Trillium Member Satisfaction Survey: Diving into the Numbers – Part 1

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Trillium Member Satisfaction Survey: Diving into the Numbers – Part 1
Gerald Bramm, President of Bramm Research

In the early summer of 2013 the Trillium Chapter undertook an online member survey. Our goal was to obtain feedback on the professional development and educational opportunities that are offered to members through various chapter events and information services. We were delighted by the rich pool of information that we obtained. We’ve taken a number of deep dives into the numbers and each time we do we are rewarded with fresh insights.

Most importantly, we want to thank all those members who responded to our survey. Given the demands on your time we are grateful for your feedback and all of your ideas and observations. All recommendations are being discussed, considered or are already in the works.

The following represents just a few selected observations. Our comments focus exclusively on feedback from executive members. In part 2, scheduled for the next edition of Forum, we’ll dive into other topics and look at the feedback from our business members. 

Survey Content
By way of a background, the questionnaire focused on member participation and evaluation of various Trillium Chapter resources. Specifically we asked about:

  • Usage and suggested improvements relating to the tools that the chapter uses to communicate with members;
  • Participation in events e.g. summits, professional development and special events and suggested improvements;
  • Awareness, participation and recommended improvements to other programs e.g. the Trillium Gives Back Scholarship Program and the Awards and Recognition Program.

Communicating with Trillium Chapter Members
The two primary communication tools used by the chapter are the quarterly FORUM e-newsmagazine and the weekly e-newsletter.  Both are read always or sometimes by almost 90% of executive members. The challenge is to move readers from the sometimes category into the always camp. Fortunately, members were forthcoming in their suggestions for topics of interest.

Importantly some respondents told us that they had problems navigating FORUM. This feedback led us to change the format as of the April 2014 issue. Members also asked us to look at the frequency of the weekly e-newsletter.  We are now delivering this content to your mailbox weekly or bi-weekly.

In our efforts to dive deeper into the numbers we thought it would be interesting to look at the results based on how long respondents have been CSAE members. Consequently we looked at those who have been members for less than five years versus those who have been members for more than five years. Although there isn’t a perfect correlation, many of our newer members are also younger members. Clearly understanding and meeting the needs of younger members is becoming a priority as boomer members move into retirement.

Regarding our communication efforts, we see that in comparison to more seasoned members, those who have been members for a shorter period of time are less aware of various Trillium communication tools. Clearly the challenge is to improve awareness of these tools amongst these newer members.  This, in turn, will result in greater usage.

Summer and Winter Summits
Slightly more than one-third of members have attended either a winter or summer summit in the past three years. A core group (10%) of members have been to all of the past three summer summits. Clearly there is considerable potential to attract a larger audience. What are the barriers? Almost half say that the key barrier is a financial one. Other reasons included geographic challenges and lack of interest in the topics being addressed.

Again we see a marked difference between our newer versus more experienced members in terms of attendance with newer members far less likely to have attended a conference in the past three years. It is apparent that providing compelling reasons to attend and overcoming barriers is the key challenge for us in attracting this newer member group. With this challenge in mind, we’ve heard that the education program for the 2014 Summer Summit is the best group of sessions yet.  If your barrier in the past has been a lack of interest in the topics being addressed, please take a moment to check out the program line-up for 2014.

Professional Development Events
Fifty-seven percent of executive members have attended at least one PDX event over the past 12 months. That leaves an untapped potential 43% of members who have not attended an event in this time period. With regards to our split between newer and more experienced members, we seem to do a pretty good job of attracting the newer members to these educational events. The challenge is to move those attending only one event a year into a higher attendance category.

A lack of interest in the topics presented deterred a third of members from attending an educational event. Other dominant reasons for not attending included time constraints and geographic challenges. We anticipated that these issues would be mentioned so we asked respondents about their interest in webinars. Seventy-eight percent stated that they were interested in this concept. It’s worth noting that this interest was even higher amongst our newer members. We are currently assessing how webinars can fit into our current education offerings.

The Volunteer Effect
One of the other data dives that we undertook was to look at survey respondents by those who have volunteered with the Trillium chapter versus those who have not.

It is evident that respondents with volunteer experience tend to be more engaged based on participation and satisfaction with our communication and educational activities. For example, we note that 59% of those with volunteer experience have attended at least one summer summit in the past three years versus 29% of non-volunteers.  The question remains, do engaged members become volunteers or do volunteers become more engaged members? It’s a chicken and egg issue. All that we can say at this point is that there appears to be a correlation but it’s unclear what comes first.  However, the lesson is clear. Encouraging more members to volunteer will be of benefit to the chapter.

In the next issue, we’ll look at other survey topics including feedback from our business members.

Gerald Bramm is the President of Bramm Research. He is a member of the Trillium Chapter and conducts research on their behalf. His areas of interest include member engagement surveys and the creation of knowledge products on behalf of associations. For more information you may reach Gerald at 905-465-3578, email at [email protected] or on the web at

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