Budgeting for a Brighter 2024: How to Measure Success and Plan Ahead

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November 30, 2023

As the end of 2023 is quickly approaching, association leaders are analyzing budgets and planning for 2024. A key part of the budgeting process is figuring out what initiatives and programs were successful this year and deserve continued or increased funding next year. Measuring the ROI (quantitative and qualitative) and deciding the success of events, products, and services is critical for making data-driven budget decisions.

Quantitative ROI

According to a recent survey, 65% of associations say measuring ROI and program impact is a high priority for their organization. To measure success, associations should analyze both quantitative metrics like revenue, attendance, and membership growth as well as qualitative feedback from members and partners. Events that sold out, exceeded revenue targets, or received highly positive reviews from attendees are clear winners that should receive funding in 2024. New educational programs that gained a lot of participation or certifications that saw strong uptake are also likely successful and worth continuing.

On the other hand, products, services, or events that did not meet key performance indicators may need to be cut or overhauled for the new budget year. If a new conference struggled with attendance or a membership benefit saw little usage, it may make sense to eliminate or reimagine it. Associations have a responsibility to members to spend dues and fees on high-impact, high-value initiatives. By measuring success and using data to make budget decisions, associations can strategically cut underperforming programs and double down on the solutions that best serve members.

Speaking of membership dues ... financial stability is integral to the success of any association. Monitoring revenue generation and managing expenses effectively ensures the organization's sustainability and ability to fulfill its mission. By comparing revenue figures from previous years with the current year, you can evaluate the impact of your association's initiatives, such as membership growth, events, sponsorships, and partnerships. Positive revenue growth reflects the financial health of your association and its ability to invest in member programs, services, and advocacy efforts.

Carefully measuring the quantitative success of key programs and using those insights to shape the 2024 budget will help set associations—and their members—up for growth and impact. Success today leads to a thriving tomorrow.

Qualitative ROI

To measure success for your association, review your key performance indicators. Look at metrics like membership numbers, event attendance, certification rates, and website assets to see where you've grown and improved over 2023.

  • Membership: According to the Association Membership Benchmark Report, 57% of associations saw membership growth in 2022. For those with increased membership, look at what new benefits, events, or recruitment campaigns coincided with the boost in numbers. These are likely contributors to your success and worth investing in again. For those with declining membership, examine what may have caused the decrease and how to remedy it. Consider surveying members to find out what they value most and want to see more of.
  • Events: Another vital metric to consider is event attendance. For many associations, events account for a significant portion of total revenue. Closely tracking attendance numbers, sponsorships, and feedback from surveys will help you determine whether or not an event is successful. If you see an increase in registrants or exhibitors, consider what contributed to that boost. However, if an event didn't meet revenue goals or received poor reviews, it should be reevaluated or potentially cut.
  • Certifications: If your association offers certification programs, tracking certification rates is an essential KPI to measure success. Members seeking certification demonstrate an eagerness to enhance their skills and expertise within their field. Monitoring certification rates over the year allows you to identify trends, assess member satisfaction with the program, and make necessary improvements. Higher certification rates indicate that your association is meeting the needs of its members in terms of professional development and recognition.
  • Website assets: Website and social media analytics also provide useful data on what’s working. Things like increases in site traffic, page views, social media followers and engagement, and click-through rates on email campaigns show where your audiences’ interests lie. Devote resources to creating more content and community engagement around those topics and channels.

With a clear picture of your successes and impact this year, you can now thoughtfully plan your budget for 2024. Look for ways to improve upon what’s working, remedy what’s not, and take advantage of new opportunities on the horizon. By measuring key metrics and listening to your members and community, your association will be poised to make the coming year even brighter. 

Conclusion

When determining your association's budget for next year, look for places you can trim excess costs. Things like unused subscriptions, inefficient processes, and outdated technologies are all areas where you may be able to cut back and reallocate funds to higher-priority, revenue-generating initiatives. You should also consider sunsetting any events, products or services that are underperforming or not contributing value.

Remember, success is not achieved in isolation but is dependent on the continuous assessment and adaptation of your association's strategies to meet the evolving needs of your members and industry. By staying focused on key performance indicators, your association can thrive and make a lasting impact in the years to come.

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