Report on Membership Questionnaire 2010
Last summer members were asked to complete a questionnaire. The Standing Committee wished to find out more about the membership, and its views on the Society's activities and possible changes or extensions to these. This was the first time such a wide-ranging survey had been conducted by the Society. The Committee was highly gratified by the response from members and grateful to those who took the trouble to complete the forms. Here, as promised, is a report on the survey.
One hundred and twenty-eight replies were received, exactly 40% of the membership. Most were from a single member, but nine were completed jointly by a member and an associate member. Few respondents answered all the questions, so the totals given, and the percentages, are for the number who responded to each question.
As expected, the majority of members are over 60 years of age. There were no replies from members under 25 and only three between 25 and 39. There were two students, 33 working and the remainder retired. Men outnumbered women by 67 to 47.
A majority of respondents had been members for more than ten years, and twelve had joined within the last twelve months. The majority (78) were Ordinary members, whilst 26 had Ordinary and Record membership, and 15 had Ordinary and Associate membership.
Importance of Society activities to Members
Respondents were asked to score various aspects of the Society with the importance to them of each item, on a range from zero (no importance) to 5 (most important). This should indicate what members feel that they are getting for their money.
Based on replies giving the top two ratings - 4 and 5 (see table) - members rate the Newsletter as the most important part of their membership. Ranked next and still very highly come the Transactions, lectures and making representation on Nottinghamshire's heritage. The other activities/publications - excursions, meeting other members, Record Series, the AGM and the Annual Luncheon are grouped closely together as somewhat less important to members as a whole.
NB these figures are not a comment on how well the Society undertakes these activities. That is dealt with below under the individual activities.
|Activity/publication||No: rating most or very important||% of all those replying|
Almost all respondents (96%) regarded the Transactions as 'excellent' or 'good'. One fifth read all the articles, and almost 60% read 'most of them'. A number of respondents made suggestions as to a variety of topics which might be covered in future issues.
Opinion of the newsletter was very high, with 94% rating excellent or good. There was a suggestion that the Newsletter could include more local history news.
Only 29% of respondents were subscribers to the Record Series, but most rated it excellent or good. A number of respondents, who do not take the Records Series, stated that they referred to Record Series books in libraries or the Archives, several had sufficient reading material so did not subscribe, and one member had run out of shelf space! However, several new members knew nothing about the Record Series.
Lectures are seen as one of the most important parts of the Society's 'offering' to members - see Table. Some 70% of those replying have been to at least one lecture in the last year. As to their quality, the lectures are given a ringing endorsement by members with 97% rating them as good or excellent. The reasons given for not attending (more) lectures in order of importance were: travel difficulty, venue or time inconvenient; topics not of interest; work; other activities.
Comments were few and to no clear pattern. But a significant minority (27 out of 83 replies) would like to see lectures continuing through the summer.
Excursions are seen as less important than lectures, for example. Nevertheless the response at 96 replies was still high (lectures 119) Most respondents (91%) felt that the number of excursions was about right and almost everyone rated them excellent or good. Comments, when not laudatory, were largely of an administrative nature.
AGM and Luncheon
Half of those responding to the questionnaire attended neither event. Of the half that did, virtually all attended the AGM, with fewer attending the luncheon. Reasons for not attending were mainly inconvenience of travel, time or place, with a quarter giving lack of interest. Expense is not seen as a problem. Members are overwhelmingly satisfied with the formats and only one comment was made.
Possibility of a research project
Over half the members who responded to this question (56 out of 94) were in favour of this suggestion. The most popular formats were a group activity at set times (24 responses) and individually with occasional meetings (26 responses). Many were interested in using their computers for research.
Other activities that the Society could offer
There were only 10 answers to this question, with only local history courses appearing more than once. Others included visits to the National Archives at Kew in conjunction with Sue Clayton; an annual summer garden party; walks or rambles with a historical link; and visits to archaeological digs.
Overall opinion of the Society
Almost all respondents rated the Society as excellent (48%) or good (48%).
Suggested changes or improvements to the Society
24 comments were received. Some are full of praise, and the only comment to recur was the need for more younger members.
Acknowledgement: I am most grateful to our Treasurer John Wilson for his help in analysing the replies and producing this report.
John Hamilton, Membership Secretary.