Our Observations

National and Membership Surveys Provide Critical Data for Future Decisions

Author Jim Collins popularized the concept of data-driven decisions in his groundbreaking book “Good to Great.” While his research and recommendations targeted the business community, his philosophy for the nation’s nonprofits, associations and foundations to keep at the forefront of their actions.

Our observation is that many groups often make decisions regarding their membership based on instincts alone. It’s reasonable to assume that officers and staff have a good feel for what members need and want. However, having data to back up those decisions can lead to more targeted actions and more engaged communications with members.

One of the best ways to collect data to help make decisions is through membership surveys. Many groups can’t create a profile of their members because they don’t have baseline data to make accurate assumptions. A regular survey every one or two years helps establish benchmarks and monitor trends and changes within the membership, and provide clues on what they need. That survey instrument, though, needs to be created and scrutinized for its value, making sure to collect essential and reflective information that will set baselines and identify trends.

Recently, At Last Communications released a survey for the National Association of Government Communicators, and collected data on who people are in the industry, their work conditions and the type of work they conduct on a daily basis. Data from that survey was compared to one conducted a few years earlier to give officers and staff a better idea of its members and now can tailor services and information that is more targeted and specialized. We'll discuss more about that survey in the weeks ahead.

This data gives the organization a better sense of its membership — as well as potential members — and will help NAGC tailor its messages and marketing in the next few years. Shouldn’t your organization have a better sense of your membership and potential members?

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