Making Information Meaningful

Member organisations

ASR conducts research of members of professional or common interest organisations. Objectives of this type of research are often exploratory and may also focus on overall satisfaction and ideas for improvement. Conducting member surveys is a way of canvassing views from all members and not just squeaky wheels or those who have strong ties to office bearers. One of the challenges of member research is to ensure representativeness which means knowing the current profile of members across a number of demographics (so that response and population profiles can be compared).

Types of member research that ASR has conducted recently include:

  • Census of a new professional group (who worked where, background and education, salary, training and reasons for joining / leaving the profession)
  • Member satisfaction with current board, regulatory and insurance issues, training and retirement plans, as well as the diary for a typical day/week
  • Proposed merger between two industry peak bodies and member’s reactions to their own and the other potential organisation (the merger didn’t happen!)
  • University alumni and their views on philanthropy, as well as updating current details
  • Obtaining views of and extent of scientific collaboration in the social sciences community
  • Administering an online membership poll on proposed changes to the constitution of a medical college

Clients use their member information for a wide range of purposes: from designing new initiatives to changing strategic direction, or simply to understand more fully who they represent and to use this when presenting views to other organisations / agencies or when communicating with members.

Membership organisations cater to a select groups of people where the relevance of the organisation’s activities, professionalism and perceived value of membership is under regular scrutiny by members. Having an understanding of these and other sensitivities can make or break a successful research outcome. Further challenges in conducting research for membership organisations include:

  • Risk of generating negative reactions from the membership base by including or, indeed, excluding particular topics in the research or simply spending money on doing research.
  • Inadvertently creating a perception of bias about how subject matter under investigation will be handled. In other words, being criticised for appearing to pay lip service to an issue.
  • Appearing to disguise an ulterior motive in the stated objectives of a particular research project. Members may ask “What are they really going to do with the information I provide?” or “That’s what they say, but why are they really doing this?”
  • Considerate handling of issues that have had traditionally divided members.
  • Avoiding perceived divergence from an organisation’s mission or values.

ASR consultants understand the importance of being seen to be operating professionally and ethically as well as actually doing so. Ethical behaviour is paramount to the integrity of the brand of any member organisation or any public or private business for that matter. Market and social researchers are no different and so we must adhere to strict ethical and professional standards, as well as obey the law that governs our behaviour, such as the National Privacy Act. Proper identification of potential trouble spots and their handling, minimisation or prevention through clear communication is an area of expertise we bring to our clients’ projects.