Your membership collectively holds all the information you need to gauge the health of your industry. The key is to gather that information, analyze it, and present it to members in a way that makes them feel both comfortable and confident. A great obstacle, however, lies between the association and the information.
Association members famously shy away from sharing private company information directly with the association. Most often, the reason is a misplaced perception that the association will not or cannot keep their information confidential. How can an association overcome this challenge?
- Impartiality—Confront the myth head-on by engaging an independent third-party survey firm to collect and process the data. A company with experience in data analysis and with associations is ideal.
- Anonymity—Allow members to respond anonymously to the survey. They cannot be identified individually because data is measured by region and business sector, not by company.
- Code the Surveys—Use a coding system that masks the members company information. This is especially important when collecting highly confidential data, yet the members expect a customized report containing their information compared to industry peers.
- Internet—Some members may still feel more comfortable when mailing or faxing their survey responses. However, online surveys have a more anonymous feel to them and should be encouraged among members.
- Communication—Let participants know exactly who will handle and see their survey responses. Limit the number of people involved in the process, and explain how data will be secured and stored.
As an association, you want to provide the best tools, services, and support to your members. At the same time, you must consider the budget, the board, and the capacity of your staff. Providing your members with a confidential and useful new business-planning tool is a click away with Industry Barometer Reports.