Membership Metrics: A Review of Current and Best Practices
Transforming membership data into business intelligence is a top priority for strategic nonprofit leaders. However, nonprofits face numerous obstacles to managing data successfully. Tate & Tryon conducted a survey to learn more about this issue and identify best practices related to the collection, tracking, and reporting of membership (and other stakeholder) metrics.
Primarily Chief Membership Officers (40%) and Chief Financial Officers (38%) completed the survey. Nearly four out of 10 (38%) survey respondents collect more than 20 data points (such as name, address, and age) about their members, and 62% of respondents have designated at least two individuals responsible for collecting, analyzing, and/or reporting membership metrics. Only about half (53%) of respondents have a documented business process for capturing data points and producing membership metrics, although most (84%) have data entry guidelines for their membership database.
The most commonly collected data points/metrics are membership growth/decline (96%), member retention rate (93%), and event attendance (93%). Eighty-six percent of respondents feel that measuring member engagement is very critical for evaluating progress toward their goals, yet only one-third (33%) measure member engagement. Conversely, although 93% of respondents track event attendance, only half (52%) feel this information is very critical for measuring progress. These and similar findings suggest that nonprofits may be missing key insights by not selecting metrics that yield meaningful information about their membership.
Nearly half (45%) of respondents say their primary challenge regarding the collection, analysis, and/or reporting of their membership metrics is missing or inaccurate data, while 24% cite improper data formatting. Forty-seven percent of respondents are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the ease of obtaining information from their database. These obstacles and frustrations may arise from the fact that only 24% of respondents say their website, AMS or CRM, and accounting system are fully integrated.
So what? While there is no right or wrong number of membership metrics to collect, each should provide meaningful and actionable information. Nonprofit leaders can help ensure this by letting their strategic plan guide their approach to metric selection and data management procedures. Datasets should be integrated to the fullest extent possible to ensure data standardization and enable higher-level analyses like predictive modeling and behavioral analytics.
To view key survey findings, recommended data practices, and guidance on measuring member engagement, request the report. You will also have an option to request an interactive dashboard containing the detailed survey results.