In a dynamic environment, associations are challenged to continually evolve and shape a value proposition that is meaningful to their constituencies. Meeting that challenge requires effective direction, which starts with capable fiduciaries—the board of directors—who are willing to think and act strategically and as a whole. Association staff play an important role in good governance, too. The ASAE Research Foundation conducts governance research to bring to light effective practices, structures, change strategies, and much more—to give association leaders the insights and tools they need to enhance their governance work.

Featured Research

Where Does Board Change Begin?

Read the first chapter from Transformational Governance: How Boards Achieve Extraordinary Change, the book that shares findings from the ASAE Research Foundation’s original research on how various associations created positive board transformations. The chapter takes a look at challenges for associations that need board change, examines the nature of change, and presents several change models.

Effective Governance Practices for Current and Future Success

What does a high-performing board look like? How does a board reinvent itself when a need for change becomes evident? These questions are at the center of the ASAE Research Foundation’s research on governance. The findings identified common features of high-performing boards, as well as characteristics, considerations, and actions of boards that weathered transformational change effectively.

Major Research Initiatives

Ongoing Governance Research

Good governance steers the ship, and make no mistake: Boards matter to organizational performance, a fact underscored in ASAE Research Foundation governance research. Our foundational research into governance practices—covering board structure and size, director competencies, assessment practices, and much more—was the first study to offer a representative snapshot of current governance practices in associations and member-serving organizations. Read More

Beneficial Volunteer Relationships

Ideally, volunteers provide value to the associations they serve and receive value for the time and energy they contribute, but this is not always the case. The ASAE Research Foundation sought to understand the characteristics of association volunteer systems that provide mutual benefit and identify practices that leaders can employ to create mutually beneficial volunteer systems in their own organizations. Read More

Publications and Resources


7 Measures of Success, 2nd Edition: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don’t

Governing for Growth: Using 7 Measures of Success to Strengthen Board Dialogue and Decision Making

Transformational Governance: How Boards Achieve Extraordinary Change

What Makes High-Performing Boards: Effective Governance Practices in Member-Serving Organizations

The Will to Govern Well: Knowledge, Trust & Nimbleness, 2nd Edition

Research Reports and Briefs

Achieving Mutually Beneficial Volunteer Relationships: Summary of Phase I

Assessing Board Performance: An Analysis of ASAE-BoardSource Board Self-Assessment Results

Effective Governance Practices for Current and Future Success


Boards That Spark Innovation

Governing for Good

Support Volunteers As You Do Employees

The Perils of Poor Governance