Our webinar, ASAE: The NDR Story, explored the evolution of ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership and ABSI’s key non-dues revenue drivers. From a robust career center, to engaging communications vehicles and comprehensive sponsorship programs, their story is unique within the association industry.
Karl Ely, CAE, senior vice president and publisher for ASAE and Betsy Piper/Bach, JD, CFP, CIMA, president for ASAE Business Solutions (ABSI), spent several minutes at the end of the webinar answering attendee questions. We’ve transcribed their responses below.
Q: Did you see a positive impact on your NDR when you shifted from the sponsorship environment to the alliance program that you launched? If so, what do you think was the driver of the positive impact? Did it take time to see that shift?
Karl Ely, CAE: Yes, it took time because there was no one else in the space doing what ASAE did. So, people needed time to absorb the idea and work it into their organization’s budget. They may have wanted to know who else was planning to participate. About the 10th year, we maxed out participation and set a cap at 32 companies we would work with. We now have an active pipeline of organizations that want to get in. It’s a nice problem to have, controlling your pipeline’s size.
On the financial side, you can’t expect to simply and quickly launch a program of that size. We needed to staff up first. We look at the program from two perspectives: Gross and net performance. “Gross” is the overall health of the program and how well it has been accepted by the community. The “net” or net margin is how well we’re managing it. We’re happy to say it has been a winner on both levels. We have a number of organizations that commit to the program for 3 years and then re-commit for another 3. Our repeat customers are the best financial indicator of success.
Q: How often do you survey your members about products and services they might have an interest in?
Betsy Piper/Bach, JD, CFP, CIMA: We conduct an overall, general survey about non-dues revenue business offerings once every five years. We conduct more focused ones every couple of years. ASAE surveys its members about their needs every year and passes along information about our specific division.
Q: Are ASAE’s 32 industry partners also members? Is membership a requirement to become a partner?
Ely: It’s not a requirement to be an ASAE member to join the Alliance Partnership Program, but many individuals belonging to these organizations are already members. These are 32 organizations highly engaged with ASAE already. They’re likely volunteering some time with us already. They’re attending events with us regularly, and there are benefits built into their membership that make it easier to financially manage. So it’s not a requirement but a natural part of being a partner.
The assets for the organization that we build into these partnerships include a certain number of memberships per partner, usually based on their needs. It’s a customized option in the partnership.
Q: How far in advance do you plan for your new offerings?
Piper/Bach: For us, it can be three years. If we start working on an idea today, it often won’t go live for at least a year. The reason is that we have several steps we go through to take an idea live. It can be anywhere from 8 months to three years.
Ely: I struggle to come up with a representation, but sometimes timing demands that an idea happen sooner – as in, over the next month or so. Other pieces that we work on are significantly heavy lifts. For example, the Xperience Design Project was a two-year planning cycle.
Q: Is there a reason that contributed to the nearly doubled growth in subscribers for Associations Now Daily News?
Ely: There are segments of Daily News that are pushed out through social media, and people become familiar with us through that channel. We’ve also been sourced by Google News. There are a lot of sourcing techniques that lead people to Daily News. They’re not paying a fee to subscribe, but are subscribing and giving us four to five personal data points about them in exchange.
ASAE’s membership model changed, increasing our organization membership from 21,000 to 47,000 in three years. That has driven some subscription growth. However, I think out of ASAE’s now 57,000 members, probably about 20,000 are members who don’t subscribe to Daily News.