The Big Deal About Data for a Small Association

Amy Hager

Have you ever had one of those weeks (or months) where one thing leads to another and then suddenly a light bulb goes off in your head? Let me explain my past month and my discovery with data.

Earlier this month at the Aspiring Executive Leaders CEO Lens series, we heard a great presentation from Debbie King and David DeLorenzo, CAE on how to better analyze and present your association data. Click here to find the recording of the presentation and more!

A week later, I was sitting with my board at our strategic planning meeting where I had given the board members data and information ahead of time so we could create new strategic goals. The single-dimensional data and information I provided wasn’t what they needed, so we decided to take a step back and collect the data points needed to appropriately move forward with our planning.

Data collection, analysis and presentation are SO important when it comes to making well-educated decisions for our associations. Otherwise, we are just guessing and it becomes frustrating. Besides collecting hard – or head data – we need to collect the heart data, too. How do we get to that multi-dimensional layer to assist with our decision making?

One major thing discussed by King and DeLorenzo is a “Data Mart,” which is basically the center of your data universe where all data points come together to create a multi-dimensional view.


The typical data collected from an annual meeting is very single-dimensional: who attended, what is their title/role and what percent of the total attendees fall into that category of membership. The multi-dimensional example has additional detail of distance traveled, their primary responsibilities, staff size and revenue.


As you are planning for your next location of the annual meeting, wouldn’t the multi-dimensional data help you find a better location or stronger educational sessions to speak to those attendees? I think so!

Because I am with a smaller organization and I know I can’t purchase a large product or spend money on this activity, I am wondering what additional questions I can ask of my members in registrations and surveys to get more information about them to pull into a Data Mart and help guide our future decisions. One of the first steps shared at the presentation by King and DeLorenzo is to find the “Scope” and then “Collect.” If you are past that, cleaning the data and then analyzing comes next. The final step is to communicate that data to shareholders and decision makers. I’m still at step one today but look forward to building a Data Mart for my association. Has your association had success with building a data model like this? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author
Amy Hager

Amy Hager has been an Informz client since June 2010 and is the Informz Client Advisory Board Director. When not working hard for the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia, Amy enjoys taking in the sights of DC, wine and cider tasting in Virginia and planning mini getaways with her husband and friends.