If you want to ensure membership renewals, your members need to be satisfied with what you're offering them. An annual member needs assessment can help. A member needs assessment is a survey that leaders at associations, chambers of commerce, and other membership organizations send to members to gain feedback on their experience. By going straight to your audience, you’ll be able to learn which benefits they like most, figure out their membership pain points, and use that information to improve your programming. Ultimately, putting these learnings in place will increase your membership renewal rate. When it comes to putting a member satisfaction survey together, start by taking stock of what you already know. Identify the assumptions you’re making internally, and construct a survey that measures those assumptions. Before you create your member needs assessment questionnaire, you’ll want to: Ask frontline staff in charge of interacting directly with members what issues they see coming up. Your staff might be able to tell you they’ve overheard members talking about how current meeting times are difficult for them because they have to find childcare. You can use that information to include questions about meeting times and member interest in childcare options. Look to other organizations that serve your members, and see what they’re doing that you could add to your services. For example, if one offers a monthly webinars series, you can ask your members if they’d be interested in a similar type of programming. Review your member engagement data (like event attendance rates, or email clicks) to see what’s already working—and where you have work to do. For example, if few members are reading your emails, you could ask questions about what types of content members like to engage with through email. By taking these steps, you can finesse the questions you include in your member needs assessment survey. You’ll get more useful information, and show your members that you’re already paying attention to them: they don’t have to do all the work. Once you’ve evaluated what you know and what you want to test, it’s time to start constructing your survey. In this blog, we’ll cover the questions you should include in your next member needs assessment, based on eight different categories: Occupational Benefit Offerings Education and Training Interest Committee and Volunteer Interest Communication Preferences Availability Satisfaction Advocacy Category by category, you’ll learn why each of these sections are crucial to your member needs assessment, and how the information you glean from them can improve your members’ experiences. Want to get started with minimal effort? Scroll to the bottom of the article to demo MemberClicks, and start evaluating your members’ needs. Occupational Occupational questions often include typical survey questions about demographics, like age, race, gender, region, and education level. These data points can help you evaluate how you’re meeting the needs of your members across many identities and lived experiences. This section of your needs assessment questionnaire should also collect information regarding profession. Learning more about your members’ professional backgrounds and interests can help to determine which benefits your organization should add to support them. For example, you could start a members’ only job board to connect them with current opportunities in their fields. Some questions to include in this category are: In what industry do you work? What is your role in your organization? What are your professional goals? What are the goals of your company? What do you need to grow professionally and make an impact? Benefit Offerings Questions about the benefits you currently offer and those your members would like to see you offer are critical for your member needs assessment. Which benefits are the most useful to your members? Which ones drew them to your organization? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine which benefits to continue offering and learn which aren’t as useful to your audience. This is an opportunity to dig deep on which benefits are the most likely to prompt membership renewals. Some questions to include within this category are: What benefits are you using the most? Why? How often do you use X? (with X being a specific benefit you want to learn more about) What would motivate you to use X more? What benefits should we add? What benefits should we take away? Education and Training Interest Your members likely connected with your organization so they could network with and learn from other professionals within their field. By offering both formally organized and organic peer-to-peer learning, you can help your members stay current on new developments within their industry and maintain a competitive edge. A member needs assessment is a great way to see what types of continued education or training opportunities your members want. If they feel like your organization is helping them advance their careers, they’re more likely to continue their membership or even recommend your membership to a colleague. This section of your survey can be used to gauge interest in online learning opportunities as well as any in-person seminars or classes you may already offer. Online and on demand programs make it easier for your busy members to fit learning into their schedule—that means they’re more likely to engage and find value in your programs. Some questions to include within this category are: On a scale of 1-10, how interested are you in our current education offerings? What topics do you want to see covered? How can we help you be better at your job? What will help you the most in your overall career? What modalities do you prefer for education and training (e.g., in-person, virtual, hybrid)? Committee and Volunteer Interest When members take on leadership positions, it demonstrates increased engagement among your members and an opportunity for peer-to-peer recruitment of new members. Plus, it takes the pressure off your membership organization’s staff. Volunteers can also be more likely to become long-term donors, evangelists, or