SND 2021 Member Survey Results and Action Items

In April of this year, after facing ongoing industry challenges and a year of lockdown, we asked a team of Society members to put together a survey soliciting input on the organization’s evolution. The goal of this survey was to help SND better focus on areas of member value and evaluate what the future of the society might best focus on. 

Our recent survey shows responses from 133 people, 57% of whom are current members. Most of the respondents (83%) are from North America and almost all (98%) are professionals – not students – and have been in the business for eleven or more years. 

Although respondents are self-selecting, because SND currently has roughly over 200 members, we feel this is a representative sampling, from which we can learn. We appreciate how many people took the time to give us feedback, and we have begun to implement new initiatives based on this valuable feedback. 

We are encouraged that two-thirds of respondents say they are willing to donate their time to help the organization. Volunteer efforts are, of course, the backbone of the organization, so we see this as an encouraging sign.

Following our goal to increase transparency with our members, here is a summary of the findings:

  • Nearly half (43%) categorize their work as print-based; 24% are primarily web-based
  • 58% consider themselves to be a designer or art director/design director/editor
  • 60% work for a large media company (100+ employees)
  • 57% do not belong to other design or media organizations
  • Of former members, 42% cited cost as their reason for leaving, while an equal amount cited “other.” 

The following results are from questions answered by only current members:

  • Networking is by far (81%) the top reason people join SND, followed by the contest (51%) and the workshop (47%). (Respondents could choose more than one answer)
  • Three-quarters now pay their own membership fee
  • Half believe the price of SND is equal to the value they receive, 42% believe the cost is too high relative to the value
  • If pricing were to shift to a la carte, 78% of respondents say they would pay extra for more specialized training — and slightly less than half would pay for more meet-ups or a competition results annual printed book
  • Most respondents (89%) have attended an annual workshop and 65% have volunteered at the print competition at some point
  • Just over three-quarters (77%) participating in an event found networking to be the most valuable, while only 19% thought the event was well-promoted
  • Half attended at least one virtual event over the past year and prefer in-person
  • People found these to be the most valuable aspects of SND from a multiple list: 
  1. Networking
  2. Annual workshop
  3. Competition
  4. Public advocacy for visual journalism
  • Two-thirds believe SND has appropriate diversity in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation and age in its selection of judges and speakers
  • Slightly less (62%) see adequate geographic diversity in judges and speakers
  • More than half (55%) feel it’s important to have in-person events post-pandemic
  • Coding and web design received the most votes for training priorities, followed by information graphics/data, and leadership
  • More than half (55%) do not think that SND does a good job of keeping members informed of training and networking opportunities
  • Two-thirds do not think that SND does a good job of letting members know about the health of the organization and financial concerns
  • About half think the organization does a good job of publicly advocating for visual journalism and design and there’s a similar response for SND’s presence in related thought leadership
  • More than half (57%) say that SND does not do a good job of representing what is happening outside the U.S. in terms of news design and visual storytelling
  • 78% prefer email/newsletters for SND updates
  • More than half (59%) of respondents say they use the SND Slack channel; 57% think there is not enough activity there

Our takeaways and action items:

While we know this survey is not an all encompassing guide to the future of the society – it did allow us to further realize certain initiatives underway this year were of confirmed value which we could quickly prioritize, and continue to build on. The survey also helped narrow areas of growth that the Society, as a whole, needs to focus on. What our members, past members and future members think is of the utmost importance as SND moves forward. 

Some action items we currently have underway/active or in consideration are:


  • Created a biweekly email newsletter with updates on SND happening, upcoming events, recommended reading and SND highlights started in April of 2021.
  • Expanding communication channels for members and non-members by promoting upcoming events, member work and job opportunities on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook which began in May 2021.
  • Added a dedicated upcoming events page and volunteer opportunities on created in May of 2021.
  • Created a new monthly virtual series, Creative Conference Calls, with community networking opportunities in May of 2021. 
  • Released calendar of quarterly business meetings to update members on SND financials and membership issues. 
  • Currently developing a new website to provide more clarity of upcoming SND events, opportunities, initiatives, training materials as well as ways to connect and promote members. 
  • Expanding opportunities for international members to be involved in SND board

In consideration

  • A virtual annual conference in 2021
  • Reviewing options for limited in-person annual conference in 2022
  • Continuing to explore potential topics, training and events for all platforms and mediums of visual storytelling.
  • Developing organized regional in-person networking events
  • Exploration of tier-membership levels
  • Developing master class series for training
  • Restructuring event costs to provide more value to SND membership
  • Interviews with former members to learn more about why they choose not to continue their memberships. 
  • Expanding opportunities for international activities and events