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The Essential Guide to Member Surveys: Types, Tips, and 40+ Questions

9 min read
May 09, 2024
Shannon Whitehead headshot
Shannon Whitehead
Content Strategist, Neon One

When you’re faced with buying a present for someone you barely know, there’s plenty of room for mistakes because you’re not privy to what they like or want. It’s difficult to meet someone’s needs if you don’t know what they are. It’s for these reasons (and others) that organizations use member surveys to get to know their members!

What Are the Benefits of Member Surveys?

Just as choosing a gift for a stranger is tough, building relationships with your members is difficult if you don’t know who they are.

A member survey is your ticket to valuable information that can help you engage your members and connect with them through personalized communication. Nonprofits with membership programs, associations, and other membership organizations send member surveys to gauge how members feel about the organization and learn what additional benefits or programs may improve their experience.

Here’s an example. If your organization has always hosted evening events and you find out through a member survey that a large percentage of members prefer daytime lunch-and-learns, you can now switch up your events strategy to suit your members’ wishes. Using member surveys strategically allows you to get the insight you need to make adjustments that can keep more of your members happy and engaged.

With a little effort and low or no cost, a member survey is a great way to discover your members’ preferences and use that knowledge to improve member retention and overall satisfaction.

5 Types of Member Surveys

There is more than one way to conduct a member survey. The type of survey you choose will depend on what information you’d like to learn about your members.

Do you want to know their personal likes and dislikes so you can better personalize gifts (and not send something they’re allergic to)? Are you interested in knowing the details of their job to help you plan professional development events? The options are plenty—have your pick from these five types of member surveys!

1. Member Satisfaction Survey

A member satisfaction survey aims to gauge how happy members are with the organization and uncover areas of strength and weakness. This type of survey asks members about their experience with the organization and their satisfaction with membership benefits and programs. Membership satisfaction surveys provide priceless information to organizations that allow them to identify areas for improvement.

2. Engagement Survey

An engagement survey helps organizations assess how involved and connected their members are. A survey like this might ask questions about how long they’ve been members, their communication preferences, how they initially heard about the organization, what makes them continue their membership, etc. With these insights, you can evaluate how you communicate with members and whether your member engagement efforts are effective.

3. Feedback Survey

Feedback surveys allow you to gather specific feedback on what your members like and dislike about your organization. The purpose of this type of survey is to learn what they think of your programs, events, communications, and more. Member feedback surveys provide insights and suggestions (and even complaints) to guide you in making membership enhancements, operational changes, and other strategic decisions.

4. Post-Event Survey

What’s worse than using time, energy, and resources to throw an event almost no one attends? Low attendance isn’t always an event marketing problem—you may not have a great understanding of your members’ needs.

A post-event survey can help you learn whether members enjoy your organization’s events. If you don’t host many events but want to learn more about your members’ event preferences, you can send a survey about events in general.

5. Personal Details Survey

This is a great one to include in your member onboarding process! Personal details surveys collect information about members to help you personalize communications, gifts, and more. Personalization makes members feel seen and helps you build deeper connections with them. In this type of survey, you’d ask questions about their personal preferences, such as their favorite restaurants or their t-shirt size.

6 Tips for Successful Member Surveys

Simply sending a member survey doesn’t guarantee that it will yield the results and information you’re hoping for. Follow a few best practices to get the most out of your member surveys.

1. Go in With Goals

Before sending your members a survey, ask yourself, “What are we hoping to achieve through this survey?” The answer will help you outline clear goals and objectives and create survey questions tailored to these ends. By establishing your goals up front, you can ensure your survey is effective and relevant. It will also result in actionable insights that will help you align your organization to your members’ needs and expectations.

2. Leave Out the Jargon

Make your member survey easy to complete by making it easy to read. If the survey is filled with confusing industry jargon and members can’t understand the questions, they may just exit before filling it out. Keep the language simple to increase the odds that they complete your survey.

3. Include Various Answer Options

Not every survey question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Give your members space to express their thoughts and ways to communicate the nuances in their feedback. A great way to do this is to include various ways to answer the survey questions, including multiple-choice, open-ended, and sliding scale options.

