Hearing from our Members – Recapping the 2021 Membership Satisfaction Survey
In Fall 2020, a group of International Officers and Headquarters staff gathered to begin discussions for the 2021 MSS. This team was led by Grand Vice President Member Experience Jamie Daniels and Associate Executive Director Ashley Karth. Dr. Andrew Ledbetter, a professor at Texas Christian University with years of research and assessment expertise, assisted the team in developing the survey and provided an in-depth analysis of the MSS data.
The MSS was sent to all Pi Beta Phi alumnae with a valid email address on file in March 2021. Dues paying members and Pi Beta Phi Foundation donors from the past two fiscal years without an email address on file received a postcard with information to participate.
Of the 100,550 alumnae who were invited to participate, more than 4,400 completed the survey, providing feedback on member engagement, satisfaction and moment-in-time factors specific to the challenges our sisterhood experienced over the previous year.
Breaking Down the Numbers
To better understand our membership, we expanded the survey’s demographic section to provide members with the opportunity to share their identities. Gathering this demographic data allows Pi Phi to identify programs and resources which will better support our members.
Similar to the cross-generational nature of our membership, the age of survey participants stretched from 19 to 97 with an average age of 54. Below we’ve identified survey responses based on Pi Phi’s eight regions.
Alumnae EngagementAs part of the MSS, we asked members a series of questions surrounding potential barriers to engaging with the Fraternity. Dr. Ledbetter’s analysis of the data revealed responses fell into one of six barriers to engagement.
Barrier: I am uninterested in Pi Phi.
"Pi Phi was more for college, not now.”
Barrier: I am too busy to be engaged with Pi Phi.
“My home and work responsibilities occupy much of my time.”
Barrier: Pi Phi is unwelcoming.
“Local alumnae are a clique that doesn’t embrace newcomers.”
Barrier: I disagree with Pi Phi.
“Pi Beta Phi has made decisions that have disappointed me.”
Barrier: I am unable to be engaged with Pi Phi.
“I don’t know how to get involved with Pi Beta Phi at this point in my life.”
Barrier: My health prevents engagement with Pi Phi.
“Physical health challenges prevent me from being involved with Pi Phi.”
Of the six barriers to engagement, the most prevalent barriers were lack of time and lack of interest. While alumnae under the age of 50 noted they are often too busy or unable to engage with the Fraternity, older members cited a lack of interest. One member shared, “I hope that Pi Beta Phi continues to do well. It is just not a priority in my life right now. It is possible that it will become a priority again at some point.”
Members under the age of 50 were also more likely to find Pi Phi unwelcoming. For example, some members found that alumnae clubs are cliquey, mostly consisting of members from the same chapter, while others felt their club didn’t hold enough planned activities and events.
Alumnae satisfaction measures how members think and feel about Pi Beta Phi. While members reported high levels of satisfaction both during college and now, many alumnae reported higher levels of satisfaction during college. Written responses from members allow us to further understand why alumnae satisfaction may fall after a positive collegiate experience.
Overall Member Satisfaction
When asked “What makes you feel satisfied and engaged with Pi Phi?” members shared responses ranging from philanthropy and keeping in touch with sisters to mentoring collegians and receiving lifelong support from Pi Phi.
“Times change, sorority life changes, but what lasts are those lifetime relationships and the shared lifetime memories.” – Oklahoma Pi Phi
“The friends I made in college and the friends I have made as an alum especially moving to cities where I did not know anyone. Pi Phi is a valuable resource for alums who find themselves in new cities without having an established network of friends and family.” – Kentucky Pi Phi
“Lifelong close bond with my best friends from Pi Phi in college are a blessing and give me much pleasure even though we can’t see one another in person due to geography but every 3 years or so. We have visited on Zoom about once a month during Covid. We are a great support group!” – Missouri Pi Phi
Included in the MSS were 20 questions about how current events — including the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice movements and employment concerns — impacted alumnae engagement and satisfaction. Participant responses helped illustrate the alumnae experience during the pandemic in addition to other challenges faced in 2020. A few key takeaways are noted below.
