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Your Chance for Input

Tuesday, September 08, 2009
By Kent R. Schneider

I want to depart from my usual Commentary format this month to give you early notice about the upcoming AFCEA International membership survey. The information we derive from this survey is critical to us in our planning and budgeting process for the coming years.

One of the most important tools for AFCEA is communication with its members. Our primary objective is to provide the best and most relevant services to all of our members in the military, government, industry and academia; but we can do so only if we understand member requirements. While we talk to as many members as possible throughout the year, the only way to obtain comprehensive feedback is to conduct a membership survey, which we will do again this year.

With the global economic shift over the past year and the many changes in national and international coalition priorities, there has never been a more important time for AFCEA to understand its members’ thinking and direction. The AFCEA value proposition will change for members as they adjust to address these factors. We need to understand those changes and how we can optimize the AFCEA experience for everyone.

I know that the reaction from many of you will be that you receive a huge number of surveys each year and you don’t answer many of them. But you should answer this one, and the reason is simple: This is your association, and you should be guiding its leaders to provide the services and information you need.

We know that every region and chapter is unique and may have greatly varying needs. Individual member needs vary as well. Letting others answer for you may not communicate your specific needs or those of your chapter.

This survey does not take long to complete. But to make it as effective as possible, I need everyone to respond. Tell us what you like and what you don’t like. Tell us what we need to do more and what we need to do less. Tell us which services you value and which you do not. Tell us what new offerings you would like us to provide. In the survey, there will be opportunities to provide comments clarifying your responses. Use these comments to give us specifics about your environment and what you need—or don’t need—from AFCEA.

It is important that we hear from all the stakeholder groups within AFCEA. International members, small business, large business, government, military, young AFCEANs, engineers, business developers, organization leaders, AFCEA volunteer leadership at the international, regional and chapter levels, and our many partners in the community all have important and different perspectives—and we need to hear from each and every one of you.

Does your feedback from this survey really impact AFCEA planning? Absolutely. Based on the feedback, your association develops an action plan for the year. This plan is briefed to the AFCEA International Board of Directors, and the results are presented to the board at each meeting. In addition, we will report the results of the survey to all of you, and then we will tell you how we are responding to your feedback as we progress through the year.

The survey will begin early next month. Invitations to participate in the survey will be sent out on Monday, October 5, and a designated Web site will be open for responses through Monday, November 9. The survey company will compile and analyze the data and present it to the headquarters staff in December. We will develop our plan and present it to the Board of Directors in early February 2010. Shortly after that, we will provide the survey data and action items from our plan to all of you.

One important point that everyone should know: Market Connections, Inc., will conduct and analyze the survey for us. As a result, the e-mail inviting you to participate in the survey will come from afceasurvey@marketconnectionsinc.com. When you respond to the survey, you will be directed to a Market Connections Web site. Please do not treat this survey as spam or disregard it because it is not coming directly from AFCEA.

Your responses will be absolutely private and will be used only by the AFCEA team. Your feedback is extremely important to us. Thank you in advance for your involvement. This is your association, and we want to serve you in the best manner possible.