This is Part 2 of our 2012 Blog Reader Survey results. Back in January, we asked our readers to participate in an annual online survey to find out the key issues impacting small membership organizations and what information we could offer in the Wild Apricot blog that might help. Thanks again to those who participated.
Last week in Part 1, we covered survey response about our readers and why they follow our blog. You might be interested to note that those who answered this year’s survey were predominantly staff or volunteers at small membership organizations with fewer than 500 members or supporters.
In this post, we’ll look at the issues facing membership organizations as well as: feedback about expectations for membership growth; the challenges organizations are facing; and communications channels being used to recruit and inform members.
What issues are membership organizations facing?
This year and last, we asked: What are the key issues you and your organization are facing? When we compared this year’s response to 2011’s, the top two issues remain the same:
- Membership acquisition/growth
- Membership engagement & communications
However, “membership retention” and “resource scarcity” ranked much higher than last year. And it seems that this year, “budget Issues” aren’t as much of a hot button item as they were in 2011. In addition, “volunteer recruitment and management” also seem to be less urgent issues for 2012.
Expectations for Membership Growth
We asked: What are your organization's realistic expectations for growth this year? And this is what blog readers told us:
- 52% - expect to increase membership by 5 - 10%
- 31.5% - expect to retain current member/supporter levels
- 12% - expect to grow membership by 20% or more
- 4.5% - expect to lose 10% of current members
What are the key challenges affecting your membership growth?
Once we identified our blog readers’ expectations for growth, we wanted to find out what obstacles or challenges might impact that growth this year. As you can see, the top three challenges are:
- Lack of staff/volunteer resources
- Ineffective benefits/service offerings
- Inadequate marketing abilities & funds
It was interesting to note that the economy – while still a consideration – was ranked as the least of the challenges noted by survey participants.
While we fully expected “website” and “email” to be the top recruitment methods, the fact that almost all respondents also ranked “Word-of-mouth” as key stands to remind us of the importance that peer interaction and recommendations continue to play for membership organizations.
Communicating With Members
When it comes to the “method for regular communication with existing members/supporters”, “online or email newsletters or updates” continue to be the vehicle of choice, and it looks like good old “snail” mail is also still popular for membership outreach.
Online Membership Tasks
To find out the levels of automation of membership functions, we asked: “Which of the following tasks are done through your website?” Not surprisingly, membership registration, renewal and payment topped the list, followed by event registration and payments.
We also wanted to “take the pulse” of membership organizations around the type and frequency of events they plan to hold in 2012. From the feedback on the survey, it looks like events remain a key offering for most of the membership organizations who responded.
Applying the Blog Reader Survey Results
As we’ve noted in past posts, online surveys can be a great way to poll your members to get their feedback in order to prioritize goals or services. We plan to use the information we gathered through this Blog Reader Survey to develop content for both this blog as well as our Membership Knowledge Hub (articles and guides and other resources for small membership organizations). So thanks for your feedback and stay tuned to this blog for posts on the topics you identified.