The second Associations Matter Study with members of professional associations was conducted late in 2014 and the results are in!
The inaugural study in 2013 focused on understanding members' opinions of the activities and services provided by their association. Why they join, what services they value and how they rate their associations performance. The results provided the professional associations who took part the information they needed to tailor their strategies to the preferences of their members. (You can access the 2013 report here)
The latest research took a more strategic approach to the previous study. Rather than asking members to rate their association's service delivery, we turned the focus to where it should be. On members. And on how associations could best serve them. We did this by asking members about the professional challenges they face and for their views on the role associations can play in assisting members with their issues.
And, it is clear that members think associations have a large role to play! And, positively, members challenges are, in the main, all things associations are equipped to assist with.
The key finding!
We have always been convinced that only associations that focus on helping members address the strategic and professional challenges they face have a sustainable future. That by doing so they will strengthen their role in an increasingly crowded market, where a myriad of organisations and technologies now provide services that compete with associations traditional offering.
A recent study from the United States, "Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement" found that an association who understands its members' up at night issues is significantly more likely to have increasing revenue and retention. Equally, our own research with individual associations usually suggests a strong link between management focus on members and membership engagement and net promoter scores.
This current study confirms it. While we have not (yet!) measured the link between an associations focus on members challenges and financial outcomes, the study found that associations whose members believe their association is focused on their needs perform significantly better along all member satisfaction, engagement and referral ratings.
Members who answered "Yes" to the statement "Do you think the management and Board understand the strategic challenges facing your profession?" have a net promoter score of 38.3%, compared to an overall study score of 10.7% and -50.5% for those who selected "No" to the same statement.
So what are members’ challenges?
While challenges vary across professions, industries and individual associations, there are some common and often repeated themes in members' feedback.
- 42% of members struggle to keep up with information and technology
- 32% of members were concerned about protecting the reputation of the profession
- 28& were worried about managing costs
Much of this confirms what members told us last year. But this year we dug a little deeper, and got a lot more insight! Members provided many suggestions about the specific source of the challenges and the solutions that they think associations can implement to help them.
How can associations help?
The findings indicate that associations can actually do a great deal to help their members. In doing so, we believe, associations can strengthen their position and become the "go to" organisation for their profession.
Two key themes were repeated in members feedback.
- Supply information and keep members informed with updates in their profession.
- Protect the profession. Brand and credibility is crucial.
With over 6,500 responses there were many, many specific ideas about what members would like their association to do! We have summarised much of this in the full report, which you are welcome to read. We also intend to examine the most important findings and release more in depth analysis over the coming twelve months.
We hope you find the report interesting. Of course if you have any questions about the study, or any of our findings, just ask!