connections management news

May 2015
Vol. 14, Number 4

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News
mark sumpter
Mark Sumpter

How to Reverse Declining Membership

Mark Sumpter,

This headline is a plagiarized one lifted directly from a Forum topic recently posted by Jay Zaltzman on behalf of the QRCA Board. If ever we would like to see a discussion thread ‘explode’ with activity, this would be the one. You have heard the Board mention often that bringing in new members is a priority for the organization. But, just as important for us is ensuring we retain eligible members.

To be clear, the QRCA is still strong. However, we are seeing a trend in our membership numbers showing a slow decline driven by non-renewal. Our numbers have fluctuated around 900 (plus or minus 100 or so) over the past decade, in a time when the qualitative industry seems to be growing. This year we started with 829 members, down 61 from the start of 2014.

We are asking the Membership Committee to engage with the Board to reverse this trend. While the recent change in bylaws broadens the pool for membership, it was not intended to be the ‘fix’ for membership numbers. We do a good job and bring new members to the organization each year, but this is not enough to offset those who do not return. To be our strongest, not just in numbers but in knowledge, we need to retain our experienced members. There are two questions I would like to add to Jay’s request when you visit the Forum [or by sending directly to our executive director, Shannon Thompson ( or me (Mark Sumpter, if you are uncomfortable posting your response to the Forum]; these are:

  • What would prevent you from renewing your QRCA membership? Or, if you have considered dropping your QRCA membership, why?
  • Are you seeing the colleagues you expect at your chapter and SIG meetings, or when engaging with other QRCA opportunities? If not, have you ever reached out to them to find out if they are still members, or why they are not?

Understanding the answers to these areas is critical for the Board, Membership Committee, and Marketing Committee to know as we move forward with plans for growing and retaining memberships.

As always, the Board wants to hear from you. Again, please feel free to reach out to Shannon or me with thoughts, questions, or new ideas on this or any subject! And, don’t forget to visit the forum thread to weigh in with your ideas to increase membership!

In your service,

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jay zaltzman
Jay Zaltzman

Action! From the Board

Jay Zaltzman, QRCA Secretary,

At the beginning of this year, the board noted with concern that our membership was down in 2014. While we started 2014 with 890 members, we only had 829 members at the beginning of this year. We have been focusing on the potential causes of this decline and on ways to reverse it. We have been working with the Marketing Committee to increase awareness of the QRCA, with the Membership Committee to find ways to improve members’ experience and provide members with greater value; and we’ve been working with both to determine how to promote and leverage the expanded membership criteria. We have also created the Chapter Success Task Force to focus on ways to provide more value at chapter meetings.

I would be happy to hear from the rest of the members about your thoughts on our membership trends and what to do about it. I’ve started a thread about this on our online forum on, and you can also feel free to email me at

Of course, we have also been working on other board business over the past month. Some highlights:

  • We approved the 2015 Nominating Committee, which will be led by Vice President Monica Zinchiak
  • We approved a contract for E&M to be the publisher of VIEWS for the next two years
  • We disbanded the Legacy Fund at the recommendation of the Advisory Group, which felt it was not fulfilling its stated need
  • And I saved the best for last! We approved Vienna, Austria as the site of the 2016 International Conference, which will take place April 13-15 next year. I have been to Vienna and can’t wait to go back. For those of you who are artistic, Vienna is known for the Secessionist school of art and they have a great museum there. And for those of us with a more hedonistic bent, I think Vienna coffee shops have the best cakes in the world! I can’t wait to go back and I look forward to seeing you all there.

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rick weitzer
Rick Weitzer

Membership Expansion Task Force Concludes Successful Effort

Rick Weitzer,

The Membership Expansion Task Force (METF) has completed its work and our membership has spoken. QRCA membership is now open to academics and other qualitative research consultants in strategy or product/service development firms who primarily practice qualitative research. Please tell any prospective members who were heretofore ineligible to join, that QRCA is now more inclusive than ever. 

