send out your post-event survey while the experience is fresh on attendees’ minds. You can let attendees know at the end of the event to expect it in their inboxes within the hour!

While it’s important to get people to complete your survey quickly, doing so doesn’t always align with members’ schedules. Plan to send a few follow-up reminders in case some members forget to submit their feedback. And be sure to let your members know the deadline for when your survey will close.

Make it easy to access

How you get your post-event survey into the hands of your attendees depends on your audience and how you hold your event. Use event software to make post-event feedback easy for both the person filling out the survey and the person who will be using that collected data.

At a virtual event, you can send a link to the survey in the chat, send a follow-up email after the event, and feature a scannable QR code on the screen. At in-person events, you may want to offer a physical form for those who aren’t as tech-savvy, along with a QR code printed on it for those who wish to scan and complete it on their smartphones.

Offer incentives

Offering incentives for completing your survey can boost participation, which ultimately leads to getting more valuable feedback. Consider giving participants a discount code or branded swag.

You can also take a raffle approach to your incentive and say that one lucky participant will receive a larger perk, such as:

  • Free registration for next year’s event
  • Dinner for two at a local eatery
  • Gift cards for popular shopping spots
  • Free membership for a year

This is a stellar way to show appreciation to survey participants, as well.

Leverage Member Surveys to Improve Your Organization

Member surveys can offer organizations a wealth of knowledge to improve their operations. They also give members a chance to use their voice and feel more involved with your organization.

However, always remember that simply collecting the data is not enough. Once you have it, you have to use it! Ensuring the best experience for your donors and members involves listening and actually making improvements based on members’ feedback. This assures members that you value their input and prioritize their experience with your organization.

If you’re looking for a way to make sending member surveys and analyzing the data easier, look for association management software that can help automate the process and connect you with the right members at the right times.

Wrapping Up

If you’re seeking more strategies to engage and retain your members, consider these additional resources: