California is one of 3 LeadingAge state partners to win special recognition and a host of prizes for its members’ high response to the LeadingAge Member Survey, which closed at the end of August. Other winners include LeadingAge Virginia and LeadingAge Gulf States.

LeadingAge California achieved the highest response rate among a group of 11 of the largest LeadingAge state partners. LeadingAge National sent 659 surveys to members in California and received 298 completed surveys in return, for a response rate of 45.22%. The survey’s national response rate was 36.61%.

“We just started pushing the message out with everything that we do,” said Melanie Ripley, director of member services, who coordinated LeadingAge California’s survey campaign.

Making Personal Contact

Ripley made sure that members were reminded of the survey during every encounter with LeadingAge California. That work, which began even before the survey was disseminated nationally, involved posting information about the survey on the LeadingAge California website, affixing the survey’s graphic tagline on all of the organization’s outgoing emails, and promoting the survey on LeadingAge California’s social media channels.

“Once the survey started, we integrated it into all of our messaging and discussed it with our members at every opportunity,” says Ripley. “We have over 40 regional and state meetings and we discussed the survey continuously, including at our board meetings.”

As the survey period proceeded, LeadingAge California team members had more personal interaction with members, making outbound calls to drive home the importance of survey completion before the deadline.

With 654 surveys out in the field, it was impossible for the association to call every member. But, says Ripley, “we focused on the multisite organizations and the free-standing members. Combined, our 15 staff made 80-to-100 phone calls to members, with each staff member calling 10-to-15 members. That was very effective.”

Expected Benefits

With almost 50% participation in the survey initiative, LeadingAge California is looking forward to receiving “valuable information about our members and their needs,” says President and CEO Jeannee Parker Martin.

“The more data we have about services and residents, the better advocacy we can do in Sacramento and in Washington, DC,” says Martin. “If the data is good and members filled out the surveys accurately, then we can present our numbers with more certainty.”

Adds Ripley: “We have a duty to make sure data collected is actionable so we can share it back out with our members, and then utilize the information to drive future decisions.”

Why Members Responded So Well

A combination of factors helped LeadingAge California achieve its high response rate, says Martin. First and foremost, multisite organizations, which are represented on the LeadingAge California board, were major supporters of the effort and worked hard to ensure that all their properties completed all the surveys they received.

“Some of the members recognized the value of the data and they probably responded the earliest,” says Martin. “Other members realized we were in a contest, so we pushed them to help us win.”

Many members responded to the survey simply “because we asked,” says Ripley. “They have a sense of duty and loyalty to their association and the communities we support.”

Putting The Prizes To Good Use

In addition to recognition at the 2019 LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO in San Diego, each winning state partner will receive a variety of prizes, including LeadingAge meeting registration certificates, a roundtrip airline ticket to the Annual Meeting, a complimentary hospitality suite in the meeting’s host hotel, and a complimentary dinner for LeadingAge state staff attending the meeting.

Each winning state partner will also be treated to a celebration luncheon for staff in the home state, and a presentation on the survey data by Dr. Robyn Stone, senior vice president of research at LeadingAge and co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.

Martin is eager to use the prizes to celebrate her organization’s success and to applaud the efforts of the team members who made that success possible.

“It’s important we celebrate our members’ engagement,” says Martin. “Melanie did an incredible amount of work and the other staff did as well.”

Ripley says she will also be applauding LeadingAge National during the upcoming celebrations.

“It was a pleasure working in collaboration with the national team,” says Ripley. “We were cheering ourselves on internally, but we also wanted a strong survey response for National’s efforts. It’s important to gather a national view of our members’ needs and wants so we can individually map the results and personalize the journey to increase satisfaction and continued growth of our aging communities.”