Data Visualization: What It Is & Why It Matters to Your Association

Data Has a Better Idea
Is your association making use of business intelligence software and data visualizations?

By Tom Masiello, Solution Consultant   

Following our webinar with Web Courseworks CEO Jon Aleckson and Don Worthley, software architect of Element 11, my colleague reviewed the ways in which your association can prove member ROI with data analytics by evaluating your association’s data maturity and big data strategies. But another central theme emerged from that online session: How data visualization revolutionizes your association’s ability to make data-driven decisions. 

What is Data Visualization? 

You probably have a lot of information in your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, but it can be difficult to visualize those endless rows of data to understand the story it tells about your association’s membership. That’s where data visualization comes in.  

According to SAShere’s how data visualization is defined: 

Data visualization is the presentation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. It enables decision makers to see analytics presented visually, so they can grasp difficult concepts or identify new patterns. With interactive visualization, you can take the concept a step further by using technology to drill down into charts and graphs for more detail, interactively changing what data you see and how it’s processed. 

Analyzing the numbers by row and column is an unnecessary drab. There are plenty of business intelligence tools available now that will provide data visualizationincluding PC Mag Editor’s Choice Award winner: Microsoft Power BI 

Aside from Power BI, here are a few other options to consider: 

Why Should Your Association Use Data Visualization? 

In a time of automation, streamlining and integration with thirdparty apps, your executive management team needs data visualization tools to make faster and smarter decisions. Data visualization can give you and your colleagues a foundation to develop your member value framework. 

With many of these platforms, you can input coding formulas to automate advanced calculations and create standardized visualization templates (graphs, tables and charts). Then, you can adjust your dashboards to include the specific reports that you need, along with the ability to share it with your appropriate colleagues for further collaboration on enterprise membership projects.  

So, for example, as part of the overall Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform ecosystem and integrated with Office 365, Power BI users can combine hundreds of data sets to view a full scope of internal operations, membership and future market opportunities. Your board of directors can access this data through a link that updates views in real time – which means no more outdated materials in PDFs and Word documents. 

What is a Member Value Framework? 

The ability to develop a “member value framework,” as Don and Jon put it, is another major benefit of data visualization. This framework is a model that tracks and “scores” how well you are providing your products and services to members, as well as what members can do on the user end to optimize the value of their membership. These scores are arbitrary, but if implemented effectively, can get more engagement from your membership. 

Measurable categories that could be included in member value frameworks range from community resources downloadsevent participation and engagement, and professional development certifications completed. The member value framework should focus on categories where your association’s draws most of its non-dues revenue streams. 

Closing Thoughts 

It’s clear that data visualization will continue to drive business intelligence in the nonprofit industry as association leaders look to new software tools to gain an in-depth view of their membership. Investments are being directed toward cloud computing, which means that users can pull data from cloud-connected appsExpect more internal governance from associations to protect member data while government agencies continue to work on regulations for consumer data privacy. 

For more on data visualization and proving member ROI, download our free webinar, co-hosted by Web Courseworks. 

About the Author 

Joining the Protech team in 2019 as a Support Consultant, Tom Masiello has a passion for helping Protech customers find the solutions they need to move their association forward. In addition to handling cases for our clients, Tom creates custom Protech LX datasets and reports. These contributions give association executives valuable insight on membership analytics, allowing them to make informed decisions and exceed business expectations.