I frequently hear associations asking how they can get their members and customers to provide more demographic information to the association. For example, I’ll hear “How can we get our members to provide us their organization’s staff size?” or “We’d like to know the ethnic make up of our members. How can we ask for that information without offending people?”
My answer is the same for both questions: “Tell them why it’s worth it to them to provide that information to you.” If you can’t explain it quickly and easily, and in a way that will make the customer say “Oh, that makes sense, here’s the information,” then you’re not going to get very much cooperation.
Too frequently, the answer from associations is “This would be interesting to know.” But that’s not compelling enough to make people answer. You have to determine how providing this information will benefit the respondent, not the association.
This thought process is similar for surveys, by the way. As it happens, I hate taking surveys. I’m simply not going to give anyone 15 minutes of my time to answer questions that I’m pretty sure will not change my life one bit (other than to take 15 minutes of my time, which I can never get back).
On the other hand, I will often answer one-question surveys, because they’re very quick, and I can see from the question exactly what the questionner is trying to learn. I can decide very quickly if I think providing this information will provide value to me.
So when you go asking for more information, make sure you communicate to the respondent why it’s in their best interest to provide that information.
“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”
“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan
“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”
Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance