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Surveys
A Guide for Community Associations

ISBN: 978-1-59618-009-3
2006, 78 pages
Author(s): George Einfeldt LSM, PCAM and William Trochim, Ph.D.
Product Format: Book
Item #: 0093
Members: USD $12.00
Non-Members: USD $20.00
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Managers and boards of community associations will find their jobs easier if they know what members and residents are thinking. Find out what they want and what they're willing to pay for. Tap into their opinions and preferences with a community survey.

  • Why should community associations survey residents and members?
  • How do boards and managers get started on a survey, and what's the best approach?
  • What kinds of questions should be on a survey? How many? In what order?
  • What motivates residents to complete and return a survey?
  • What should the association do with the information it receives?
    Surveys: A Guide for Community Associations will answer all these questions and more.

Contents

Introduction—Why Conduct Surveys?
Chapter 1—Getting Started
Chapter 2—Types of Surveys
Chapter 3—Types of Questions
Chapter 4—Elements of Good Questions
Chapter 5—Getting a Good Response
Chapter 6—Dealing with the Data
Appendix A: Sample Surveys
Appendix B: Further Reading

Read what members are saying

"Knowing how, when, and why to survey a community is an essential part of leadership."
Robert A. Felix, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, RS

"This how-to survey guide is a valuable first step for community associations to learn how to get the pulse of the community."
Drew Regitz, MBA

"I believe this book will certainly be useful to community associations who take the time to formulate surveys."
Theresa N. Swan, PCAM

 
Excerpt
 
Introduction: Why Conduct Surveys?
 
Boards need to be in touch with residents. They need a sense of association members' opinions and priorities when making decisions for the entire community. Surveys are an excellent way to obtain feedback on specific subjects and sample general attitudes of community residents. Boards that seek out and seriously consider resident's opinions will likely foster a stronger sense of community, reduce rule violations and resident complaints, and generally find that residents support their efforts.
 
Conducting a community survey might reveal unknown problems or negative attitudes, but boards should never be reluctant to undertake surveys for these reasons. On the contrary, boards have a responsibility to recognize and rectify problems and address the sources of negative attitudes. Of course, the opposite is also true: surveys can confirm that the board is on the right track, provide support for difficult decisions, and demonstrate a board's due diligence and sound business judgment.
 
Boards might also be reluctant to conduct surveys because they feel that the results constitute a mandate. However, surveys are not votes! Board members should remember that the information they collect is intended to help them make decisions, set priorities, and identify issues. Boards won't always be able to respond to every issue raised in a survey; but, they will at least be aware of it, and they can factor it into their decision making. Residents will understand the information-gathering nature of a survey if it includes a cover letter from the board explaining the surveying process and purpose.
 
Some boards might balk at the idea of conducting research because it seems too scientific. It isn't. Usually the first 20 percent of effort will generate the 80 percent of the plan, which makes a very good beginning.
 
Survey results are an expression of attitudes on specific subjects at one point in time. Therefore, conducting surveys should be a regular—but not excessive—activity in any association. The value of a survey's results is related to the level and breadth of participation by residents. Conducting surveys periodically demonstrates to residents and members the value of their views and accustoms residents to sharing those views. Residents feel valued when the association expresses an interest in what they have to say. Board decisions will be more acceptable to residents and members who had an opportunity to state their preferences or voice their opinions. Without this inclusion they may feel removed from the community. In fact, responding to surveys may be the only feedback some residents will ever contribute—those who ordinarily don't attend meetings or voice opinions.
 
Surveys also comprise the foundation of strategic planning. Boards that plan and budget for the future of their communities based on the preferences of the residents will have greater success achieving goals and improving the quality of life for everyone in the community.
 
In addition to being a source of data, surveys can be excellent public relations and educational tools. If a survey shows the board has listened to the community, community programs have been improved or expanded, or that residents are very satisfied—that's good news. It should be shared with the entire community—including not just residents, but also realtors, developers, government entities, and the local media.
 
There is no perfect research design, and associations need not worry about getting it perfect. Begin modestly with simple surveys on non-critical issues until the volunteer leaders and members become more familiar with the process. Boards and managers alike will become more comfortable with the process as they get underway.
 

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