As an alumni chapter leader, we’d always like to know what’s on the minds of our alumni. What kind of events they’d like to see, how they would like to be engaged with the University’s mission and so on. Since it isn’t possible to speak with everyone, surveys and polls can be useful tools to get this information.
Why Create Club Surveys
Club surveys can be used to ask your alumni for help by giving them a voice in decisions about the future of the club. They can also be used to engage your alumni by asking fun questions that relate to your school or community. Other reasons to create surveys include:
- Start a conversation – sometimes you just need to get people talking about a topic. A short survey or poll can frame up the question and start a dialogue.
- Uncover information – trying to get to the bottom of an issue (like “why wasn’t our last alumni fundraiser well attended?”). Using an anonymous survey can help find the root causes and identify issues that you may not know about.
- Generate new ideas – I see a lot of the same people at our events which means I hear a lot of the same ideas. A survey can reach other demographics in the club which can generate new ideas.
What To Do With the Results
First, use them! If you ask for responses, you must take some action on them. Those actions can be:
- Share the responses (anonymously, of course!) – share what you’ve learned with your alumni. (See above graphic as an example of what you can include on your social media, website or in an email to your alumni)
- Let your alumni know how the club will use their responses – if folks take the time to respond, they probably would like to know what’s happened to those responses. Let them know what will happen as a result of their feedback. This will encourage future responses to your surveys!
- Reach out to specific responders and let them know they’ve been heard – this can be useful if they’ve provided really helpful feedback or very negative feedback
One last word on this topic. Following up on survey results is so important! It will lay the foundation for the success of your future surveys. You must do something with those results and let your alumni know about it.
Setting Up Your Survey
These days there are so many survey tools available and they are free. Most take only a few minutes to create and they’ll store your data in an easy to access format. For the purposes of this post, I’ll share the most common tools but know that there are many and your university may have additional options available to you outside of these (just ask them). Some of my favorites are:
- Twitter poll
- Facebook Group poll
- Google Forms
Polls vs Surveys
You’ll notice in the list above that some are polls. What’s a poll? A poll is a one-question survey, basically. You’ll ask a single question and offer a few possible responses that your group will respond to. If you need to collect more information the survey format is the better option for you.
Twitter allows you to create single question polls very easily. Check out this short GIF on how to do that. The poll option is baked into the tweet status field. Just select the poll icon and start typing your question and possible answers! For maximum impact, post the poll when your target audience is most active on Twitter (M-F 9a – 5p in whatever time zone you’re in). Your followers will be able to see the responses which may encourage more folks to participate.
Facebook Polls are similar to Twitter Polls. They are one-question survey that you post to your Facebook Group Page. Please note that these are only available if you have a Facebook Group Page (not a business page). The other great thing about Facebook Polls on Group pages is that you can now schedule them to post at times that make sense for audience. You’ll be able to see the results of the poll on your Facebook page.
Check out my short GIF to see how to setup this poll and schedule it.
Google Forms is a simple, free form building tool that will allow you to create a survey and share it in an email, social media post or on a website. Google Forms is the right tool to use if you have more than one question to ask in your survey. In my post Starting Your Alumni Chapter Email List I showed you how to use Google Forms to create a email sign up form. Well, I’ve also just created a tutorial to show you how to create a simple survey!
There are other survey tools out there (such as SurveyMonkey, a favorite of mine). SurveyMonkey in particular has a “freemium” version (a free account that will give you access to some features) that you can use to create, share and view your results.
Polls and surveys are a great way to engage your alumni and find out what they would like from your chapter. Use them regularly to stay in touch with them!