How Volunteer Expertise Brought a Membership Dashboard to Life

What better time to showcase what volunteers did for a small-staff association than National Volunteer Week? A complex project involving intimidating software was solved by data-savvy members who stepped in to get the job done.

Keeping member data updated is hard enough, but taking on a project with complicated software is an even heavier lift. In the case of one small-staff association, harnessing volunteers’ expertise proved to be an excellent solution.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology has a staff of 11 serving 9,000 members. With her team spread thin, Jayne Tegge, SIOP’s member engagement manager, was thrilled when the organization’s membership analytics subcommittee took on the task of creating a member dashboard using Tableau, a sophisticated data visualization platform.

“Because data collection and analysis and making evidence-based decisions are crucial to part of what our members actually do for their jobs, they took the ball and ran with it,” Tegge said.

The new dashboard will be useful for analyzing data and creating insights, giving Tegge a more accurate picture of who is engaged, who is paying their dues, what the retention rate is, and what the different drivers of that retention are. And it will provide segmentation information among members, retirees, associates, fellows, and more. An unexpected additional benefit? It is also useful for SIOP’s members to know more about each other.

“Understanding more about membership, demographics, and trends really does serve as a proxy for the study of industrial and organizational psychology as a profession and what’s happening in our field,” said Amy DuVernet, the subcommittee’s cochair.

Safeguard Member Data

Collecting demographic data can be challenging, but the best way to get it is to ask for it. Trust is key.

“The only way to ask for it is to be fully transparent about why you want and need it, what you’re planning to do with it, and how you’ll safeguard it,” Vicki Deal-Williams, FASAE, CAE, chief staff officer for multicultural affairs at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, told me last year when I spoke to her about how associations can collect better diversity and inclusion data.

Tegge says SIOP takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard member data, including their demographic and identity-related information. “We are committed to welcoming more representative voices in all aspects of our association’s community, but to do so we must have a clear picture of who our members are and how we can best service their needs,” she said.

When the subcommittee began tackling the dashboard project, it requested member data from the SIOP’s AMS. A staff analyst devised a system using identifying numbers for members to provide the subcommittee with aggregated data that did not include any member personal information.

Involve Trusted Members

What if you don’t happen to have a group of volunteers with data expertise who are ready to devote their time to such a big undertaking?

“My recommendations for any association that contracts out for such an initiative would be to make sure there were some really knowledgeable and trusted members involved in the project,” DuVernet said. “Someone who could help inform decisions and provide information about how members would use the dashboard and review the output from that external provider before it was shared broadly, given the sensitivity of the data.”

SIOP’s membership team will reveal the new dashboard next month, along with a campaign encouraging all members to update their profiles so they can be represented. They’ll promote the dashboard in a weekly newsletter and on social media platforms.

“Our members will benefit from access to general information about membership demographics across the last five years through this dashboard,” DuVernet said.

What is your association doing to keep member data updated? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

(NatalyaBurova/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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