Impact of the Moment
- Members were most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by social justice concerns and employment concerns.
- During COVID, members have found ways to virtually connect with one another, therefore concerns about the pandemic have little effect on a members’ level of engagement.
- Members with marginalized identities reported greater barriers to engagement within our sisterhood and greater impacts from current events.
- Members concerned with social justice are among those least likely to engage with the Fraternity.
- Members experiencing employment concerns including changes at work, loss of job and changes in childcare responsibilities indicated higher levels of engagement.
As the MSS was administered in March 2021, proposed policy changes to be voted on at Convention 2021 were at the forefront of many members’ concerns. Alumnae were provided the opportunity to give feedback on their satisfaction related to proposed policy changes to legacy considerations, sponsorship and the Fraternity’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). This optional portion of the survey was completed by 29% of participants.
Alumnae members displayed strong support for Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to DEI.
“I’m happy to see that Pi Phi is evolving and listening to younger members. In my experience, it is hard for some to understand the balance of “tradition” vs. growth. I think it is prudent to look to younger members whose collegiate experience is much different than that of a collegiate experience decades prior. ... I hope that Pi Phi will stick to a path of improvement and understanding that while there is history and legacy to be proud of, there is also room to say we were wrong and improve.” – Iowa Pi Phi
“I feel satisfied when I see the organization evolving and making change to keep pace with the changing college experience and recruiting a diverse group of young women who represent our values.” – Michigan Pi Phi
“As someone who has often not felt a part of Pi Phi, I am glad to see the organization considering improvements related to inclusion. This excites me for the future.”– Indiana Pi Phi
“While I understand the legacy policy was amended largely to promote inclusion, I feel that it was too much too fast. I think it should have been phased in. In a time of Abolish Greek Life that policy change alienated those who should be our strongest supporters - our alumnae. Perhaps it is a tradition whose time has passed, but I think it could have been presented more thoughtfully than it was.” – South Carolina Pi Phi
“I am thrilled about eliminating sponsorships and recommendations. As a first- generation fraternity woman, I had no one to reach out to for these forms, and I think it will enhance our diversity and inclusion in the long run. That said, I am a little disappointed by the changed legacy policy. While I am happy it came from a commitment to increased diversity/reduced barriers, I loved seeing mother-daughter and other family initiation celebrations in my chapter. I would hope for that sort of courtesy consideration for my future daughters to share a part of my life that's so important to me with them.” – Virginia Pi Phi
“I am extremely disappointed in decisions made regarding legacy consideration, which makes me reconsider my participation going forward. I come from a long line of Pi Phis and was very excited for my daughter who is one year away from college, specifically looking at schools with Pi Phi chapters. But now we are all saddened and disappointed by these decisions. Just a little consideration for family.”– Iowa Pi Phi
“I applaud the bold leadership of Grand Council. These are hard and heavy issues and decisions, and I personally believe that the Fraternity is doing the right thing.” – North Carolina Pi Phi
Survey responses related to the Convention 2021 proposed policy changes presented data that will help inform conversations well beyond this past summer’s convention. Member feedback continues to be a priority for Pi Phi, and we will continue to gather and listen to feedback in order to provide a premier experience for our members throughout their lifetime.
Equipped with thoughtful feedback from our alumnae membership, Pi Beta Phi can move forward with informed priorities to ensure our sisterhood remains a premier organization that is relevant to today’s collegiate and alumnae members. The data and insights provided by our members give the Fraternity the opportunity to overcome barriers and challenges to reengage alumnae members in a meaningful way. Thank you to every member who shared their thoughts, concerns and feedback with the Fraternity. Pi Beta Phi will use the moment-in-time feedback and data to continue to frame our alumnae support priorities and strategic planning.
To ensure you receive the MSS the next time it is distributed, confirm your contact information is up to date on your member profile. You can update your contact information here.
Published November 10, 2021