The American Humanist Association (AHA) constantly looks for ways to find out what you, our members and supporters, think of our programs, what you would like to see us focusing on, and what you would like us to do differently. We get this information in a variety of ways, from individual emails and phone calls to conversations at chapter and affiliate meetings, in addition to meetings between you and AHA staff or leadership that happen across the country.
Humanists, as we are consistently happy to learn, are open to sharing their opinions whether through comments at TheHumanist.com—our flagship online publication—on AHA social media platforms, and in surveys.
Recently, we distributed a survey to our members and supporters that was designed to collect your insights into our programs and learn more about issues that are important to you. Frankly, we hoped for a more robust response rate, but the more than a thousand returns we did get provided some ideas about what you think we do well. (It’s worth mentioning that since the respondents were self-selecting and the people with the strongest opinions are the ones who most likely participated, this is not a scientific sample.)
It was also important for us to hear from our core group of AHA supporters: members, donors, and email subscribers. In addition, for the first time ever, we reached out to a fourth group—our social media followers on Facebook and Twitter.
(Please note: if you are a member or a donor but we do not have your email and you do not follow us on social media, you unfortunately did not get the survey. We hope that the next time you renew your membership or send in a donation you’ll provide an email address. And if you support us through the website, make sure to check the box that says: “Yes, I’d like to receive email updates.” In addition to receiving any future surveys you’ll also receive more interesting and useful information about the AHA, including our weekly newsletter, “This Week on TheHumanist.com.” And, please, remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.)
In analyzing the survey results, what was most surprising was how many similarities in answers the four survey groups displayed. We thought there would be large differences in interests and desired program focuses between, for instance, donors and social media followers. Instead, we found that, by and large, the groups exhibited very similar responses to our questions.
For instance, all the survey groups had the same top choices when asked which areas of the AHA’s work most interested them—namely: lawsuits and other legal activism, lobbying and political advocacy, social justice initiatives, and the Humanist and TheHumanist.com. The only exception to this were social media followers, who rated Humanist Disaster Recovery (the joint charity project of the American Humanist Association and Foundation Beyond Belief) over our publications—which could be partly because these supporters read our articles on social media and don’t realize they originate in our print and digital publications.
When asked which of the issues we work on they value most, all four groups unsurprisingly indicated that they are either “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in our core mandate, the separation of church and state. Although the rates at which the groups chose this answer ranged from 91 percent for members to 98 percent for email subscribers and 100 percent for donors and social media followers, for all four groups it was the top answer to the question. The other three interest areas were similarly consistent across all survey groups: end of life choices, social justice, and voting rights were the next three choices, followed closely by reproductive rights and climate change.
Focusing on our Center for Education, we asked respondents what they would be most interested in learning more about. Gratifyingly, they chose deepening humanist philosophy, engaging in critical thinking, and becoming more knowledgeable about social justice. The social justice issues they would most like to get more involved in are racial justice and reproductive justice.
The area where our survey groups diverged the most was in involvement in local chapters. AHA donors were the most likely to be involved in a local group, with 60 percent of respondents already belonging to a chapter or affiliate. In contrast, only 22 percent of members belonged to a local group, while 8 percent of social media respondents and 18 percent of email respondents participate at the local level. On the upside, a large majority of those who weren’t connected to a local group said they would be interested in getting involved in one. Check out this link on our website to find a group near you.
Because the AHA is a membership organization, it is crucial that our programs and projects reflect what our members and supporters would like to see us working on. So, we invite you to contact us by email, phone, letter, or in person to let us know what you like about what we do and what you think we should focus on more. And the next time you get one of our surveys in the mail, please fill it out. Make your humanist voice heard!