Member Survey on 2019 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. While the 2018 survey informed our strategic planning process, the 2019 results inform our 2020 research agenda and communications. We’ve highlighted some of the results below.

First, we asked a few demographic questions, including asking in which zip code and sector they worked.

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 and compared to last year’s results. Here’s how they responded:

The Forum produced 53 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. More than 90% of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with our timeliness, readability, usefulness, objectivity, 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: Health and healthcare, environment, racial segregation, and election/voting issues.

We asked members to tell us how valuable they found our research products (e.g. in-depth reports, Focus, Wisconsin Taxpayer, interactive charts and graphs, video summaries, budget briefs, and data tools. Overall, respondents found these products to be useful.

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 (a lot of) research that covers statewide issues. (In 2019, we published 12 reports with a southeast Wisconsin focus, and 40 reports with a statewide focus. Plus, we published our first piece of Madison-focused research in 2019 with a Madison Metropolitan School District budget brief.)
  • Maintain our objectivity, but provide more policy recommendations or options whenever we can.
  • Host more casual events (like Policy in a Pub or morning gatherings for coffee and discussion) and perhaps webinars.
  • Keep up our social media game (the Forum is on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).
  • Continue the variety of ways we present and communicate our 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 look forward to bringing you more nonpartisan public policy research in 2020.