Recently, I helped my client The Institute of Biomedical Science carry out a members’ survey. We were really pleased with the 25% response rate, and they are now looking at the feedback and preparing work plans.
I thought it would be useful to share a few of the things we did, which I think helped to secure the good response rate:
- Gain Council/Board/Trustee buy-in – we were lucky that the Council were supportive of the project. In addition to approving the survey, they were also great ambassadors for the project when they were out and about talking to members.
- Choose the right supplier – if you are going to use a research company, carry out a tender to find the right supplier for you. It is amazing what different approaches and methods they will suggest. I also asked my contacts for recommendations. We ended up working with Research by Design, due to their professional body experience.
- Use the right research methods – with Research by Design’s guidance we decided on a multistage approach, which included a qualitative first step. I believe that this preparation work resulted in a well structured survey, which helped with completion rates. If you are carrying out your own survey, you could ask a few members you know to test the survey to check it flows well.
- Update your data – with 20,000 members we opted for an online survey as a postal survey would have been prohibitively expensive. We carried out a project beforehand to update as many email addresses as we could, to ensure our emailed survey link reached as many members as possible.
- Tell your members – we communicated with the members before and during the project, and we are now starting to feedback the survey findings to them. We also use a variety of methods (online, offline and social media) to reach them. It was important to us that all members saw the message about the survey and were encouraged to take part.
The key to any survey is to ask the right questions and then importantly to use the results to improve services for members. It is great to see staff and the Council at the IBMS so enthused about the results.