7 ways to use data to make more informed decisions for your small association

Being a data-driven association is not just for organizations with a big staff.

Here are seven ways to make your small association a data-driven organization.

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager

By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands


Your association’s data is a powerful tool. Using insights from your data can help you make more informed decisions for your organization. Data-based insights can help you enhance the member experience, streamline overall operations, and anticipate future needs.

But you might think that being a data-driven organization is only for associations with a big staff. I challenge you to re-think the way your small association looks at data.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that becoming a data-driven organization can be even easier for smaller associations because you likely have some people serving multiple roles. That means fewer people to get on board with viewing and processing data and making data-driven decisions.

So how do you get started? Here are four ways to use data to make more informed decisions for your small association:

  • Get a single view of your data.
    These days, data analytics is no longer limited to IT departments or to just a select few people at your association. Here’s how an all-in-one association management software (AMS) system can help your entire organization collect, manage, and analyze your data more effectively:

    • View current information – Data that’s in multiple systems and spreadsheets can get outdated in a hurry. It’s nearly impossible to remember to update member data that’s housed in spreadsheets and various systems every time something changes. The next thing you know, you aren’t sure how to find the most recent information. Having your data in a single association management software (AMS) system can help ensure you’re looking at the most recent member data across your organization.
    • Run accurate reports – Without member data in a single system, pulling together reports requires a time-consuming process of cobbling together numbers and other data from disparate systems. Even then you don’t know for sure that you’ve captured all of the latest data. Using a single AMS system allows you to pull reports that represent an accurate picture of your association at any given time.
    • Make consistent decisions – With reports you can’t trust, you don’t have accurate insights into the health of your organization. You can’t make precise and informed decisions. And, if each function across your organization is housing data in a different place, they each could each be making decisions based on different information than the others.

TIP: Moving from spreadsheets and multiple systems to all-in-one membership management software like YourMembership association management software offers a more complete and accurate view of your data, giving you greater insights into your association and your membership base.

  • Establish and monitor key performance indicators.
    Think about the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your organization and set them up in dashboards in your AMS so each staffer in your organization who oversees a function has a quick and easy view every day of KPIs that impact their role.

KPIs are metrics that give you an accurate picture of how your association is tracking toward goals and objectives. For example, you might have a goal to increase overall membership by attracting new members. One objective related to that goal might be to increase new members by 15 percent among students and new graduates by December 31, 2021.

To track key performance indicators for this goal/objective, you might set up KPIs in your AMS dashboard that show you:

    • Overall membership
    • Number of new members
    • Percent of new members that are students and new graduates

TIP: YourMembership association management software allows you to configure dashboards based on KPIs, giving you a quick view of the metrics you need to see how your association is tracking toward goals.

  • Review data regularly.
    In addition to setting up KPIs in your AMS dashboard, set up more detailed reports for each function in your association. These might include:

    • Membership report that shows overall membership trends (new members, lapsed members, etc.) as well as a breakdown of key membership demographics.
    • Marketing report that shows website visits, email open and click-through rates, and online member community engagement.
    • Events report that shows registration, revenue, and other key metrics for this year’s events.
    • Accounting report that shows overall revenue, a breakdown of dues and non-dues revenue, a breakdown of revenue by program, and other key financial data.

Plan a regular meeting (for example, monthly) to review reports with the managers of each key function in your organization. Talk about key trends, what the data is telling you, and what you might do to move numbers that are tracking in the wrong direction.

TIP: You can easily set up reports in YourMembership membership management software to track details for each function in your association – from membership and marketing to events and accounting.

  • Share data with others.
    Not everyone in your organization needs to view your reports and dashboards on a daily basis. But they can benefit from seeing data at key times.

For example, send board members key reports prior to each board meeting so they can review them and work more effectively at the next board meeting.

TIP: YourMembership association management software allows you to schedule and automatically run and send reports to specific people on your association’s staff.

Learn more
Making data-driven decisions is not just for large organizations. Discover more tips on how your association can become a data-driven organization. Download the free tipsheet: How to Make Your Small Association’s Data Come Alive. 2 steps to turn your humdrum data into a powerful decision-making tool.

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