Let’s Get Critical: 8 Things to Take Away from an Association Exit Survey

Categories: Association Leadership, Association Operations, Chambers of Commerce, Finance and Operational Efficiency, Membership Sales and Retention

Obviously no one loves hearing negative things about themselves or a group they’re passionate about. Let’s be honest, it just feels better when everyone is in sync. But alas, living in that friendly bubble isn’t very challenging…and in order to grow, we need to be challenged!

That being said, we’re going to turn a negative into a positive! When a member decides to leave your organization, what do you do about it? Say you’re sorry to hear that and send them on their merry way? No! Ask for their help, just one last time, and have them complete an Association Exit Survey. It’s important they know that you value their opinion, even if their membership didn’t work out.

Consider asking some or all of these questions:

1. Why did you decide not to renew your membership?

You’re like – “Duhhh, Colleen. Of course we’d ask this,” but the answer may surprise you! Was their decision based on one single thing, or do they have a number of reasons? Or perhaps you already made a guess, and that wasn’t it at all.

2. When did you decide not to renew your membership?

Asking this question will give you some insight into how well you’re engaging your newest members, and where you may be losing people along the way. Find where there’s room to strengthen these weak points on your member engagement timeline.

3. What would have made your membership more beneficial?

Now you can start getting into the specifics. You probably won’t jump to make a change just based on one ex-member’s opinion, but after a few surveys are conducted you’ll start to see some patterns that you can build from.

4. What did you gain from your membership?

SURELY it wasn’t all bad, right? Find out what they enjoyed and look for patterns here, too. Capitalize on what you are doing right. Do more of what people enjoy, and promote those events or programs more to your existing members (as it makes sense).

5. Did you feel comfortable approaching members of the leadership team? Why or why not?

My guess is if you didn’t see their exit coming, probably not. Use these answers to inform your “Contact Us” strategy, and consider options for allowing members to submit feedback to you anonymously (if you don’t already).

6. How would you describe the overall culture of the organization?

Are you being perceived how you want to be, even by your own members? It can be eye-opening and refreshing to hear these opinions, especially when they turn out not to be in line with your goals.

7. Would you recommend us to friends and colleagues?

So maybe being a member didn’t work out for them, personally – but what about their other connections? If the answer is yes, ask them for a few names before you lose contact! Who knows, maybe their friends joining would cause them to re-join. Which brings me to my final point…

8. What would encourage you to re-join?

Make sure they know that they’re always welcome back, no matter their answers! Keep a running list of ex-members, their contact information and their answers to this question so you can reach back out right away.

Pro tip: set up your survey using a free online tool, like Survey Monkey, that they can complete in their own time. Conducting an online, open-ended survey will hopefully make your soon-to-be ex-member feel comfortable giving detailed answers that you can learn from!

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