Measuring the Value of Society Membership

New interactive dashboard tool helps gauge satisfaction with products and services

20 October 2016

Leaders of IEEE societies can get more insight into how satisfied their members are by checking the online Society Performance Dashboard. With this new tool, society leaders can dive into the results of their survey that has been asking members to gauge the importance of—and their satisfaction with—their society benefits, including whether they believe membership helps them grow in their careers and advance their profession.

The dashboard’s features not only provide societies with more data about their members, but responses can be compared in a number of ways—by age, region, and member grade, for example—and by how societies compare to one another.

“We want to better understand how members see the value of society membership, and learn what their needs are in greater detail,” says IEEE Senior Member Bruce Hecht, chair of the IEEE Technical Activities Ad Hoc Committee on the Analysis of Technical Member Benefits, which shepherded the dashboard’s development.

“The interactive dashboard will allow society leaders to go beyond what could be learned from a single society’s survey report to take better informed action from what they learn,” Hecht says.

MAKING SENSE OF DATA

The dashboard is an interactive way to share the results of the 2015 survey conducted by all 39 IEEE societies. More than 17,000 respondents answered 35 survey questions, weighing such factors as the likelihood they’ll renew their membership, value for the price, importance for professional growth, and overall satisfaction with belonging to the society. Members graded the questions on a scale of 1 to 5, checking 5 when they most strongly agreed with a statement. Other questions included reasons for joining the society, such as continuing education, professional networking, and volunteer opportunities.

“Society leaders might see their society scored 3.5 in overall satisfaction, but how do they know whether that’s high or low if they don’t compare themselves to others?” Hecht says.

The dashboard also can help leaders evaluate the effectiveness of a society’s offerings. That can help them decide which programs to expand and which to change.

The results might show that one type of member is more interested in one benefit over another. For example, considering interest in career resources by age might show that younger members are more engaged than more seasoned members, who might care more about access to technical resources.

And looking at the results by region might underline a couple of obvious conclusions: that members in Region 10 (Asia and Pacific) prefer different kinds of products and services than those in Regions 1–7 (USA and Canada), and members in academia have different professional development needs than those in industry.

Besides helping to answer the questions asked, Hecht says, the dashboard can raise additional ones. For example, one survey question asked how important it was for members to make a positive impact in their field. The grade was higher among the 21 to 34 age group than others. But that raises a question: “Does that result mean it’s because they’re young, or because making a difference in the work they do is something that is a priority specifically for this generation?” Hecht asks. The survey results could lead to important starting points for strategic conversations, he says.

In the next few years, he points out, enough data will be collected to provide an idea of how members’ needs have changed over time. For instance, attending conferences may be desirable now but live-streaming events might become more important in the future.

To get access to the Society Performance Dashboard, email Dena Hoffman, society products project manager for IEEE Technical Activities. 

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