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Blog: How Research Can Benefit Your Association – Trend Analysis

How Research Can Benefit Your Association – Trend Analysis

Not-for-profit organizations can benefit a great deal from conducting primary market research (PMR). However, in order to truly leverage the power of data, successful research efforts also require trend analysis. That’s because learning to examine trends specific to your sector can empower you to look for the detailed patterns you need to make more effective decisions for your association.

Sector Trend Analysis
Tailoring your trend analysis to address the unique needs of your organization is critical because data is most useful when it is specific. This means that while macro-level data is useful, having data that is tailored to your sector, targeted demographic, and geographical area will prove more effective. Fortunately, great software systems make geographic or sector-specific trend analysis easier than ever.

Sector or demographic-specific trend analysis can help your not-for-profit:

  • Evaluate whether your membership fees are competitive across your sector or geographical area.
  • Use benchmarks to examine program performance against other similar not-for-profit programs within the same region.
  • Examine association finances against other similarly sized associations to better determine competitive salaries or which programs to offer.
  • Examine and evaluate seasonal patterns for membership and donor participation across your sector.

Donor and Membership Trend Analysis
Because most not-for-profits rely heavily on dues or donor contributions for sustainability, your association should also examine donor and member trends. By studying the trends of your members and donors (in addition to studying the overall trends in your sector) you can gain invaluable and strategic information into your audience that can help your association thrive. Examining trends within your membership and donor body can help your not-for-profit:

  • Clearly define your goals for strategic planning
  • Identify opportunity for donor and member segmentation 
  • Discover voids or areas for improvement in your existing fundraising system 

Trend analysis is a great opportunity for your development department to discover how to make your fundraising system more effective and even improve donor relations. For example, try comparing the dollars raised in past years and see if you notice any trends or correlations. Did you notice individual donor contributions decreasing or reaching a plateau in the past 2 years? If so, think back on the fundraising campaigns that you launched during that 2-year period. How did they differ (in scope, timing, execution, marketing) from the years when revenue was higher? 

It’s also important to analyze qualitative response data for trends among your donors or members. Use survey research to discover what they want, need, and why (or why not) they choose to become members or donors. You can also assess whether certain services or programs are still sustainable for your not-for-profit. 

Trend Analysis with Vault
Remember, while broad macro-level research is a great starting point, tailored research provides the best opportunity for your not-for-profit to reap long-term benefits. At Vault Consulting, we tailor our research services to help your not-for-profit discover valuable trends to meet its goals. We take a comprehensive approach while helping you grow the sustainability of your organization over time, so it thrives. If you need help with trend analysis, contact us for more information about our market research services.

Ian Santo Domingo, MBA
Ian Santo Domingo, MBA
Ian has been leading teams in the association industry for over two decades, including a decade of leading auditing efforts for a tech industry event with hundreds of thousands in attendance. He embraces the...
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