Guide to Member Surveys: Top 10 Powerful Tips for Associations 

Understanding the pulse of your association members is crucial for delivering exceptional value and fostering stronger connections. Membership survey questions serve as invaluable tools to achieve this goal, but crafting membership survey questions that yield actionable insights requires careful planning and execution. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unveil survey tips, empowering you to harness the full potential of member surveys.

Importance of a Member Survey for Associations

Member surveys are crucial tools for any association looking to thrive and serve its members effectively. They provide a direct line of communication with your members, allowing you to:

  • Understand member needs & wants: Directly ask members what matters to them, guiding your offerings and priorities.
  • Boost satisfaction & engagement: Show members you value their voice, leading to happier and more involved members.
  • Improve services & programs: Identify areas for improvement and tailor offerings to better meet member needs.
  • Increase membership renewals: Address concerns and demonstrate responsiveness, encouraging members to stay.
  • Attract new members: Understanding the demographics and preferences of your current members allows you to target outreach efforts more effectively and attract individuals who align with your association’s purpose and offerings.

After collating the data gathered from association membership survey questions, associations can analyze the data to form a comprehensive report that can guide you in improving! 

Examples of member survey results

When Should you Consider Surveying your Members?

Surveying your members can be a valuable tool for gathering feedback, understanding their needs, and improving your organization or community. Here are some situations and considerations when you should consider surveying your members:

Situation / OutcomePurpose of Survey
New Initiatives or ChangesAlign changes with member expectations and needs.
Feedback on Current Programs/ServicesIdentify areas for improvement in existing offerings.
Membership SatisfactionGauge overall satisfaction and engagement levels.
Strategic PlanningInvolve members in strategic planning for alignment.
Membership Renewal or RecruitmentUnderstand the reasons behind renewals or recruitment.
Event PlanningTailor events to member preferences for higher satisfaction.
Communication PreferencesUnderstand how members prefer to receive information.
Diversity and InclusionIdentify areas for improvement in inclusivity and diversity.
Crisis or ChallengesGather insights during crises to guide response efforts.
Continuous ImprovementFoster a culture of ongoing feedback for adaptation and improvement.
Situations when you should consider surveying your members

When conducting surveys, ensure that they are well-designed, focused, and respectful of your members’ time. Clear communication about the purpose of the survey and how the feedback will be used is also important to encourage participation.

Here are 10 Tips Associations Can Use To Get the Most Out of Their Association Membership Surveys

Crafting effective member surveys that deliver actionable insights isn’t always easy. So, how can you ensure your association gets the most out of its member surveys? Here are some top strategies specifically tailored to associations:

1. Consider the Goal of your Survey: What do you Want to Achieve From the Data? 

Before crafting any questions, identify your desired outcome. For example: 

  • What specific information do you need?
    • Measure satisfaction with events
    • Gauge interest in new services
    • Gather feedback on a specific initiative
    • Evaluate the impact of recent changes or initiatives within an organization
    • Understand perceptions about a product, service, or your association’s branding?
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns
    • Gather demographic information for segmentation purposes
    • Gather feedback on user experience for a website or application

A clear goal helps you create targeted questions and analyze data effectively. A targeted survey yields relevant data leading to actionable improvements. Members feel their voices are heard in areas that matter to them, boosting engagement. 

Make sure to assess your survey goals using the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Tailor your survey design and questions to directly address this goal. 

SMART goal design for association member surveys

2. Target the Right Audience: Know From Whom You Want the Data

Don’t blast surveys to everyone. Segment your members based on demographics, interests, or engagement levels. Send relevant surveys to specific groups, ensuring questions directly connect to their needs and experiences. Targeted member surveys generate more focused, valuable feedback. They improve response rates as members see the survey’s relevance to them, leading to more valuable data for specific areas of improvement.

Use your membership database to segment members. Consider survey software with targeting options based on demographics, interests, or past survey responses.

Define the criteria you’ll use to segment your members. Common segmentation factors include:

  • Membership type (e.g., individual, corporate, student).
  • Geographic location.
  • Duration of membership.
  • Engagement level (e.g., active, inactive).
  • Industry or profession.
  • Certification or Accreditation Status.
  • Specialization or Niche Focus.
  • Revenue or Contribution Level. 

Examine your member data to identify patterns or characteristics that align with your chosen segmentation criteria. Utilize your association’s database or membership/association management software.

Based on the identified criteria, create distinct segments or groups. For example, you might have segments like “New Members,” “Long-Term Members,” or “Members from a Specific Region.”

3. Keep Membership Survey Questions Crisp and Compelling: Respecting Members’ Time is Key

Long, tedious surveys guarantee low completion rates. Use clear, concise language and a logical flow. Prioritize your most important questions and avoid unnecessary ones.

Members are busy. Respecting their time shows you value their input, leading to higher participation and more reliable data. You can make sure that your survey questions don’t frustrate your members by following these points:

  • Pilot-test your survey with a small group to ensure clarity and length. 
  • Use progress bars to show respondents their completion timeline. 
  • Offer multiple versions (e.g., short and long) to cater to different preferences.
  • For member surveys without optional anonymity, pre-fill members’ contact information.

