Almost a quarter of the membership responded to our survey, which is a high response rate for this kind of exercise. 58% of responses were received electronically and 42% by post. Almost half of the respondents had been members of the Friends for more than 5 years. Two-thirds of those responding said that they attended between one and four Friends’ events per year, while a quarter of respondents attend five or more events per year..
Some of the key findings were as follows.
- The main reason for joining the Friends is to support The Wilson. 47% of respondents gave this as their most important reason for becoming a member. The next most popular reason was to be able to attend the talks and visits organised by the Friends.
- Buying new acquisitions for The Wilson’s collections is seen as the most important use for the Friends’ funds, with conservation and maintenance of the collections the next most important.
- The newsletter is used by a majority of respondents (58%) as their principal way of finding out about Friends’ news and events, with email the next most popular (39%). Only 3% of respondents used this website as their main source of information; 29% of respondents never look at the website, and 48% look at it less than once a month. The figures for our Facebook page are even lower, with 84% of respondents saying that they never look at it. However, almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) say that they would be interested in booking and paying for events online if this facility was available.
- 98% of respondents think that their Friends’ subscription represents good value for money, and over a third (36%) say that they would be prepared to pay more.
- Talks and visits are generally very popular, with over three-quarters of respondents in both cases rating them as “generally good” or “very well chosen.” Over thirty comments were received on both topics, which will be taken into account in planning the future programme.
- Social events (ie the summer and winter parties) are less popular, with almost half of respondents saying that they are not interested in purely social events. Again, almost thirty respondents provided additional comments which will be used when planning future events.
- It is clear that there is a preference for what might be called a “back to basics” approach in our activities, including more talks which are based around The Wilson’s own permanent collections and more “local” visits. Here is a flavour of some of the comments:
- “Talks about existing collection. Visits to exhibitions in 50-mile radius – Ashmolean, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham.”
- “More talks on the various collections at the museum, i.e. talks on Cheltenham architecture.”
- “Arrange ‘smaller’ visits, i.e. to the other museums/galleries in our group (Holburne etc.).”
- “Trips and visits locally that are reasonably priced.”
- “Coffee mornings at The Wilson looking in detail at paintings.”
- “In-depth talks on the collections.”
- “Talks on art and the collections.”
- “Half-day visits to more local destinations, e.g Kelmscott.”
- Although the overall response was very positive, it’s clear that we need to guard against being perceived as exclusive; some respondents felt that events were dominated by an “inner circle” who were not particularly welcoming to outsiders.
- “I wish people were more friendly and welcoming at lunch meetings and trips.”
- “I went to one lunchtime event and knew no-one and everyone seemed to talk together in groups.”
- “Too cliquey and quite unfriendly.”
- Over 25% of respondents say that the Friends perform better than other similar organisations that they belong to, and almost 50% say that we perform comparably.
- Some of the more general comments related to The Wilson itself rather than to the Friends, and these will be passed on to the Cheltenham Trust.
Full details of the survey responses can be found by clicking here: Results of Member Survey 2016. We would like to thank everyone who responded and provided us with such helpful information on which to base the future of the organisation.