Massachusetts Friends of Libraries Membership Survey Results

MFOL conducted a 10 Question Survey of members and past members in July-August,
2017. Highlights on the 55 responses received follow. Additional detail is available on request by emailing: massfriendsoflibraries@gmail.com.

BACKGROUND. 37 Friends groups or about 70% of respondents have memberships
of 300 and below. Respondents included Friends Groups with as few as 4 members to as many as 1,000 members. 32 Friends groups or about 60% of respondents are located in towns with populations of 20,000 or less, and 40% are over 20,000.

WEBSITE/SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. 52% of Friends Groups have a webpage that
is part of the Library’s website. 36% have a separate Friends website. 12% do not have a web presence. In addition, 45% of Friends Groups have a FaceBook page. 17% of respondents mentioned also having: Twitter; a page on blogspot.com; Constant Contact for email blasts.

MEMBERSHIP TRENDS. Over the past few years, membership has increased for 16 or 31% and stayed the same for 24 or 46% of Friends Groups. 11 or 21% of Friends
Groups experienced a decrease in members.

The Friends Groups experiencing increased membership attributed their success to the following:

1) Advertising membership at all library and community functions;

2) On-line payment;

3) Ads in newspapers;

4) Special mailings; and

5) Membership drives.

First, more specifically advertising: mention membership at every Friends sponsored event; constantly advertise the Friends at all Library run events; and have a table at all community events.

Second, for on-line payment, the Friends group added PayPal to their website to take on-line memberships and donations.

Third, regarding newspaper ads: Friends events are advertised in the local paper with photos; and ads include information about the Friends, their accomplishments, and how they support the library.

For the four Friends Groups increasing membership by special mailings activities include: a town-wide mailing; mailing after library renovations were completed; targeting follow-up letters to past Friends members; and targeting mailings to new homeowners.

Fifth, membership drives included: week long drive with table near main desk at library just asking folks to join (gift card raffle for new members and coupon for 5 free books at book sale) and additional 1-day drives; October designated membership month with new members signing up from Sept 1-Oct 31 entered into drawing for framed photo donated by artist.

MEMBERSHIP SOFTWARE.

Nine different types of software are used by the Friends Groups that responded. Excel was the most popular. Next in popularity was Wild Apricot and Constant Contact. File Maker, Word Press, Google Docs, Mailchimp, Access, Front Stream/Gift Works and Mac Pages were also cited. Most respondents had a positive response to ease of use. Access had a negative response. One respondent would not recommend using Google Docs and another would not recommend Constant Contact citing it is good for email but not for a membership database.

JOINING/PAYING ON-LINE.

60% of responses said Friends members can join on-line with 40% saying no. Responses to question asking if people can pay membership fees or make a donation online, 72% of responders said yes and 28% said no. For those Friends Groups where people can pay on-line, 82% said they use the PayPal application. The remaining applications used include: Network for good; QGiv, Squarespace, and East Commerce Solutions. Except for 2 negative recommendations for PayPal, all those using on-line payment applications said they would recommend what is used.

BENEFITS/SIGN-UP INCENTIVES.

The overwhelming membership benefit cited was Preview Book Sale invitation. Other Book Sale related benefits included free, 10% discount and $2 off coupons for books; and free admission to book sale. Other benefits included: Newsletter, Invitation to Annual meeting/volunteer reception; advance notice of programs, free library tote bag, discount on insurance policy, no overdue fine certificate; free copies from the copy machine. Some respondents indicated no membership benefits are given.

Sign-up Incentives cited included: new or renewal included 4 tickets to Boston Museum of Science from business donating 500 tickets; Join or renew within timeframe entered into drawing for $100 gift card; and free tote bag at $25+ level on special days.

FEE STRUCTURE.

Responses to, “what is your Friends’ membership fee structure? (i.e.-categories & prices) varied greatly from just one category and fee of $25 to much more complex structures. Following are some of the most commonly cited categories (in order of most widely used by respondents) with price analysis:

FAMILY. Price range from $10 to $50, with $25 (44% of family responses) and
$20 (16%).

INDIVIDUALS. Price range from $5 to $25, with $15 (43% of individual responses)
and $10 (23%).

SENIORS. Price range from $5 to $15, with $10 (48% of senior responses) and
$5 (32%). Seniors were defined by one group as 60 and another as 65 years of age.

STUDENTS. Price range from $5 to $15, with $5 (46% of student responses)
and $10 (46%).

BUSINESS. Price range from $50 to $250, with $100 (50% of business responses)
and $50 (30%).

LIFETIME. Price range from $100 to $500, with $100 (44% of lifetime responses)
and $250 (33%).

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