Skip to content

Planning and Tracking Your Association’s Success

Feb 19, 2020

“If your association is as successful as you’d like it to be…then don’t change anything.” – Ben Markens

Odds are, your association doesn’t fall into this category. Even the most successful companies and organizations across the globe consistently strive to improve. After all, what’s the worst enemy of progress? Complacency!

Whether you want to grow your association or use your resources more effectively, set your sites on a measurable outcome and make a plan to get there.

It’s About Focus, Not Discipline

You put in effort every day: leading your association, directing volunteers, and rolling up your sleeves to help around the office or close new memberships. You have long-term goals and an idea of how to help your association grow.

Yet it isn’t doing nearly as well as you’d like by now.

We see it all the time in the organizations with whom we work – their board members spend more time working in their business instead of on their business. If you’re too deep into the day to day of your association, it’s hard to see the bigger picture.

If this sounds like you, take a step back from the daily grind and find out if you’re on track. Think about what’s most important for your association now, in a year, and in five years. What needs to happen to get your organization where it wants to be? Develop a strategy outlining those tasks and hold your group accountable.

Why Track Your Association’s Performance?

Why do performance measures matter so much? Without them, there’s no way to track how your association is trending towards its goals – that is, until it’s too late.

Milestones, goals, and tracking metrics show which efforts are succeeding and which are wasting your time and resources. With this information in hand, you can pivot and change where necessary to keep trending towards your association’s greater vision.

Having a method for tracking your association’s efforts is beneficial for your volunteers, as well as your decision makers. Your volunteers’ lives are full of distractions and unnecessarily time-consuming processes they use only because “it’s the way it’s always been done.” It’s unsurprising if they feel like they’re just treading water.

This is why people hardly recognize small wins. However, by tracking and highlighting the little steps taken towards success, you can remind your volunteers and board members that their work matters. They remain motivated and your association continues to work toward its greater mission.

The best way to define what matters for your association is to adopt SMART goals.


SMART goals are different than regular metrics. They are uniquely attuned to your association and its current needs. They are designed to keep your team focused on what matters for your association and act as benchmarks for future efforts.

SMART is an acronym that stands for the qualities of the goals you set:

  • Specific
    • Vague goals are hard to achieve and do little in the way of inspiring teams. Make yours specific to keep everyone focused on the task at hand.
  • Measurable
    • If you want to track progress toward them, goals need to be measurable. Having quantifiable goals shows you where you exceed and fall short of expectations.
  • Attainable
    • Be realistic. Setting goals that are beyond your current reach is a surefire way to demotivate your team. By establishing manageable objectives, you keep your team members on track, and each milestone will boost their spirits.
  • Relevant
    • Your goals should pertain to your association and your overarching mission. This ensures that you are trending towards the end goal and not getting sidelined by unnecessary tasks.
  • Time-limited
    • What happens to tasks without deadlines? They get pushed back in lieu of more pressing tasks. The same holds true for your goals. Putting a target date keeps your team focused on the ultimate goal, not just the day-to-day requirements.

Now that you know what SMART goals are, you can change well wishes into attainable, measurable objectives. “We’re going to grow our association” turns into, “We will acquire 5 new members by the end of Q2.”

Stay on Track with the Help of an Association Management Company

Despite having a renewed focus for your organization, even the SMARTest goals can be difficult to achieve for a team stretched too thin. If you find that your board is spending too much time on everyday tasks like processing member requests, you may need more help than you currently have.

Hiring an association management company (AMC) can free you to focus on what matters – strategy. AMCs handle more of the day-to-day tasks of your association, like performing outreach, processing new memberships, planning and executing events, managing finances, and tracking and analyzing your data.

If need be, they can even help develop strategies and goals for your association based on your needs and vision. Don’t keep letting milestones pass you by, set up your association for success with the help of an AMC like the Markens Group.

Posted in


Post Archives