4. Consider Offering Incentives

Who among us hasn’t done something we weren’t jazzed about doing for the sake of a free t-shirt? Offering incentives for filling out a survey can improve the chances of this happening. The incentives don’t have to be big or expensive—organization merch or even priority seating at your next event could do the trick.

5. Allow Confidentiality

While there are advantages to having your members’ names attached to their survey answers (including the ability to follow up for more details or send a thank-you note), it may be worth it to add the option to submit answers anonymously. Anonymity often gives people the courage to be completely honest, and fully honest insight about your members’ experiences can be extremely valuable.

6. Be Mindful of the Length

In the same way that jargon can be a barrier to filling out member surveys (as mentioned in point #2), the length of a survey can also keep people from completing it. You want to eliminate as much friction and as many barriers as possible. If your members are frustrated at the number of questions and the amount of time it will take to complete the survey, your chances of getting the information you want go down. Choose your survey questions carefully and strategically, including only the most necessary ones.

40+ Member Survey Questions

Speaking of survey questions, the ones you choose will depend on the type of survey you’re sending. The examples below can help you start building your member survey, but remember, you don’t need to send out a 40-question survey to include all of these questions—they’re just options!

Member Satisfaction Survey

  • Please rate your overall satisfaction level with [Organization Name].
  • How satisfied are you with the communications you receive from [Organization Name]?
  • Are you satisfied with the frequency of communication from [Organization Name]?
  • How likely are you to recommend [Organization Name] to a friend or colleague?
  • How likely are you to renew your membership in the upcoming year?
  • How would you rate your member onboarding experience?
  • If you could only change one thing about [Organization Name] to better meet your needs and expectations, what would it be?

Member Engagement Survey

  • How many [Organization Name] events have you attended in the past year?
  • Which event did you most enjoy attending and why?
  • Which event did you least enjoy attending and why?
  • What was your favorite [Organization Name] activity in the past year? Why?
  • Have you ever volunteered with [Organization Name]?
  • How would you rate the volunteer training you received?
  • How long have you been a member of [Organization Name]?
  • How well do you understand how your membership fees are used?
  • What do you like most about your membership with [Organization Name]?
  • Which activities would you like to see more of?
  • Which activities would you prefer to see less of?

Member Feedback Survey

  • How did you initially hear about [Organization Name]?
  • What inspired you to join [Organization Name]?
  • Is there anything that makes it hard for you to fully utilize your membership benefits?
  • Do you have ideas or suggestions for new activities, member benefits, or events?
  • Is there a topic(s) or issue(s) that you believe needs to be addressed but hasn’t been?
  • What would you improve or add to [Organization Name]’s member onboarding process?
  • What would you improve or add to the membership benefits of [Organization Name]?
  • What type of social media content would you like to see from [Organization Name]?
  • What type of content would you like to see in [Organization Name]’s newsletter?
  • How satisfied are you with the communications you receive from [Organization Name]?
  • What is your preferred method of communication from [Organization Name]?
  • Is there any additional feedback you would like to share with us?

Personal Details Survey

  • How would you describe your current job?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in your career?
  • What type of resources would provide the biggest benefit for you/your career?
  • What is your preferred time of day for events?
  • Which of the following options includes your age?
  • What is your gender?
  • What is your t-shirt size?
  • Please list your favorite snacks, beverages, or treats.
  • What are your favorite restaurants in [City Name]?
  • What is the best way to contact you?

Post-Event Survey

  • What was the most valuable aspect of the event for you?
  • Did the event meet your expectations? Why or why not?
  • How likely are you to attend similar events in the future?
  • Did you encounter any difficulties or challenges during the event?
  • How would you rate the quality of the speakers/presenters?
  • How satisfied were you with the overall organization of the event?
  • What suggestions do you have for improving future events?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience at the event?
  • How far in advance of an event would you prefer to receive information?
  • Do you find it easy to navigate our website for information about events, updates, and organization activities?
  • Where do you go first for information about [Organization Name] activities, updates, and events?

Go Further with Member Retention

A member survey is just one important part of member retention. It can give you valuable insight into your members’ experiences with your organization and ways to improve, but it’s only one aspect of keeping members engaged.

Give your member retention efforts a boost with the strategies in the article below!

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