Association feedback loops – how can your organization uncover reality? People join associations to promote a “common cause or interest.” A keyword in that sentence is “people” (aka – members). Members are the ones that believe in the common cause or interest and band together to form the Association. It’s up to Association leaders to create an environment that ensures members are sufficiently engaged to support that mission effectively.
How do leaders decide on actions to maintain or improve member engagement? Decisions depend on information. A leader could make a decision based entirely on intuition. However, most would agree, supporting information (reality) is necessary to ensure buy-in from Stakeholders.
Information can be acquired from various sources. Internal sources could be financial and administrative records. External resources could be from government or commercial data. Another source would be information from Members themselves. One way to obtain feedback for Associations is to survey members.
Paper-and-pencil surveys have given way to digital methods. Most surveys dedicated to feedback for Associations today are deployed via the internet. Digital surveys have many advantages:
Easy to deploy – Software tools allow the survey to be created and deployed. Typically an email or text is sent with a link to the survey. The survey is filled out and submitted online.
Easy to tabulate – Once submitted, data from digital surveys are collected in a database. There is no data entry as in the paper-and-pencil era. This makes keying errors a thing of the past. However, if the survey respondent entered a mistaken response, there is no way to know if inaccurate data ended up in the database.
Most Associations today use digital survey tools. However, getting the data about prospective respondents into the survey tool requires extra steps. An output file must be created from a Member database and then manually uploaded into the survey tool. Also, once data is received from respondents, it often needs to be downloaded to an export file and then uploaded into yet another software program for analysis.
Newer tools have come onto the market to solve this problem by integrating the Member database with a survey function that includes analytical and reporting capabilities. This way data importing and exporting is eliminated so all the processes surrounding Association feedback loops are streamlined.