2016 Member Survey Results

Every two years we poll our members to find out what's working and where we can improve. Read this blog to find out what we learned.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 20, 2016
2016 Member Survey Results
SIG Practice on Mt. St. Helens. Photo by Ida Vincent.

In early 2016, we invited our members to participate in a membership survey. We wanted learn about their perceptions, activities, and experiences with our club. We compared these responses with survey data from 2011 and 2014 to track patterns showing how we’ve grown and changed, and to identify opportunities to improve. 

Nearly 2,000 members responded to our survey. It translated to a response rate of 23%, which may seem low at first glance, but is 4-times greater than the industry average of 2-5%. We also reached out to guest members and former-Mountaineers to learn why people don't join and why they leave. We were pleased to get so much feedback. 

On a very high level, the member survey showed us two things:

  1. The Mountaineers organization is highly valued by a majority of members, with satisfaction levels maintaining the marked improvement seen in the 2014 survey. 
  2. We have opportunities to better serve our members through continued focus on diversity, improving processes and transparency to remove "red tape", and increasing course and activity offerings to give people even more opportunities to explore the outdoors, improve skills, and protect the places where we play. 

The most exciting thing to come out of this survey is  the consistently high rate of member satisfaction. Members today indicate they are 20% more satisfied with The Mountaineers than they were in 2011

A few more interesting learnings:

  • In 2014, our membership was 94% 'white'. Today, we are 87% 'white', which doesn't match the 2010 Seattle Census Data of 74% in this area, but it's a step in the right direction.
  • Our members show a significant improvement when it comes to a positive experience with our website, where 84% of people say they are 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied'. 
  • We've had a big surge in membership in the last year, growing from 10,400 in January 2014 to 11,350 in January 2016. As a result, 23% of the people who took the 2016 survey had been members for less than a year, vs. 16% in 2014.
  • Members want more! More classes, more activities, more stewardship opportunities, and more chances to volunteer.
  • Volunteers remain more satisfied than members, and more likely to renew and recommend our club. The number one reason they renew? To continue the lifelong friendships made in The Mountaineers. 

Bonus Feedback

At the end of our survey we asked “Do you have anything else you want to say about The Mountaineers?” In most surveys, 0.005% of people fill this out. Well, not at The Mountaineers! We had 715 responses – a whopping 40% response rate. Some comments were positive, some were negative, and all were helpful insights for our organization. 

We learned we have a lot of support for additional program centers, specifically in Everett, South Seattle, and Wenatchee. We also had a few shout-outs from folks in Oregon, Idaho, California, and Texas! 

We also learned our biggest opportunity area lies in being more welcoming to people who come to us with outside experience. Because The Mountaineers invented the early techniques off of which modern-day exploration skills are based, we tend to hold-tight to the past and continue to do things which have always worked well for us. Finding a balance between safety and inclusion is the key for the future.

Our volunteer activity leaders are working together to make it easier to earn an equivalency. Each new member is a potential future volunteer, and creating space for outside experience will only benefit the future of our club.

Key Takeaways

Overall, the survey validated what we’ve been working toward with our strategic plan: building a more diverse community, continuing to improve our website technology, offering better volunteer support, and creating a welcoming space with lots of opportunity to get outside and connect.

We are making progress on the diversity front, specifically through our Mountain Workshops program, and our highest level leadership is discussing the importance of this topic at Board Retreats and Advisory Council Meetings. We have built and continue to make improvements to our new website based on your member and volunteer feedback. We hired a Leadership Development Manager who has made significant inroads in identifying the important factors to volunteer satisfaction and bringing volunteers together to pool resources and share best-practices.

Looking ahead, we seek to create easier ways for people to get involved when they have outside experience, and highlight easy paths to volunteering with us. We want everyone to have the opportunity to get outside in a positive way, and we will continue to be inspired by bringing new outdoor experiences to those in need.

We appreciate the thoughtful feedback shared with us during this process. We hope you are as excited about the future as we are!


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