Member Survey on 2018 Forum Research Results

By Therese Schneider

Earlier this year, we asked members to complete our annual research survey to help us understand what we’ve been doing well and where we can make improvements. That feedback informs our 2019 research agenda and communications as well as our upcoming strategic planning process. We’ve highlighted some of the results below.

First, we asked questions about who our respondents were.

We asked respondents to tell us in which zip code they worked.

We asked respondents to tell us which sector they worked in.

The Forum offers many membership benefits, including: email notification when new research is released; invitations to members-only presentations and discussions; discounted rates for events like Viewpoint Luncheons, and; opportunities to have researchers meet with your staff to discuss policy issues in an informal setting. We asked which of those benefits did members take advantage of. Here’s how they responded:

The Forum produced 56 published reports in 2019. While our research covers a variety of topics, we strive to ensure our research is timely, readable, useful, objective, and accurate. We asked members to tell us how satisfied they were with those elements of our research. Roughly 90% of respondents were satisfied with our timeliness, usefulness, and objectivity. More than 93% were satisfied with our readability and accuracy.

The Forum’s research focuses on a variety of policy issues, including government finance, economic and workforce development, taxation, transportation, K-12 education, government service sharing, social services, and criminal justice. We asked members to tell us if there were additional policy issues that they would like to see us cover. Among the topics we heard were: Race or class/social justice, higher education, healthcare/Medicare, housing, and immigration.

We asked members to tell us how valuable they found our research products (e.g. in-depth reports, Focus, Wisconsin Taxpayer, our website, interactive charts and graphs, and video summaries. Overall, respondents found these products to be useful, however, many were not aware that we had videos and those who were aware suggested that we update our video format. We heard from some that streaming videos in rural Wisconsin is difficult. Several suggested that we incorporate interactive graphics in our executive summaries.

Finally, we asked respondents to share any recommendations for improving our research or how we communicate our research. Here are some highlights:

  • We need to emphasize that in addition to our focus on southeast Wisconsin, we also do research that covers statewide issues. (In 2019, we published 18 reports with a southeast Wisconsin focus, and 38 reports with a statewide focus.)
  • We should publish shorter pieces that summarize our lengthier reports.
  • Maintain our objectivity, but consider providing policy recommendations or options whenever we can.
  • Host more casual events (like Policy in a Pub).
  • Keep up our social media game (the Forum is on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).
  • Provide a head’s up for upcoming research.

We appreciate all of our members, but especially the ones who found time to respond to our important survey! We’ve already started to incorporate this feedback and we’ll continue to do so when we kick off strategic planning later this year.