Selling the LeadingAge Member Survey at the State Level

Members | June 06, 2019 | by Geralyn Magan

LeadingAge Virginia President and CEO Melissa Andrews has a lot riding on the success of the LeadingAge Member Survey. There are 3 reasons for her enthusiasm.

When members of LeadingAge Virginia arrived in Norfolk on Wednesday, June 5 for their annual meeting, they heard a lot about an email that would arrive in their inboxes the next day.

That email invited LeadingAge members across the country, including the 140 members of LeadingAge Virginia, to complete the 2019 LeadingAge Member Survey.

For the past several months, LeadingAge Virginia President and CEO Melissa Andrews has been doing everything she can to make sure her members respond to that invitation in large numbers.

This spring, Andrews urged all members of the LeadingAge Virginia Board of Directors to set a good example for members by completing the survey as soon as they received it on June 6.

LeadingAge Virginia’s May newsletter featured a prominent article urging members to watch their inboxes for the survey and fill it out quickly and completely. The association’s social media channels will regularly reinforce that message until the survey closes on July 5.

Andrews also asked LeadingAge Virginia Chair Jeannie Shiley to open the annual meeting by urging her fellow members to complete the survey. And, just to make sure the survey email gets members’ full attention when it arrives, Andrews decided to cease all other communications with her members on Survey Day.

“My job this week is to get our members as excited about the survey as I am,” says Andrews.

What's at Stake

You’ve probably already guessed that Andrews has a lot riding on the success of the LeadingAge Member Survey. There are 3 reasons for her enthusiasm.

First, the state executive helped guide the survey’s development as a member of a State Partners Task Force that has been meeting with LeadingAge National staff for almost a year. Executives from 9 state partner organizations helped the national survey team select survey questions and develop strategies for increasing the survey response rate nationwide.

Second, Andrews is convinced that LeadingAge Virginia members have a lot to gain from the survey findings, including the ability to compare themselves to others in the field, find out national and state-level staffing data, reap the benefits of data-driven advocacy with policymakers and regulators, and lay the groundwork for future surveys by creating a baseline of data that can be used to track future trends.

The third reason for Andrews’ enthusiasm, she admits sheepishly, is directly related to her competitive nature. She wants LeadingAge Virginia to win the incentives that LeadingAge national is offering to states that return the highest percentage of completed surveys.

States with the highest response rates will win free registrations to an upcoming LeadingAge conference, a hospitality suite where their members can relax and socialize during the 2019 Annual Meeting & EXPO in San Diego, a complimentary dinner, a celebratory staff luncheon at their office, and a personal presentation on survey findings by Robyn Stone, senior vice president of research at LeadingAge and co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.

“I want LeadingAge Virginia to be the big winner,” says Andrews. “We’ve got some pretty competitive members in Virginia, so I know they will help put us over the top.”

Benefits to the States 

Andrews insists that she’s not the only state executive who wants to see the survey initiative succeed.

“I don’t think there is a state exec out there who doesn’t see the value of this survey,” she says. “We’ve been talking for over a decade about the need to truly understand who our members are, what they do, what their pain points are, how we can best serve them. And this survey is going to give us the data we need to be able to articulate that.”

In the process, says Andrews, the survey will give state associations the ability to increase the value of their membership among providers in their states.

“It is an incredibly competitive landscape out there for associations and the competition for members is growing,” she says. “Any way we can demonstrate member value is a win, and this survey is a clear way to be able to demonstrate the value of LeadingAge membership.”

Benefits to Members

The key to the survey’s success lies in a state executive’s ability to articulate ways in which the survey findings will directly benefit a director or administrator of an individual member organization, says Andrews. Because many members have “survey fatigue,” it’s important for state associations to identify compelling reasons for members to push other surveys aside and concentrate on the LeadingAge survey.

Those reasons may be different for each state, and state executives will need to tailor their messages to their own members. But, says Andrews, at the end of the day, most members want the same thing.

“What matters most to them is the people they serve,” says Andrews. “And anything we can do to better understand who we are, and what we do, and how we do it—and to improve on that—is ultimately going to benefit the people we serve. The LeadingAge Member Survey is the best way I know to accomplish those goals.”