From March 18 – April 10, 2015 NFWFWF conducted its first survey since 2010. Surveys were mailed to the 421 people on our mailing list for whom NFWFWF does not have email addresses. The 432 who have email addresses were asked to respond to the survey online. There were 133 respondents – 6 by mail and 127 online. The response rate for online was 29%. This is an excellent response rate for the online survey but a very disappointing return rate for the mailed survey.

In general, respondents indicated that current NFWFWF programs were valuable and that they would like to see them continue in the future. 83% indicated that NFWFWF was doing a good or very good job in assisting North Fork lesbians. There were more than 350 comments, many of which offered suggestions for what improvements could be made, so clearly the community was engaged in providing feedback about current NFWFWF initiatives as well as what it might do in the future to better serve the community. The results and comments were consistent with the conclusions of the 2010 survey, Aging in Place for Lesbians in the North Fork: A Community Empowerment Report that identified the following community needs and priorities:

  • The need to strengthen caregiver support and lesbian friendly aging services
  • The need to build effective partnerships with mainstream providers in meeting the needs of lesbians, through cultural competency training and outreach
  • The need to promote planning for catastrophic illness and long term care needs
  • The need for education and promotion of long term financial planning, particularly in light of the impact of laws (inheritance, estate taxes, etc.) and safety net programs which have an unequal and adverse impact on same-sex couples
  • The need for increased social support and community building
  • The need to translate the considerable resources of the community (skills, talents, interests, time, etc.) into opportunities to volunteer and contribute to the creation of a supportive community


Age:  44% 61-70, 29% 51-60, 21% 71-80, 3% 41-50, 3% 81 or over, 1% 31-40

Race/Ethnicity:  97% Caucasian, 2% Hispanic, 1% Multiethnic/multiracial

Living Arrangements:  37% married, 33% solo, 28% partnered, 2% with family

Living Location: 44% North Fork fulltime, 40% North Fork part-time, 16% elsewhere

Health Condition: 75% good to excellent, 23% OK, 2% poor

Financial Situation: 48% comfortable, 37% adequate, 15% challenging

Respondents’ participation in NFWFWF events in the past year:

Annual Jan Swanson Auction and Benefit:  57%
Founder’s Award Reception:  30%
Annual Meeting:  36%
Golf Outing:  7%
Pride Party:  34%
Tennis Outing:  6%

40% of respondents did not attend any NFWFWF events in the last year. Those who didn’t attend events attributed it to time/schedule conflicts (53%), events not appealing (20%), not living in the area (16%) or a decision not to attend NFWFWF events (15%).

What’s the Current and Future Value of NFWFWF Programs and Services?

All current programs were highly rated by respondents with only one, promoting the work of local artists, falling below 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 (3.87). The highest rated were HelpHer (4.77), short-term financial assistance (4.68), and access to information on health and legal issues (4.60).

When asked which existing programs/services would be valuable to them in the future, respondents again rated most services as potentially valuable or greatly valuable. The highest rated were access to information on health and legal issues (4.11), HelpHer (4.10), and social/sports/cultural activities (3.94). There were several comments making the point that although respondents might not personally need a specific program, they still thought the programs were valuable to offer to the community. Respondents had many suggestions for what they thought would be potential new programs and services. Interestingly, many of these are already offered.

Do we have the mission right?

80% of respondents felt the mission was very relevant (55.7%) or relevant (24.2%). Almost half of the respondents (48.2%) think the mission (and target community) should not be expanded. About a quarter (26.8%) think it should expand to include all women on the North Fork (gay, straight, or inter), and about a fifth (18.8%) think it should expand to include North Fork lesbians and gay men. A small number (6.25%) think it should include all North Fork women and gay men. There were many comments to questions related to the mission. Several respondents commented that they would be okay with anyone attending NFWFWF fundraising events but that grants and services should be for North Fork lesbians only. There were several comments asking why South Fork lesbians or all Suffolk County lesbians aren’t included. There were also questions about whether or not NFWFWF was actually adhering to and/or accomplishing its mission.

How likely are you to support NFWFWF through dues and donations?

Only about a quarter of respondents (26.9%) were likely to support NFWFWF through dues and only one-fifth were likely to make a donation for a specific event (20.5%). However, respondents were much more likely to make a donation for a specific purpose (42%) or for general operations (43%).

It is hoped that sharing these results with the community will spark constructive and fruitful dialogue that will enhance NFWFWF’s ability to meet the needs of its constituents. The actual survey results are available on the NFWFWF web site.