Stakeholder & Member Surveys: Pro Tips from Top Resources

How are we really doing?

In order to get better as a membership organization, it’s the question you need answered.

Associations, nonprofit membership programs, and various membership organizations use surveys to learn more about their stakeholders and appeal to their preferences. With the right member survey, you can understand: how you’re truly doing, how to retain donors and how to keep your members satisfied!

When creating surveys, it’s helpful to look to top industry resources for guidance. From following up on virtual fundraising efforts to assessing the needs of your current donors, remember that surveys and feedback come in all different shapes and sizes!

Some of the most common surveys you should be sending to gather feedback include:

Of course, these surveys and assessments are only as good as the questions you’re asking and the feedback you receive. It’s all about collecting member feedback the right way. For example, only ask for feedback you’re truly going to use, and make sure to provide space to give open and honest feedback.

Check out these pro tips from top membership organization resources—they’ll help you get the feedback you need to build a better membership organization.

Member Needs Assessment

Put simply, a member needs assessment is a pulse on how you’re doing as a membership organization or association and if you’re meeting the needs of your members.

In order to prepare for your member needs assessment, there are a few things you can do ahead of time. For starters, talk with your staff to see the feedback they receive on a daily basis. You should also do your research into what other membership organizations like yours are offering to their members.

When it’s time for the assessment, you’ll want to ask questions in your member needs assessment about all aspects of your organization, such as:

  • Communications Preferences
  • Membership Satisfaction
  • Educational Needs
  • Volunteer Opportunity Interests

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 assessments and figure out what works for your organization.

Take a deeper dive into member needs assessments!

Donor Retention Surveys

Just because somebody gave to your organization once does not mean they are guaranteed to give again. According to the 2020 Blackbaud Charitable Giving report, only 25% of new online donors made a second gift in the first 12 months.

Let’s say you gained a brand new donor from a recent giving day or virtual fundraising event. Now what?

The easiest way to ensure donors continue to come back time and time again is to simply open up a dialogue through a donor retention survey or feedback session.

Donor retention surveys help provide your organization with key knowledge to figure out why donors are sticking around to continue giving, and how you can prevent donors from leaving in the future.

Use surveys to build member/donor personas.

Understanding your donors and members is the first step to retaining them. By developing personas, you can group your members and donors by their interests, giving behaviors, motivations and more. In order to keep them coming back, you have to understand why they’re there in the first place!

Conduct stakeholder interviews.

It’s time to get out there and truly talk to your donors. 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 more verbally and for you to ask follow up questions, versus them submitting feedback virtually.

Incorporate donor feedback into future events and activities.

Simply collecting the data is not enough. Once you have it, you have to use it! Making the best experience possible for your donors and members involves listening and truly implementing change.

Use a strong communications strategy to stay in touch.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is not the position you want your membership organization to be in. Have a strategy for how often you’ll reach out to donors to encourage them to give or remind them about your organization.

  • A few example questions to include in a donor retention survey include:
  • What motivated you to give the very first time?
  • What continues to motivate you to give to our organization?
  • What differentiates our organization from other organizations with a similar mission?

Find more on donor retention surveys and get donors to stick around.

Member Satisfaction Survey

A member satisfaction survey is a survey used to gauge how your members are feeling about your organization. It can be a simple way to catch small issues or feedback that you could easily address, thus leading to increased membership retention.

Define your goals.

What do you want to know? Maybe there’s a new initiative you launched and you aren’t sure how members feel about it. Maybe you simply haven’t checked in for awhile and need to know how your members are liking the organization. Start with why you hope to get out of the survey and work backward.

Keep the survey focused and on topic.

If a survey is too long or not focused, you’ll automatically lose interest. Ensure that your survey is concise and asks the questions you need to achieve your goal. No more, no less. If you start to add in too many topics, you’ll run out of space for what really matters. Bonus: standardize responses as much as you can to collect measurable data (although always leave room for qualitative feedback!).

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!

Share the results.

Take the information you collect and show your members you’re paying attention. Use the numbers or results you get to explain decisions you’re making. For example, “80% of our members said they found the coffee series to be valuable and we received 10 topic ideas from members, which we plan to implement.” This shows that you not only took the time to find out what members wanted, but you also acted on their wants and needs.

A few examples of questions you’ll want to include in your survey are:

  • How satisfied are you with your membership?
  • How likely are you to renew your membership?
  • What do you think is the best membership benefit we offer?
  • How can we improve our club meetings?

Get even more questions to include on your membership survey and learn more about member satisfaction surveys.

Post-Event Feedback Survey

Putting an event together is a ton of work. And a post-event survey helps make next time easier!

This type of survey is sent at the conclusion of an event to gather feedback to gauge the success of the event. That way, your attendees can tell you directly what they’d like to see at the next one!

Send your post-event feedback survey at the right time.

Send your post-survey feedback survey directly at the conclusion of your event. Ensure there is allotted time at the closing of the event so that your attendees have scheduled time to provide their feedback. Then, consider sending a follow up reminder within the week.

Choose the right platforms to distribute your survey.

How you get your post-event survey into the hands of your attendees will be entirely dependent on the audience and the way in which you held your event.

For example, at a virtual event you may send a link in the chat, follow up with an email directly concluding the event and have a scannable QR code on the screen toward the end of the event. However, at an in-person event you may want to offer a physical form for those who aren’t as tech-savvy. The best platforms for receiving post-event feedback make it easy on both the person filling out the survey, and the person who will be using that collected data.

Offer incentives for attendees to complete the survey.

If it’s an annual event, give one lucky attendee a free registration for next year’s event. Or, give away a gift card to a local eatery or shopping spot. Pay the membership fees for one survey taker. Offering incentive is likely to boost the participation in your survey, meaning you get more valuable feedback.

Ask the right questions.

You’ll want to make sure the questions you ask in a post-event survey are personalized to the event that you just held. However, there are some questions you’ll want to make sure to include no matter the event, such as:

  • Overall, how would you rate the event? (Interval scale question from very unsatisfactory to very satisfactory)
  • What did you like most about the event? (Open-ended question)
  • What did you like least about the event? (Open-ended question)
  • Do you have any other suggestions or comments to help us improve our future events? (Open-ended question)

Check out these ways to dive further into the world of post-event feedback surveys.

PS—check out these ways to increase the impact of your virtual events.


Now that you know how to ask for the information you need to succeed, it’s time to put it into practice. Keep an eye on all three blogs, OneCause, MemberClicks, and WildApricot, for other expert advice regarding donor and membership management.

Wrapping Up!

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