Back to main

Blog: How Research Can Benefit Your Association: Benchmarking Surveys

How Research Can Benefit Your Association: Benchmarking Surveys

Association executives often seek opportunities to expand the value they deliver to members and extend the member experience beyond continuing education and annual conferences. In associations across many industries, research can be a key driver of member recruitment, retention, or even non-dues revenue. Association members often rank data programs, research, and industry data within the top three membership benefits. In this four-part blog series on how research can benefit your association, we will discuss common types of research and other best practices that associations can follow to engage members through research.

Why Benchmarking Surveys?

One of the most commonly sought-after kinds of research among association members are benchmarking surveys, which help individual organizations, programs, or employees assess how they compare to their industry counterparts based on any number of metrics. These studies can help organizations better understand the health of their finances and operating costs or determine a blueprint for what the most profitable organizations in their sector are doing effectively. 

For example, compensation and benefits surveys can help association leadership, hiring managers and individual employees understand what standard compensation and benefits should be for someone in a specific role based on industry-wide data. This popular form of benchmarking surveys can help organizations align to industry trends that support employee retention, satisfaction, and other variables related to talent management.

To Serve Your Members, Listen First.

Valued research always begins with a clear understanding of and input from member communities. What are the trends they need more information about? What are the questions or problems they are trying to solve?

By listening first, your benchmarking research can be better informed by their needs and provide more actionable outcomes for them. This is critical because with benchmarking studies, associations need participation from members of the industry to collect valuable evidence. Listening first helps you gauge the level of participation you can expect and determine what kinds of data will add value for those who will depend on this data. Moreover, to ensure you are providing continued value and relevant information to your community, planning to conduct the survey on an annual or bi-annual basis can strengthen participation and the perceived value of the research.

Association Trends
Download our free guide

For Effective Research, Trust the Experts

Most associations lack the internal resources and bandwidth to conduct, package and promote this research. Partnering with an experienced research firm that is accustomed to following market research best practices and data security best practices can reduce the stress on staff, while also reassuring members by outsourcing responsibility to an independent third party with a strong history of handling confidential information. In addition, we recommend that your association’s legal counsel provide advice on any considerations for the collection of sensitive and confidential information. 

If you’re ready to learn more about what benchmarking surveys and other kinds of association research can do to support your member community, let’s connect.

Contact Karen Taylor at to learn more about your benchmarking surveys with Vault Consulting.

Karen Taylor, CDMP, CDMS-S
Karen Taylor, CDMP, CDMS-S
Karen’s passion for the nonprofit community spans nearly twenty years. As a mediator for the Vault brand, Karen maintains a cohesive personality for Vault as a driven, collaborative, and innovative organization, across all marketing channels.  ...
see full bio