4. Decide on How You Want to Conduct Your Member Surveys: What Type of Survey You Should Choose 

The medium you choose for your survey plays a crucial role in response rates and data quality. Here are your options:

Survey methodCharacteristics
Online SurveysPopular and convenient, offering wide reach and easy data analysis. Choose user-friendly platforms and ensure mobile compatibility.
Paper SurveysUseful for members without internet access or preferring printed formats. Consider printing costs and potential biases due to lower response rates.
In-person FeedbackIdeal for capturing immediate feedback at events or meetings. Requires dedicated personnel and may limit participant anonymity.
Telephone/Text-Message SurveysPersonalized touch but time-consuming. Suitable for small targeted groups or following up on online surveys.
Hybrid SurveysCombine online and offline options for greater flexibility and accessibility. Consider logistics and ensure a seamless experience across mediums.

Apart from these, you can choose specific survey techniques to focus on a particular goal. For example, if you want to measure the likelihood of members recommending your association to their friends and colleagues, you can conduct an NPS survey. 

NPS Survey for Associations:

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey is a customer loyalty measurement tool that starts with a single question: “How likely are you to recommend [Your Association] to a friend or colleague?” on a scale of 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). Based on their responses, members are categorized as:

  • Promoters (9-10): Loyal and enthusiastic members who are likely to recommend your association.
  • Passives (7-8): Neutral members who are satisfied but not actively engaged.
  • Detractors (0-6): Unhappy members who could damage your reputation through word-of-mouth.

Types of NPS Surveys:

  • Transactional NPS: Measures members’ experience with a specific interaction (e.g., event attendance, membership renewal).
  • Relational NPS: Measures overall member perception and loyalty towards the association.
  • Benchmark NPS: Compares your association’s NPS to industry benchmarks to assess your competitive standing.
How likely re you to recommend our association to a friend or a colleague

Remember, the NPS is just one metric. Use it in conjunction with other feedback mechanisms to get a complete picture of member satisfaction.

5. Ensure Accessibility for All Members to Avoid Biases and Encourage Participation:

Accessibility is crucial for inclusion and accurate data. Offer your membership survey questions in multiple formats (e.g., online, paper, phone) and consider translations for diverse languages. Consider dyslexia-friendly fonts and screen reader compatibility. Remember, diverse voices matter, so make sure everyone can participate. Inclusive surveys reach a wider member base, providing more representative data and preventing bias. Members feel valued and engaged when their accessibility needs are met. To make sure that your member survey is accessible to all consider the following points:

  • Use clear fonts, high contrast, and screen reader compatibility. 
  • Partner with accessibility experts to ensure your survey meets guidelines. 
  • Offer alternative formats and translations where possible. 
  • Not everyone enjoys filling out online forms. Explore alternative options like polls, in-person member surveys at events, or even phone interviews. 

Test your survey with diverse users to identify and address any barriers.

6. Know How and When To Distribute Association Membership Survey Questions

Choosing the right distribution method and timing can significantly impact your response rate and the quality of your data. Choosing the right timing and distribution strategy ensures maximum exposure and participation from your target audience. This leads to a more representative sample and more reliable data for informed decision-making. Here are some key considerations:

  • Avoid busy periods: Steer clear of holidays, vacations, or major association events when members might be less engaged.
  • Consider weekdays vs. weekends: Weekdays may be better for work-related surveys, while weekends offer more leisure time for personal responses.
  • Weekday timing: Mid-morning (10-12 AM) or mid-afternoon (2-4 PM) often see higher engagement.
  • Avoid sending multiple surveys in close succession: Give members time to respond and avoid survey fatigue.

Analyze past survey data and member engagement patterns to identify the optimal timing  for your member base – every association is different.

7. Motivate Participation with Incentives that Resonate with Your Members:

Offering incentives can nudge members to complete your survey. But choose wisely! Tailor incentives to your audience and budget. Here are a few ways to incentivize members

  • Offering discounts on events
  • Providing exclusive access to premium content or resources
  • Granting early access to new products, services, or features
  • Providing access to networking opportunities or mentorship programs
  • Offering professional development opportunities such as workshops or training sessions

Incentives increase response rates, providing a larger pool of data for analysis. Additionally, they demonstrate your appreciation for member participation, fostering stronger relationships. Come from a position of giving to pay it forward for your members if you can, avoiding the sense of a transactional tit-for-tat experience where possible.

You can leverage your understanding of members to align incentives with your target audience’s interests. One example is to offer tiered incentives based on completing different survey sections.

8. Promote Effectively Across Your Association’s Communication Channels:

Don’t rely on just email announcements. Leverage all your association’s communication channels to promote your survey: your website, social media, newsletters, and even printed materials. Create a sense of urgency and highlight the value of member input. Multi-channel promotion increases survey awareness and accessibility, leading to wider participation and diverse perspectives. You can improve your survey distribution by actively promoting the survey, and sending alerts through: 

Promote member surveys effectively

However, don’t overpromote so that the member feels frustrated – especially if they have already registered or completed it! In general, 1-2 reminders are ideal. 

