Poll Results: Performance Measurements in Associations

01 Mar 2024 10:01 AM | Sarah Gamble (Administrator)

A majority of Australian associations leverage benchmarks for performance tracking, recognising their crucial role in strategic planning and service improvement.

Benchmarking is the process of comparing an organisation's processes and performance metrics to either internal markers, such as historical performance, or to industry best practice. For associations, it serves as a critical tool for identifying areas of improvement, driving strategic planning, and ensuring that they remain competitive and aligned with the needs and expectations of their members.

Positively, the latest Associations Matter Survey reveals that 70% of Australian professional and industry associations employ benchmarks to track their performance, actively measuring and tracking a variety of performance metrics.  

According to the Poll, financial performance is tracked against internal benchmarks by 91% of associations. While this shows a robust internal framework for performance management within associations, only one in five compare their financial data to external benchmarks.

Membership metrics are also closely monitored. A large majority of survey respondents measure membership growth (89%), new member acquisition (87%), and member retention (87%) against internal benchmarks. Most respondents also have internal benchmarks to measure member attendance at events (82%), digital engagement (76%) and engagement with CPD and training (69%).

While this suggests a strong focus on membership dynamics as key performance indicators, external benchmarking of membership statistics is less common. Approximately three in ten associations compare their membership retention (36%) and membership growth (27%) against external benchmarks. Digital engagement metrics are externally benchmarked by 33% of those who took part in his month’s survey.

Understanding members' views of their association's value, especially in comparison to competitors, is a key measure of member engagement and loyalty. In line with this, 70% of associations internally monitor their members' satisfaction, and nearly half (49%) assess their Net Promoter Score (NPS), a key barometer of member loyalty. When it comes to external benchmarking, 20% of associations measure overall member satisfaction, and 24% evaluate their NPS against industry benchmarks, ensuring they stay competitive, and member focused.

The survey data shows that Australian associations primarily track benchmarks for strategic and service improvement purposes. Half of the participating associations (50%) cite the use of benchmarks as input to strategic planning and goals, proving the role of benchmarks in shaping long-term goals and directions.  

A similar proportion (48%) track benchmarks to identify potential improvements to services or service delivery, as well as to help with budgeting and forecasting, highlighting benchmarks as tools for both operational efficiency and financial management.

Despite a strong adherence to benchmarking practices, Australian associations face several challenges when it comes to measuring their performance.

Resource constraints and a lack of relevant benchmarks are the most common barriers to more widespread monitoring of performance. About one-third (32%) of respondents indicated that they struggle with finding relevant benchmarks, and an equal percentage (30%) have trouble with comparability between benchmarks and their internal data. Another 30% of respondents find a lack of specific benchmarks that suit their needs, while 27% are concerned about the accuracy and reliability of the benchmarks they do have access to.

Notably, two in five associations not currently benchmarking their performance say that a lack of Australian specific benchmarks is the main reason they do not track their performance against external measures. Consequently, while some respondents indicated that benchmarking association KPIs was problematic due to the nature of their activities, there were several calls from respondents for “access to industry benchmarks”. Others suggested that “benchmark data that is split between the different types of association would be useful for more like for like comparisons.”

Nearly half (45%) of the survey respondents reported that resource constraints, including time and financial limitations, prevent the implementation of benchmarking practices within their association.

About the Associations Matter Monthly Poll

The Associations Matter Monthly Poll is an initiative by AuSAE and Survey Matters. To stay up to date with the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities facing associations the Associations Matter Monthly Poll aims to provide insights into the thoughts and opinions of association leaders, giving them a better understanding of how others are responding to current situations and developments. The Associations Matter Monthly Poll is conducted by Survey Matters, experts in association and membership research.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Associations Matter February 2024 Poll. You can register to receive future polls here.

The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

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Address: Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra QLD 4011 Australia
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