How to Use Data to Improve Your Association

Does your association leadership sets lofty membership, retention, and revenue goals each year? That’s a great starting point, but perhaps one of the most important steps to reaching any goal is tracking progress.

Peter Drucker’s quote “What’s measured improves” hits the nail right on the head.

To make improvements in your organization, you will need to commit to recording and analyzing data.

Here are key points to consider when using data to improve your association.

Measure What You Want to Change

What aspect of your membership organization do you want to improve? “Everything” isn’t a valid answer. You will need to quantify the exact aspects you want to change, such as increasing membership by 10% or growing revenue 20%.

You will need to know where you are starting from and where you plan to go to evaluate if your plans are working.

Identify the specific metrics that will let you know if you are on track. Use the data collected from your membership management software or create a spreadsheet for tracking. Be sure to update and review your reports at least once a month.

Change One Variable at a Time

When your leadership is excited about making positive changes, it can be tempting to want to totally revamp your organization. But before you do, identify the variables you believe affect the metric you are measuring and only tweak one at a time.

For example, if increasing retention is your ultimate goal, outline things you think impact retention. If your list includes dues prices and providing valuable events, change only one of these items during your measurement period.

Say you change both and retention increases – you won’t know if it was your meetings or the dues that made the difference.

Changing only one thing at a time allows you to better pinpoint what works so you can replicate it going forward.

Give Trials Enough Time to Work

Keep in mind you will want to have enough data to make a sound decision. If you want to determine if hosting meetings online improves attendance, you will need to have more than one virtual event.

If you try one virtual meeting and no one shows up, it could be due something external such as holidays or the subject matter. Just because something doesn’t work right away or the first time you try it doesn’t mean it won’t work over time.

Commit to the test and getting more than one data point.

Data can be a very powerful tool for improving your organization. Make use of all the data and reports provided by your membership management software to track your association’s goals. Awareness of the proper metrics, creating and sticking to a plan will provide invaluable information for your leaders.

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