Research for Impact: Using Evidence to Power Association Work

Explore how associations gather and use evidence to make decisions, cultivate internal and external support, and develop and execute strategic visions.

Research for Impact

Research for Impact resources are designed to help association professionals develop a better understanding of:

  • The Value of an Evidence-Based Culture
  • How to be Data-Driven with Limited Resources
  • Building Trust Through Evidence-Based Communications
  • Using Data for Strategic Planning

Primary Resources

The inspiration for Research for Impact came from the ASAE Research Foundation study, Impact Every Day. While data and other evidence are the foundation for impactful initiatives, that study found that association leaders often struggle to use data—or talk about how they use data—in advancing their important work. Read the findings from Impact Every Day and explore case studies that describe how to use data to make an impact.


The Value of an Evidence-Based Culture

Resources on using data to shift how you work and the value of switching to a data-driven mindset.


Let’s Talk Research: A Culture & Data Townhall

View the Recorded Peer Exchange

An open-forum, peer-exchange addressing challenges and barriers association professionals experience when establishing and maintaining a data-driven culture.

Facilitated by Nicole Araujo, CAE, Client Engagement Director, Mighty Citizen; and, Reggie Henry, CAE, Chief Information & Engagement Officer, ASAE.


The Value of a Data-Driven Culture and How to Make It Happen in Your Organization

View the Recorded Panel Discussion

Everyone is talking about the importance of using data, but fewer people are confident about how to create a data-driven culture. Hear stories from associations that have been transformed by an evidence-based approach to their work.

This panel discussion surfaces benefits and barriers when using data to inform your work; outlines the characteristics of a data-driven culture, and how to foster it; offers tips for setting expectations with the board; and explores the fundamental elements of conducting research and data analyses.


  • Susan Chung, PhD, VP Research and Knowledge, American Society of Interior Designers
  • Bob London, CAE, ED, Alpha Phi Omega
  • Katherine Matthews, CAE, Manager Data & Analytics, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
  • Mike Steckel, Dir of UX, Mighty Citizen
  • Facilitated by: Tom Southard, CAE, COO, Conference of Major Superiors of Men


Additional Resources:

Measuring Performance: Purpose, Process, and Practice provides examples of how associations are approaching performance measurement and identifies challenges to, and lessons learned from, their processes.

Associations Innovate: The Journey from Intent to Action provides a set of guidelines and recommendations for association leaders to use in implementing and improving innovation in their organizations and industries.

Informed Associations: A Practical Guide for Using Research for Results highlights the importance of data-based decision making as well as the limitations of the data and provides guidance on the right questions to ask to gather data that will be meaningful and useful. 

Fast Data in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond is a recorded virtual panel discussion from spring 2020 that looked at how associations were taking a data-driven approach to decision making in the face of the pandemic.


How to be Data-Driven with Limited Resources

Resources that provide techniques and tips on collecting and using data when constrained by limited resources.


How to Be “Data-Driven” with Limited Resources

View the Recorded Panel Discussion

Leaders and teams with small budgets, small staff sizes, or other resource limitations may feel challenged to gather the data and other evidence they need to advance their work.

This panel discussion offers actionable steps when gathering data on a limited budget; considers the possibilities of sourcing third-party data; surfaces benefits of research-partnerships with external sources and higher-ed institutions; and posits a variety of tips and tools on setting expectations with the boards and staff.


  • Enid-Mai Jones, MA, MEd, CVEP, CDE, SVP of The Beacon Institute, LifeSpan Network
  • Laura Lewis, CCO, CREW Network
  • Wendy-Jo Toyama, CAE, CEO, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Facilitated by: Christina Lewellen, CAE, ED, The Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools


Additional Resources:

Association Compensation & Benefits Study, 2020-2021 Edition. Data collection and the use of its findings doesn’t only have to come from within your organization. External sources, like ASAE’s Association Compensation & Benefits Study and other benchmarking studies, can provide associations with limited resources the data they need at nominal costs and labor.

