The Association Scoreboard

Best Practices : Article

Every day, the Boston Globe sports section brings me a seemingly unending array of stats. I know how the New England Patriots perform on the road, in night games, in games after a loss, against certain opponents, you name it.

But many organizations don’t have a comparable scoreboard. They’re playing the game, but not sure how to keep score.

Just like in sports, there’s no end to the statistics that you can look at, but here’s my top three gauges on the association dashboard.

Retention rate: Many organizations focus so sharply on member growth that they miss the fact that they’re trying to fill a bathtub while the plug is out—they’re adding members but failing to retain them. Be sure you know your retention rate, and have a good handle on what drives it.

Cash on hand: Cash is, indeed, king. When the economic downturn hit, some of our clients saw attrition in membership, but all survived. That’s because they had adequate cash reserves.  We’ve blogged previously about maintaining a six month cash reserve—be sure you’re keeping an eye on this ball.

Engagement: This isn’t a single metric, but rather a combination of several. When I was membership director of an association, I ran a regular report on members who hadn’t called us, been to a program or visited our web site in the past 90 days. That’s pretty easy data to pull together (provided you track member interactions, which is a must). Often this data is an early warning system of someone who is a retention risk—if they’re not engaging, give them a call before its too late.

No doubt, there are more. But just as a pilot has dozens of gauges in the cockpit, fuel, airspeed and altitude may get more attention than others.


Association Membership Recruiting and Retention

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