Impact is What Matters Most

Impact metrics was one of the key takeaways that resonated with participants in Jeffrey Cufaude’s recent VMAE | Live! webinar on “Successful Associations Know When To Say No.”  If you missed the live session, you can watch the archived webinar here.  Given the interest members indicated in impact metrics, Jeffrey (who is president and CEO of Idea Architects, and who will be presenting and facilitating the VMAE | Fall Conference 2019) agreed to share some additional thoughts about impact metrics.

Imagine you just concluded your annual meeting. Registrations, sponsorships, and overall revenues all increased. Attendee satisfaction improved by 15%.  Seems like you hit a home run, right?

Maybe not if you consider impact metrics versus activity metrics.  Activity metrics give you points for the mere act of doing.  Impact metrics reward you only if what you’re doing moves the needle on the things that matter most.

Take the annual conference example. Two possible impact areas to assess are (1) networking/community building and (2) learning/advancing professional practice.  Did conference attendance grow registrants’ professional networks in meaningful ways? Did conference content improve professional practices that in turn, produced better results for clients?  If the answer to either is no, it’s hard to say the event was truly successful based on its lack of meaningful impact.

It is too easy for association staff and volunteer leaders to equate doing a lot of stuff with having a lot of success, falling into the “activity trap.”  But the metrics that matter most are the ones that measure how you do on realizing your mission, vision, and strategy. Insight about your impact can then inform critical decisions about resource allocation and individual program design.

While some of your stakeholders might indeed reward you with an A for effort, what every association should strive for is earning an A for impact.


Learn more about impact metrics, or “mission accomplished metrics,” in this excellent short post for BoardSource from Robert M. Sheehan, Jr., Ph.D., Academic Director, Executive MBA Program, University of Maryland