Benefits of Benchmarking takes a look at the value of associations making smart comparisons of their organization’s operating ratios and other metrics to those of similar organizations to create a baseline for performance improvement. 

AssociaMetrics, ASAE’s most comprehensive set of data resources, including results of compensation and benefits studies, research on association financial and operational performance, and organizational assessments that measure technology readiness, global maturity, and DEI practices. 


Building Trust Through Evidence-Based Communications

Resources that highlight how associations have used evidence to advance public awareness, gain support for major initiatives, and position the organization as a trusted source of information.


Using Data and Communications to Advance Your Industry and Your Impact

View the Recorded Panel Discussion

Members count on associations to represent their interests to the government, the public, and key stakeholders, but trust in institutions across sectors is falling. How do leaders build confidence in their organizations and the fields they serve, especially when faced with public distrust or uncertainty?

This panel discussion features examples of how associations became a trusted source for credible and validated research; suggests ways to leverage communications and media to influence members and external audiences; provides insights on methods and techniques for creating WOW publicity with research and data; and offers tips and tools to increase the association’s value perception to key stakeholders.


  • Jonathan Lovitz, SVP, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
  • Magdalena Mook, CEO, International Coaching Federation
  • Jevin West, Associate Professor & Director, Center for an Informed Public, Information School, University of Washington
  • Facilitated by: Ben Rome, Sr Manager of Communications, AIHA


Additional Resources:

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Impact Every Day case study highlights how the association used data to highlight the important role of the LGBT community in supporting the American economy and build recognition of LGBT business owners. 

Drive Your Organization's Story Through Culture and Data is an article by C-level executives on using research as the backbone for organizational storytelling and engagement strategies.  

Association Content Strategies for a Changing World provides insight into effective tactics and approaches for better delivery of content and consistent messaging to key audiences. 

Build Your Reputation as a Trusted Source is an article that cites foundation research to make a case for amplifying evidence to build public confidence.  


Using Data for Strategic Planning

Resources that explore the value of data and evidence as the foundation for strategic planning and invites you to imagine how associations might use evidence to foster transformative thinking across their industries and fields.


Harnessing Evidence for Strategic Planning and Envisioning Change

View the Recorded Panel Discussion

Many associations use strategic plans to guide their activities—but how can leaders be sure the plan reflects members’ needs? How do leaders recover when things go sideways?

This panel discussion shares stories and lessons learned from association leaders on applying data throughout the strategic planning process; offers tools and resources level-up strategic planning; examines leveraging data for transformational change, and what that means; and how foresight may play a role in mission advancement.


  • Lynette Bradley-Baker, PhD, CAE, RPh, SVP of Public Affairs and Engagement, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
  • Wendy Mann, CAE, CEO, CREW Network
  • Monika Schulz, CAE, ED and CEO, National Society of Professional Engineers
  • Oliver Yandle, JD, CAE, President & CEO, Arizona Society of CPAs
  • Facilitated by: Lowell Aplebaum, CPF, FASAE, CAE, Professional Facilitator CEO & Strategy Catalyst, Vista Cova, LLC.


Additional Resources:

ASAE ForesightWorks is a set of research-based resources designed to help leaders think strategically about the future, drive conversations with staff and volunteer leaders, and prepare for changes ahead. 

Develop Partnerships to Expand Impact is an article that explores the collaborative approach associations can use to broaden an initiative’s reach, helping leaders and members think differently about challenges before them. 

Transformational Governance: How Boards Achieve Extraordinary Change focuses on the stages and processes CEOs and their staff used to transform boards to bring about significant changes for positive effect. 

Advancing Business-Venture Innovation a five-report series on business-innovation readiness of healthcare associations and association acuity in eight performance areas, or domains, identified as necessary for business-venture innovation. 



A special thank you to our volunteers, donors, and members for their support in successfully presenting ASAE Research Foundation’s first research awareness campaign.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the ASAE Research Foundation at