Guest post by IntelliData

Frustrated by an organizational culture that relies too heavily on hunches and gut feelings and doesn’t take data into account when making crucial decisions? Want to move more toward becoming a data-driven culture but aren’t quite sure where to begin or how to foster this same desire in colleagues or team members? Let’s cover a few of the basics to get you and your association on the right track. 

Data Assessment
First, conduct a data assessment to determine what data you have currently and where there may be missing information. What basic reports can already be created in Excel or from an AMS? Do these reports match information you have from other sources? Are reports consistent in terms of, for example, the criteria for a member?

Create clear and straightforward reports from a trusted source
Start by distributing these initial reports to the right team members who will be more likely to appreciate and validate a data-first approach. It’s important that this data- even if it’s limited- be reliable. If it’s information coming from a system that is known to have duplicate and/or bad data, staff won’t trust the results shown in reports, dashboards, or elsewhere.

Collaborate with your staff members
Additionally, nurture a data-driven culture by having key staff or all members of a given department review reports together. Even if it’s in a 15-minute weekly stand up, make this a practice. It’s like exercise: the more your team looks at and uses data, the more proficient they’ll become and the more they’ll start to see trends and patterns on their own. The keys are to make it frequent, routine, and part of a collaborative effort so staff are reviewing the same information.

Add demographic information to member records
While many associations don’t collect basic information such as age, gender, income, and educational level, tremendous insights and trends can be gleaned from the cumulative results of these data points. Keep in mind too that ages and incomes need not be exact numbers but could be input based on predetermined ranges (i.e.: 31-40, 41-50, and 50+). Information based on purchasing histories, donation patterns, or other areas can be acquired very inexpensively and may provide additional depth in understanding member behaviors.

Establish sound data governance practices
Going forward, make sure your association is only collecting data that can be stored and reported on. Data processes need to be determined regarding where data goes and who has the access to enter it. Eliminate duplicate records and break down silos between departments. Train staff regularly so they can grow in data literacy.

Refer to financial data
Lastly, use financial data when making decisions regarding membership and events. Typically, in an association, these two departments may have the most data on constituents but overlaying this information with the financial impact provides a clearer picture of trends with new memberships, renewals, and registrations for conferences, seminars, webinars, and online education. For example, by looking at how much was spent on the last member recruitment campaign and comparing it to the number of new members acquired, you will be able to determine whether the campaign was worth the money and whether you need to alter the campaign strategy. Looking more closely at these trends from the past will enable you and your team to better determine offerings and programming for the future.

Learn more by joining IntelliData and ReviewMyAMS for a free webinar on “How to Bridge the Gap and Overcome Barriers to Become a Data-Driven Association” on Tuesday, October 11th at 11:30 am EST.

Click here to register!