Association Impact: Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

impact July 7, 2020 By: Keith Skillman, CAE

In the future, more stakeholders will look to associations to provide support for industries, professions, and society, according to the ASAE Research Foundation’s centennial research initiative.

Impact Every Day is not just a catchphrase for the ASAE Research Foundation’s centennial research initiative; it’s also shorthand for the essence and importance of associations’ work. Next month, ASAE will observe its centennial by shining a light on associations’ efforts to support public protection, education, and workforce knowledge. According to preliminary results from the research, the future looks bright—though expectations are high.

Most respondents to the quantitative part of the research—association professionals, members, and other stakeholders drawn from the rolls of 25 participating associations—put high importance on associations’ present activities, but more of them assign high importance to what they expect associations to do in the future.

Some Highlights

Through a range of vehicles, ASAE will continue to share findings and insights from the Impact Every Day research. Below, some excerpts from the survey portion of the broader effort:

  • Results show increasing expectations of importance for associations to serve as trusted sources of information: 79.9 percent of respondents ranked that role very or extremely important in the past and present, and 91.9 percent called it very or extremely important in the future.
  • Respondents see an increasingly important place for associations in promoting transparency: 80.2 percent expect that role to be very or extremely important in the future, up from 51.9 percent with respect to past and present.
  • Promoting the value of the field represented by the association, a traditional association role, was seen by 53.6 percent as very or extremely important in the past and present, but 84.4 percent see that role as very or extremely important in the future.
  • Eighty-two percent of respondents assigned “very or extremely important” to associations’ support of integrating new technologies in the future, while 56.7 percent gave the same mark to associations’ past and present efforts in this area.

Ongoing Research

91.9% Percentage of association members and stakeholders who assigned high importance to associations’ future role as trusted sources of information

The ASAE Research Foundation has been supporting this study, performed in collaboration with researchers at McKinley Advisors and Westat, Inc., for more than a year. The findings shared here are drawn from the quantitative portion of the research, conducted by Westat, which is probing attitudes and expectations of association professionals and members.

The qualitative segment of the research, executed by McKinley Advisors, consists of case studies demonstrating association impact undergirded by research. Through the remainder of 2020 and beyond, ASAE and the ASAE Research Foundation will tell the stories of these efforts and share the lessons gleaned by associations representing wide-ranging industries and professions and addressing specific problems and needs.

Keith Skillman, CAE

Keith Skillman, CAE, based in Lawrence, Kansas, writes about associations and their work.