9. Show Appreciation and Transparency to Build Trust and Encourage Future Engagement:

Thank respondents for their time and effort. Communicate how you will use the feedback. Share key findings and implement changes based on the survey results. This builds trust and encourages future engagement. Appreciation demonstrates respect for member participation. Transparency builds trust and shows members their input truly matters! Remember, member experience is very important in making an impact on your community, valuable experience can lead to increased engagement and satisfaction. 

  • Send personalized thank-you emails to all respondents. 
  • Publish a summary of key findings and implemented changes in newsletters or member portals. 
  • Showcase member feedback in presentations or reports.

Bonus Tip: Do tell your members about the change you brought in your association services based on the survey, and how the survey guided you to bring out the change. Also, don’t just present generic results. Share personalized takeaways and recommendations with individual members based on their responses. This demonstrates the value of their participation and encourages future engagement.

10. Test, Test, and Test Again: Ensure a Smooth Member Experience

Before launching your survey, thorough testing is crucial for a seamless member experience. Test it on a small group of members with diverse technical backgrounds and devices to iron out any glitches and ensure it functions flawlessly across:

  • Browsers: Test functionality on popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Internet Explorer (if still relevant for your members). Check for proper layout, question rendering, answer selection, and submission processes.
  • Devices: Ensure your survey is mobile-friendly and responsive on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Verify font sizes, button placements, and navigation are optimized for smaller screens and touch interfaces.
  • Accessibility: Conduct accessibility testing using tools like WAVE or Accessibility Insights for Web to identify and address any issues for members with disabilities, such as screen readers, keyboard navigation, and color contrast.
  • Logical flow: Test the question order and flow to ensure a smooth and intuitive experience. Check for logical transitions, skip logic functionality, and clear instructions throughout the survey.

By implementing these strategies, associations can harness the full power of association membership survey questions to gain deeper insights, engage members more effectively, and ultimately achieve their goals.

Member Surveys and Beyond: What to Do With All That Data

Remember, the true power of a member survey lies in action. That is, associations can use data-driven insights to implement changes and improve member engagement. Analyzing the feedback and implementing meaningful changes based on it shows members their voices are heard and valued, solidifying the association’s role as a true representative of their needs.

Once you’ve collected all that valuable data from member surveys, it’s essential to take action to make the most of it. Here are some steps associations can take to effectively utilize survey data:

Utilize member survey data effectively

Taking action based on member surveys reinforces their value and strengthens the association’s relationship with its members.

Survey Tools Association’s Can Use To Improve Efficiency 

Gone are the days of paper and pen! Utilize online platforms like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. They offer user-friendly interfaces and powerful data analysis tools, making survey creation, distribution, and analysis a breeze. Consider mobile-friendly options too, so members can provide feedback on the go, from anywhere, anytime. If you choose to do your survey offline, digitize responses for future use and analysis.

Pro Tip: Consider involving members in the survey design process. This fosters ownership and increases response rates.

Tools to Create Member Surveys:

  • SurveyMonkey: One of the most popular survey creation tools with a user-friendly interface and various question types.
  • Google Forms: Offers a simple way to create surveys with customizable templates and integration with other Google services.
  • Typeform: Known for its interactive and engaging survey design, with features like conditional logic and multimedia integration.
  • Qualtrics: Offers advanced survey features including branching logic, panel management, and robust analytics.
  • SurveyGizmo: Provides customizable survey templates and advanced features like API integrations and white-labeling.

Distributing Member Surveys:

  • Email Campaign Platforms: Tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Sendinblue allow you to embed surveys directly into email campaigns.
  • Social Media Platforms: Utilize platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to share survey links with your audience.
  • Website Embedding: Tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg allow you to embed surveys directly into your website for visitors to fill out.
  • SMS Survey Tools: Services like Survey Anyplace or SurveyLegend enable you to send surveys via SMS messages.

Analyzing Member Surveys:

  • SurveyMonkey Analyze: Provides built-in analytics tools including filters, cross-tabulation, and data visualization.
  • Google Forms Responses: Google Forms has basic built-in analytics tools for viewing and analyzing survey responses.
  • Qualtrics Stats iQ: Offers advanced statistical analysis tools to uncover insights from survey data.
  • Tableau: Advanced data visualization software that can import survey data for in-depth analysis and visualization.
  • Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets: Basic but versatile tools for analyzing survey data using functions, pivot tables, and charts.

Choose tools based on your specific needs, budget, and level of expertise to optimize your survey process effectively.


By implementing these strategies, you can unlock the true potential of member surveys. Remember, the journey doesn’t end with data collection. Analyzing the feedback and taking action based on it demonstrates your commitment to member voices, solidifying your association’s role as a true advocate for their needs. So, put these tips into practice, gather those valuable insights, and watch your association thrive with members feeling heard, engaged, and valued.