Tonnis van Dam

Why is benchmarking so important for associations and their members?

Benchmarking among members, 70% of the associations want to do it, but only 30% manages to conduct benchmarking. Off course, professional associations do sometimes conduct surveys among their members, but those are more customer satisfaction surveys, about how the members experience the association. Real benchmarking surveys focus on member insight and improvement. And are of much value for both the association and the members.

Why is benchmarking important for the association?

Help them improve

Regardless if you have a professional association, trade association, society or federation, you should know what is eating your members. You need to know this, so you can adjust your service to them. The more you know about their concerns, their pains, their gains, their obstacles, etc., the more you are able to help them. Benchmarking is asking about them, not about you. And then compare them with their peers, for better insights and possible improvements. Benchmarking gives professionals and organisations insights in how they are doing compared to their peers. Benchmarking is important to help your members improve.

Besides helping your members, you help yourself, because you get really valuable market and member information. With this information you are better prepared for advocacy, which can have more impact.

Unique value-added service

By offering benchmarking surveys to your members, which are not available on the market, you create a unique value added service for your members. This could be a reason for them to retain their membership and for non-members to become member.

Revenue model

For a really good benchmarking service, which is really relevant for your members and with which they can really improve, members are willing to pay. Associations are looking for new services to offer to their members. Members are asking for more individual services and want to have more bang for the buck. Benchmarking could be an interesting revenue model, by asking a participation fee or selling the reports.

Industry standards

Benchmarking also helps in setting industry standards. One of the existence reasons for associations is safeguarding the quality of the profession or the organisations. Benchmarking helps getting insights in the quality of each member, but also helps each member to see how it performs on these standards compared to peers.

Increase the branding

Increase the branding of the association could be a large benefit in retaining and acquiring members. When you offer benchmarking services, you say to the market that you care about your members. That you want to help them. You also demonstrate forward thinking. An organisation who has the choice of becoming member of two similar associations, will chose the one who wants to help their members improve.


NEVAT is the Dutch trade association with 170 ambitious affiliated suppliers. Their mission or value proposition is: “All NEVAT activities are focussed on creating an as large as possible corporate result for its members to enhance their market position. NEVAT supports companies to become more professional, to innovate, and to stand out in technology and operational management.” NEVAT uses benchmarking studies to help their members innovate and to comply to their mission. And they use benchmarking to support business coaching, which both support performance improvement. Both their benchmarking studies and business coaching increase the satisfaction, engagement and retention of their members. Benchmarking is used to anticipate trends and needs in industry and to open conversation with the members about the need to innovate.

Wrap up

For associations, it could be quite interesting to offer benchmarking to their members. I discussed why you should offer benchmarking to your members. Why should you do it?

Learn more

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We supply the tools

Our intelligent online do-it-yourself Benchmark Tool has been created to make you successful in benchmarking. We support you with useful gadgets in all parts of the process managing your benchmark.

  • Online questionnaire with realtime calculations
  • Analysis and validation tools embedded into the same tool
  • Online reporting through dashboards
  • Offline reporting through generated pdf reports