campaigners for your organization because they have a stake in what you do. Fostering opportunities for members to take ownership in your organization through leadership roles can create strong, long-term relationships that encourage membership renewals. Use your member needs assessment to see if members are interested in joining a committee or taking on other volunteer roles within your organization. At the end of your survey, you can include contact information members can use to learn more about opportunities to get involved, in case the questions inspire them to follow-up. You’ll also want to learn how and why members choose to volunteer, so you can shape your volunteer and committee offerings into the future. Some questions to include within this category are: What opportunities are you already taking advantage of? If none, why? What would make this kind of commitment easier for you? What do you enjoy the most and least about these commitments? Why do you volunteer/participate on a committee? Which local philanthropic organizations would you like to see our organization partner with? Communication Preferences As you know, different members prefer different communication styles. Some might love email, while others might head towards “unsubscribe” if they get overwhelmed by messages. You might have members who prefer updates on social media, but others may not use it. Asking your members what type of communication they like can help you: Show your members that you care about their preferences and can cater to their needs, building a relationship that encourages membership loyalty. Get the right information to your members at the right time, leading to higher engagement with your content and meetings. Give your members a chance to share communication concerns with you before they become a problem or cause them to stop their membership. Some questions to include in this category are: How do you prefer to stay updated about meeting times and dates? How do you prefer to stay updated about changes in meeting times and dates? On which platforms do you follow our organization? (based on which digital communication platforms you’re using—these could include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, email, etc.) Availability Every member has a different schedule, and no one likes herding cats. Ask your members about the days and times they’re more likely to be available so you can schedule your communications and events at the times that work for them. Your member needs assessment can also gauge whether current meeting times and locations are working for your members. Evaluate whether a call-in option would help those unable to make it in-person or whether your organization should offer services like childcare during your meetings and events. Some questions to include in this category are: How often do you think meetings should occur? What day of the week is best to meet? What is the best time to meet? Do you feel that meetings are too long? Too short? What prevents you from attending? Would you come more often if childcare were available? If food was served? Are you interested in offsite meetings (for example, at a coffee shop, restaurant, park, etc.)? Would you prefer if we rotated meeting days to include some weekends? Satisfaction Make sure to cut to the chase: are your members actually happy? Ask some straightforward questions about their overall satisfaction. After all, high satisfaction is what increases the likelihood of membership renewals. With these questions, you can identify which members are currently dissatisfied, learn why, and make changes you think could improve both their experiences as well as the greater membership’s satisfaction as a whole. Leave these questions open-ended so members can speak openly about whatever they want to say. It’s important they feel like they can be honest and direct with their feedback. This helps everyone in the end by identifying what’s working and what is not. Some questions to include within this category are: What makes you happy to be a member? What would you change? Otherwise, quantitative measures can give you an overall pulse on satisfaction levels. For example, you could ask your members: On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least satisfied and 10 being the most satisfied, how satisfied are you with our current membership benefits? Make sure your questions are specific enough to identify what could be causing lower satisfaction levels. For example, the previous question asked specifically about satisfaction levels with the membership benefits rather than simply: Are you satisfied? You can also include text boxes alongside quantitative measures to encourage respondents to explain their reasonings for these scores. Advocacy Advocacy efforts can be a key piece of an association’s value to its members. Marketing General Incorporated’s 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report showed that 21% of survey respondents chose “supporting advocacy” as one of the top three reasons they join an organization’s membership. If your association or chamber participates in advocacy or lobbying activities, there are a few additional questions you should ask to see how you can support your members in this area. Some questions to include within this category are: Do you participate in our advocacy efforts? What is your preferred method of participation? What issues are most important to you? Which issues do you think will impact the industry the most within the next five years? How do you think these issues will impact the industry? Ensure Member Satisfaction Through a Member Needs Assessment Want a faster, easier way to send and gather data for your member needs assessment surveys? Check out the MemberClicks demo, which can streamline the process. Happy members are more likely to renew their memberships, and membership retention makes for a sustainable membership organization. We hope you’re able to create a member needs assessment survey to learn all you can about your supporters to keep them happy, encourage membership renewals, and continue to thrive as an organization!