Association Communications Benchmarking Series

Help Set a Course for the Future: Take the 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking Survey

By Brianna Martin • May 5, 2020

Another day, another organization asking you to take a survey. Why participate in association surveys when you could be working on something else?

Protect Your Association from Future Failure

One reason is that the knowledge we gain from survey results is protection against future harm. Consider the COVID-19 outbreak that began earlier this year. Although the World Health Organization classified it as a global pandemic, health agencies around the world were able to mitigate its spread by issuing this preventive advice: Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Cover your cough. Stay away from individuals who might have the virus, and quarantine yourself if you display the known symptoms.

When you pay attention to surveys, you set your association up to protect itself against future failure by learning new information about strategies and tactics that work, best practices that no longer work, false claims, and new truisms. You can use such knowledge to set a better, more informed direction toward your mission and goals.

Voice Your Association’s Communication Priorities

But it’s not enough to just sit back and watch survey results come in. For a survey to truly work for all interested in its data, everyone should participate. Consider last year’s Canadian elections and the upcoming American elections. Forming a government that prioritizes the most important needs of its citizens requires as many people as possible to voice their priorities.

In elections, we do this by attending town halls, holding discussions with others, and politicians, and most importantly, by voting for the leaders who promise to carry out our top priorities. For an association survey to accurately report on the top priorities of the association community and how association executives should approach them, doing your part by participating in such surveys is required.

Put in the Work to Achieve Greatness

A third reason to participate is that reaping the rewards of successful association life requires time and effort, just like achieving greatness in sports requires time, effort and lots of training. Consider the unfolding stories of Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu and American runner Molly Seidel. Andreescu entered the 2019 tennis season ranked 152nd in the world. Not shabby, but not No. 1 either. However, she unexpectedly beat Serena Williams in the women’s 2019 U.S. Open last September, becoming the first Canadian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title. Similarly, Seidel wasn’t known for distance running before qualifying for the February 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, but trained like she was a top distance runner anyway – and placed 2nd in her first marathon race ever, earning a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

If your association wants to be successful, putting in the work requires time and effort dedicated to offering up data about your association’s current situation, and what you plan to do about it.

Which brings us to the ask: The 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking Survey is now open, and we’re looking for association executives from organizations of all sizes, demographics, industries and budgets to tell us what their communication landscape looks like, what’s going well, and what needs improvement. Our annual survey provides useful data about the state of association communications as well as insights into what communication trends association communicators should watch for in the now, near and far. Now in its ninth year, the survey has become a valuable tool for associations wanting to know how well their communications are performing compared to peer organizations, and what steps they should take to serve their members better through improved communication practices.

This year, in an effort to help associations understand how others in the community are navigating communications in the COVID-19 climate, specific questions about the impact of the coronavirus have been added. We’ll also be releasing the results of this year’s survey in our benchmarking report in June, two months earlier than usual.

Some of the benefits of taking the 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking Survey:

  • Early access to customizable reports.
  • See how your responses compare to your peers in similarly situated associations.
  • Receive a unique Best Practices Score and Report Card that allows you to easily evaluate your performance and provides information to help improve your communications efforts.
  • Help us contribute to a good cause. This year, for every respondent who completes at least 50% of the survey, Naylor will donate $10 to the World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsForAmerica program, which distributes meals to children, families and seniors in communities across the country that need support.

With your honest, anonymous assessment of how well your communication strategy is working, we can provide an accurate picture of how associations of all sizes, membership models and industries are doing at member communication. Your input is needed and valued!

Gain Access to Peer Comparisons in our Annual Benchmarking Report

In addition to the benefits above, your participation helps us produce our annual, free Association Communications Benchmarking Report. Our report lays out how you and your peers are achieving goals. It discusses how factors like staff and budget size, frequency of communication, and amount of planning affect the success (or failure) of association communications. The report helps your association figure out communication solutions that fit your resources and fulfill your mission.

Some highlights from last year’s study include:

Knowing the top communication challenges associations are facing:

Chart showing the 2019 Top 5 Communication Challenges

Knowing how many of you are customizing your communications, and for whom:

Graphic showing the percentages of associations that customize their communications for different member subgroups

And knowing that while new tech is worth exploring, print remains a reliable way to communicate with members:

Pie chart showing hte percentages of associations that communicate with their members via print

Help us stay on top of existing and unforeseen communication challenges. Participate in setting communication priorities for the association community. Do your part to help all associations achieve communication greatness. Take our 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking Survey today.

About The Author

Brianna Martin is a corporate marketing specialist with Naylor Association Solutions.