Members surveys

Value of member surveys

The information provided by a well-designed member survey is a valuable input into the process of planning programs and services to be offered by the organisation. Member surveys enable the organisation's management to identify where there are potential problems in service delivery and whether programs meet the needs and expectations of the membership. Furthermore member surveys also provide management with a chance to test new ideas and gauge the likelihood of success.

Sample survey design

The following links provide access to an actual survey implemented in a soccer club. Section A of this survey is to gain simple demographic data about the membership. The usefulness of this section will be explained below. Section B of the survey is mostly about gauging members opinions about coaching, facilities, events and communication.

Download an example member survey form
Size 942Kb


Download survey results
Size 118Kb

Survey crosstabs

Sometimes the initial analysis of survey responses does not tell you much. In the survey results above, Q7. "The quality of coaching meets with your expectations" provided the result:

  • 70% Agree or Strongly Agree; and
  • 30$ Disagree or Unsure

On the face of it, the committee might be quite happy that the overwhelming majority of membership are satisfied with coaching. But this analysis might miss an important point. Cross tabbing is when the results of one question are analysed against the results of another.

In the following case, the question on satisfaction is analysed against the player age/gender groups within the club.

Member survey example about coaching satisfaction

In the above example shows that the discontent is greatest in the Under 6-8 age group. This information might be missed without "cross tabbing".

Therefore all surveys should include some basic demographic data such as age or age group.

Type of survey questions

Many surveys and questionnaires fail to deliver the information that is required. Often much data is collected which in the end is very difficult to analyse effectively. In a survey conducted by a high profile basketball club on its spectator supporters, one question asked was:

How many games did you attend last season?

This seems simple and straightforward enough? Surely it is just a case of filling in a number? Indeed many survey respondents did state a specific number. However, others responded such as "Almost all", "Most", "Half", "All but two" etc. If a substantial number of survey respondents answer this question in this way then summarising the information becomes time consuming and the result is relatively difficult to analyse..

Perhaps the question should have been asked as follows:

Question: How many games did you attend last season? (cross only one box)

Did not attend last season
Attended 1- 5 games last season
Attended 5 - 9 games last season
Attended 10 games of more

It is now possible to summarise answers to the question easily. Moreover it is now possible to place customers into discreet categories and this information can be very useful when looking at answers to other questions.

Survey Rules

So are there some simple rules to follow when designing a survey? The answer is "yes"!

RULE 1 What is the survey for?

This seems like a very basic concept but actually, it is worth a second thought. When designing a survey it is important to work backwards i.e. determine the information you need, and then design the questions to obtain this information.

For example, the management of the organisation might wish to better understand what new customers are looking for when they join the organisation. One of many possible questions that may be asked is as follows:


Question: Which of the following represents the main reason you joined this organisation? (Cross only one box)

Increase fitness and health
Participate in competitive sport
Learn new skills
Develop new social contacts
Other (please state)

The answer to this type of question might help the management committee to develop programs that suit the need of new members, and furthermore the information may assist in the development of promotional materials.

RULE 2 Collect demographic data about survey respondents

Age, sex, marital status and place of residence are all forms of demographic data that we are used to completing on forms, and with good reason. It is very important to understand the different views of males and females, or young and old, or employed and not employed. Knowing and understanding such differences helps to improve services for particular groups of people.

See more information on Demographics

RULE 3 Collect DISCREET Data

Surveys should collect data that can be simply analysed and summarised. For example, consider a question such as:

What is your age?

Such a question may be answered in ways that increase the difficulty of analysis:

Possible answers: 14 years 2 months, 25½, over 55. These answers are examples of continuous data.

For ease of data analysis such a question should be accompanied by a range of possible answers:

What is your age?

  Less than 15 years
  15 - 24 years
  25 - 34 years
  35 - 44 years
  45 - 54 years
  Over 55 years
The survey respondent is now required to tick the age category that is appropriate. This is an example of collecting discreet data.

RULE 4 Define terms

Analysis of results may be rendered worthless unless terms are clearly defined for the survey respondent. For example, there may be a need to know how the needs of new customers differ from existing customers. In such a case there must be a definition of a "new customer" and "existing customer". Is a new customer someone who signed up last week or is it anyone who signed up less than one year ago? Definitions are clearly required here.


  • New member is a person who joined the organisation in the 12 months previous to completion of this survey.
  • Existing member is a person who has been a member of this organisation for 12 months or more before completing this survey.

RULE 5 Determine your techniques for analysing and summarising answers

Supposing you have 300 survey respondents and each survey has 30 questions! It is extremely important that the survey is not constructed without a thought about dealing with the sheer volume of answers. In such a situation it is worthwhile constructing a database into which surveys are inputted, analysed and summarised. The database should be constructed at the same time as survey questions are being formulated. This reduces the risk of questions that are difficult to analyse.

RULE 6 Determine the number of respondents that would constitute a valid sample population

It may be possible to survey all members or all participants. However a very large number of participants may be too expensive and time consuming to survey. In fact, reliable results may be achieved by surveying only a small number of the total population provided certain rules are observed. The number of people surveyed is called the sample population.

Where only a sample population will be surveyed it is best to consult someone with abilities in statistics. They will need to determine the size of the sample population and how it is selected from the total population.


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