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What our membership survey told us about how we can better support you

14 May 2021

“Survey and test a prospective action before undertaking it. Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse.” Epictetus

We conduct a big membership and events survey each year and we’d like to say a big thank you to the 167 members who completed our 2021 edition. We’re sharing some of the main results so we can let you know what many of you view as your main membership benefits, and how you feel that we can improve on what we’re offering.

Who you are

At 41%, the majority of those who responded have been with us as members for four or more years (up from 26% in 2020). 63% told us they are part of an organisational membership, 12% are working as a sole comms person, or as part of a small team, and 15% of you work as freelancers and have an individual membership.

The largest proportion of members (38%) stated their role as manager or lead, up slightly from 35% in 2020. The largest proportion (37%) work at a medium sized charity with 11-100 employees (43% in 2020), with 18% working at a small charity with 1-10 people on the whole team. This is an increase of 7% of those working at small charities from our 2020 survey, which makes sense, given that we partnered with the Small Charities Coalition to welcome 50 new small charities to our network last year. As a result, we’ve created a small charities resources page to help signpost more relevant content to those working at small charities.

For the first time, we asked you to let us know how you interact with us. Encouragingly, more than half (54%) of you told us you are engaged, familiar with CharityComms and our community, and eager to attend events and make connections. 26% of you said you are new(ish) members, have not attended many events yet and are just finding out about what we have to offer, while19% of you told us you would like more ways to engage (either yourself or your team) and develop professionally or demonstrate ROI.

For those who are quite new to CharityComms who are looking to make the most of your membership we’d recommend:

  • Joining special interest groups so that you’re the first to hear about what’s going on and can book straight away for upcoming events.
  • Building your charity’s media contacts and coverage by signing up for AskCharity.
  • Join our online community to ask questions and connect with other members.

What you value

Many of the membership benefits listed as being most important were very similar to last year, including online events (98%), free seminars (96%), learning from best practice (96%), access to practical guidance and tools online (96%), and new ideas and inspiration (92%), with 70% listing our mentoring scheme as their most important benefit.

“The mentoring scheme is amazing, and a huge support for me and my team. The conferences are great quality. And I’ve really valued the opportunity to connect with others at senior lead level this year through the senior leaders call.”

The idea of being part of an active network and working toward a common goal saw an increase on 2020, with networking with other comms professionals featuring highly at 91% (up from 81% in 2020), and 64% citing being part of improving comms in the sector (up from 53% in 2020).

“[I like] being part of something that is improving my own knowledge and professional practice, at the same time as improving the profession as a whole and making a difference to the sector.”

We are always working on ways to make sure that everyone is aware of all of their benefits and how they can make the most of their membership. The number of people who said that they know about our Digital Benchmark increased by 8% on last year, as did the number of those who are aware of our mentoring scheme, while the percentage of those who know about AskCharity increased by 10%, as did the number telling us that they are aware of our downloadable best practice guides and resources (up to 87% of respondents). We’ve started a new #MembershipMonday promotion on social media to make sure that new and existing members are reminded of the full range of their membership benefits.

86% of people said they would recommend CharityComms to others working in the sector (an increase of 5% from last year).

“It’s accessible and friendly – no sense of needing to ‘be something I’m not’ in order to participate.”

How you prefer to view content

78% of members told us that they have attended an online event with us since the start of the pandemic, with 13% saying they had accessed live transcription and 52% stating that they have viewed on-demand event content.

“Whenever I leave an event (online or in person), I feel fired up about engaging others and creating worthwhile content, as well as more enthusiastic about my current job role specifically.”

67% of members told us that they have 1-2 hours a week on average to engage with pre-recorded content, with 28% saying they have no time at all. Time pressures were also cited in a reason for possibly not renewing membership, with 25% saying that they do not have time to access membership benefits (up from 17% in 2020).

“I’m exhausted by Zoom and don’t want to stare at my screen listening to people anymore. I would rather download information and read it. Or access short YouTube films.”

“I’ve actually found it easier to engage online as don’t have to juggle travel/childcare/loss of income as a freelancer.”

As with all things, what some people find more engaging, others would prefer something else, so we are looking at ways we can make all members more aware of our on-demand offering, as well making it easier to plan how you access and view our events and content. That includes an online calendar of events that we’re working on.

Your top themes and topics

77% of respondents told us that they would like us to include additional training and workshops on specific topics. The top four topics listed as being most helpful for us to include to specifically support our audiences were brand (49%), digital (45%), PR (39%) and social media (37%).

87% of members feel that our frequency of communications is about right, with 10% saying they do not hear from us often enough. 78% listed eNews as their preferred method of communication, with special interest group emails listed as the second most valued communication, at 53%.

“I really appreciate the regular communication. This means I don’t miss out on what’s happening. The email that alerted me to this survey included a round-up of on-demand content currently available to me; this is excellent communication.”

What else we can offer

At CharityComms we believe in continually adapting and developing to best meet the needs of what you, our members need.  You told us that “this is always more than can be done to raise the profile of comms within organisations, particularly so leaders view it as a strategic function, but this is as much about a culture change in those organisations as it is something CharityComms can influence” – if there are specific things we can help you with around this then do let us know.

Other suggestions you made for how we can improve what we offer included showcasing small charities more and highlighting specialist roles such as internal comms at bigger conferences. Providing practical templates and offering more networking opportunities also featured, so we are looking at more ways to deliver these and more. In the meantime check out what we have to offer on our Small Charities Resources page and catch up on our latest internal comms event on-demand.

“The team clearly work really hard to do what’s right for the sector and I really appreciate that. The platform you provide for shared learning in a neutral space, digital or online, is priceless to organisations big and small. And I genuinely believe you are fantastic value for the membership cost. Thank you!”

Image: Olya Kobruseva on Pexels

Sarah Clarke

head of membership, CharityComms

Sarah is the Head of membership at CharityComms. She's dedicated to growing and improving the membership experience for our fantastic network of charity communicators. Previously, Sarah worked in marketing and membership roles for a variety of arts and education organisations in the UK and the US. She is a trustee of the Dance Professionals Fund and is part of the comms group for Charities Against Hate.