Membes blog: The data points you need to plan your Association’s future

Developing a strategy for an Association requires a great deal of thought as there are so many internal and external factors that can influence the success of the organisation. In order to build an effective strategy, it is important to have strong data to inform the choices you make for more accurate decisions.

A comprehensive strategy based on evidence will build your Association’s credibility, allowing you to achieve your goals and also proving your value to members as you are consistently delivering what they need and when.

There are a number of data points you can track to help you make better decisions, and ensure you meet the current and future needs of your members. We have included three key results to keep your eye on consistently below.

Data from your stakeholders:

The data you collect from your members and stakeholders is probably the most crucial data for you to monitor. Your key stats should include demographics, retention rates, membership growth, and member engagement. You can also go further by conducting surveys and asking for feedback from members and key stakeholders to understand what they need, their current challenges and additional thoughts/opinions.

All of this information helps you understand your audience better to meet their current needs whilst also preparing for the future. For example, surveying your members on areas they want to learn more about/build their skills in could help you develop a highly targeted and relevant CPD program.

When asking your members to provide you with feedback, it is vital that you listen and take on board what they have to say (you always need to be prepared for both negative and positive responses and react proactively accordingly).

Financial performance:

Tracking your Association’s financial statements will provide you with a greater understanding of your revenue sources, expenses and cash flow. This information can be used to assist with realistic budget planning and allows you to allocate resources more effectively. It can also show you how you are tracking and potential areas for improvement.

For example your events could not be as profitable as you would like so you can use your stakeholder data to pinpoint what is lacking from your events (e.g. conduct post-event surveys to collate specific feedback). With this information you can build a comprehensive strategy with clear targets for the team to meet based on current financial performance.

Industry results:

Having a detailed understanding of your marketplace is important so you know the trends (e.g. customer behaviour and technology solutions) and can identify challenges which help you build a stronger strategy to meet the needs of members and your industry. Keep an eye on market size, customer behaviour, competitor activity and emerging technology trends that could all impact your association.

Associations are in a challenging phase where they are needing to demonstrate the value they deliver to members to ensure they retain them. This is due to a few things including the rising cost of living – members need to be able to justify the price of their membership. To help you do this, re-evaluate your strategy and make necessary updates to it based on the key data points discussed above.

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By Membes | 9 July 2023