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You Can’t Measure Success without Clear Objectives

I was speaking with two contacts at a client of mine about their multiple membership programs. One of the programs they told me about had 1,500 individual members paying $100 each (which by my math is $150,000 annually). They were asking my advice on whether the program was priced correctly.

I asked, ” What’s the objective of the membership? $150,000 annually sounds pretty successful to me.”

The first replied: “Well, earning money isn’t the most important objective. Our goal is to expand the reach of the membership.”

The second replied, “That’s true, except at our last board meeting, the board was concerned that this membership class had not reached budget.” (It was $5,000 short against budget.)

My response: “Before we can measure success we have to know how we’re measuring it. There could be a single measurement, like number of members, or total revenue, or net revenue after expenses. Or it could be a combination of those and others. But there has to be some agreed upon objective against which we can measure our progress; otherwise we’ll never know if we’re succeeding.”

Several of my clients have moved to a free membership model. Their focus and objective is not to raise money (obviously) but to extend the reach of their influence, expand the base of their membership, and further their mission through free programs. There’s nothing wrong with that model, as long as the objectives are clear to everyone.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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