I would like to thank our tireless task force members (in alpha order) for their great work: Casey Bernard, Holly Blankstein, Judy Langer, Ava Lindberg, Randi Stillman and Kea Wheeler, plus our guiding light (and Board liaison) Susan Sweet.

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marc andre leduc
Marc-André Leduc

How Lucky I Am

Marc-André Leduc,

I grew up with the influence of the music from an extremely popular French Quebec rock opera called “Starmania.” The lead song was called “The Businessman’s Blues.” The song tells the story of a very successful businessman who travels the world flying first class, staying in all the best hotels and “living the life,” yet he is not happy. He has the “Businessman’s Blues.” The song goes on, “I would have liked to be… an artist, a painter, an author…” and so forth. Basically, he would have liked to be anyone other than himself, doing anything else than what he’s actually doing. (I recommend you look it up, the song is actually quite good!)

During about the same era, we also could hear on the radio the beautiful love song from Elton John, “Your Song.” In this song the singer, as well, suggests that he may have liked to be someone else for a moment. But this singer concludes that he could not be happier with who he is and what he has to offer.

Well, you can guess – I fit the second profile, where my gift is my “Joie de Vivre:” my love of people and accepting who everyone is, just the way they are. I am living that life every day in what I do.

Why am I saying this? At the turn of 45 years old and glancing at mid-life crisis, I realize that I do not have a crisis. Yes, I occasionally ask myself if I work too much, and if I am neglecting my wife and son. Yet when I try and think of anything else I would like the most, or is there anything where my personality and skills could be put to better use… the answer is always, “No.” Qualitative research was made for me.

I absolutely adore qualitative research. The chance that we have as moderators to meet total strangers and ask the most intimate questions that they don't even ask themselves – or think of asking themselves – and the beauty of seeing the light in someone's eyes when they realize the depth of the information you were able to get them to say. As a moderator, you just know it when you have the honest and earnest information; and, sometimes, it will make a difference in their lives as well.

Recently I worked for a client who had significant challenges in recruiting participants where incidence was quite low. Looking for solutions that had to happen “yesterday,” I thought of some acquaintances who I thought would fit the profile perfectly. So, I suggested that they go through the typical screening criteria process with the recruiter. These acquaintances qualified, and I was therefore able to spend time getting to know them even better. 

I honestly trusted my acquaintances to be good participants, which they were; and they went beyond my expectation in a homework exercise they had to prepare to participate. (I think they didn’t want to let me down, so they did put in the extra effort.)

When it's someone that you know personally, and you see it in their eyes that there is this extra level – they see the light – then you feel good.

The next day when you open your inbox and you receive flattering emails telling you how much they enjoyed the experience and how easy it was to open up and share with strangers – even if they knew the moderator – you feel great.

So if you ever wonder if you are at the right place, and if the grass might be greener at the neighbors’ house; talk with your friends. You will most likely realize that we are all so lucky to be in such a wonderful industry.

All that is prologue to my invitation to you to get involved in an organization. Yes, I am all for QRCA; but if you cannot get involved in our beautiful organization for some mysterious reason, then get involved in another organization. It is in getting involved and by sharing with peers who become friends that it all comes back to us. Then we come to realize that the more we give, the more we get back, and the more we savour the work we do.

Aside from qualitative research, which, as I said, is what I do for most of the time I am awake, I have a fierce love of hosting dinner parties. Cooking for friends and family where we can share a great meal is another social gathering where we can chat among friends, have great music so we can hum along (or I can sing a bit), and have good times. But this comes at a price; this appeal for good food has recently forced me to start jogging because, at the age of 44, the chunk of butter on that piece of bread, that extra slice of pie, or the glass of wine (or two)…they don't forgive.

Please, the next time you see me, feel comfortable chatting about music, cooking, food, and good wine, or any other topic that is close to your heart. I am convinced I will be curious to learn more about it and we can enjoy a nice conversation.

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