Capturing Association Impact
Impact Every Day, the title for the ASAE Research Foundation’s centennial research initiative, both describes the essential nature of association work and calls association leaders to action. The multi-year study delivered evidence that supports the Power of A message: that society is better, safer, and smarter because of work that associations do. Moreover, the efforts of associations in several key areas are seen as important in the past and present—and increasingly important in the future—by a range of association professionals, members and nonmembers, and external stakeholders.
A set of case studies shines a light on association contributions to education, safety and protection, and the economy and workforce development. The research also underscores associations’ future opportunities. In that way, it serves as both documentation and launchpad—for communicating associations’ value to external stakeholders, such as policymakers and prospective workforce talent, and for encouraging engagement across organizations to support association impact in the future.
This project was too big for the ASAE Research Foundation to tackle alone. The foundation collaborated with McKinley Advisors and Westat, Inc., to identify and explore the past impacts and critical future roles of associations.
- Associations are perceived as playing a critical and highly valued role in society. The research explored perceptions among thought leaders and a sample of association members and stakeholders, resulting in consistently positive responses. This theme was validated further through the case studies.
- Transformative thinking exists within associations, but not to the degree that it could. Study participants believe that transformative thinking occurs within associations at some level, with most acknowledging that associations serve as ideal venues for this type of thought.
- Industry and thought leaders believe associations should develop more innovative communication strategies, increase collaboration and partnerships across associations and sectors, and promote cross-cutting discussions around big topics of shared importance.
- Among associations that pursue high-impact projects, few formally recognize the role that evidence plays in helping them build stronger, more impactful initiatives. This is true in the early stages of the project, such as assessment or development, but also after the initiative has launched, where clear and measurable metrics are critical to quantifying efficacy and impact.
- Across the case studies, a few common factors emerged for high-impact initiatives. Many of the associations found new ways of working together by developing formal partnerships or coalitions. Associations also leveraged the collective expertise of their members and recognized the importance of advocacy and strategic communications to increase awareness and influence behavior.
Data to Drive the Future of Associations
Westat, Inc., surveyed members, nonmembers, and other stakeholders of 25 associations—including ASAE—to understand how the role of associations in the past, present, and future is perceived. Read more.
Explore Stories of Association Impact
The case studies collected by McKinley Advisors for Impact Every Day illustrate the breadth of impact associations make on society in key areas:
Benchmarking in Pursuit of Sustainability
Continuous Learning for Better Standards of Care
Making Mental Health First Aid as Common as CPR
Training College Students to Intervene
Turning an Association Into a Mission-Centered Lab
Understanding Ecosystem Responses as Part of Wood Production
Safety and Protection
Advocating to Raise U.S. Infrastructure Grades
Collaborating for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening
Establishing Recognition for the Chronic Pain Community
Joining Forces in Disaster Recovery
Making “Justice for All” a Reality
Partnering in Support of Vulnerable Patients
Protecting Consumers by Filtering Out Fraud
Raising Standards for Formula to Change Global Health
Technology for Global Good
Workforce Development and the Economy
Advocating for Patients' Access to Hospice Care
Creating Best Practices for Public Wayfinding Systems
Inspiring the Next Generation of Restaurant Leaders
Overcoming Historic Barriers for Black-Owned Businesses
Propelling the LGBT Economy Into the National Conversation
Share Your Story of Association Impact
If you are part of the association community, your work touches more people than you might imagine. Tell the story of how you and your organization are making an impact by sharing on social media with the hashtag #impacteveryday, and then challenge a colleague or friend to do the same!
The Impact Every Day website is designed to help you share this research—and the story of association impact—with those outside of the association community. Share it with members, policymakers, job seekers—anyone you would like to help better understand the kind of work we do and the difference it makes.
About the Research
McKinley Advisors and Westat, Inc., supported the Impact Every Day research using multiple methods across several phases.
- McKinley Advisors, along with ASAE staff and members of the volunteer advisory group, reviewed more than 200 submissions to carefully select 20 case studies that reflect a cross section of the association community and a range of measurably impactful work. McKinley then interviewed representatives from those associations to provide context for and detail about the associations’ processes and the outcomes for their communities.
- Westat deployed surveys of members, nonmembers, and other stakeholders from 25 participating associations, including ASAE, resulting in 1,907 member/nonmember/stakeholder responses and 284 association professional responses. Respondents were asked for their perspectives on association contributions (past, present, and future) to society, to the field, and to individuals.
- Westat also delivered 23 interviews with leaders from across sectors (business, education, nonprofit, public, and government) about their perspectives on association contributions to society, impact on preparing fields for change, and efforts to foster transformative thinking.