The Breathtaking Beauty Of Budget Neutrality

Making the case for Data Analytics being budget-neutral in Year One

At most associations, it is difficult to argue that better information is not a good thing – that better understanding your current members, potential members, and the broader constituency would not benefit the organization.

It’s also difficult to argue that Data Analytics, in today’s era of so much member data spread across so many systems, does not provide better information. 

As an association professional, you are probably already aware of at least some of the benefits that improved analytics and reporting would deliver to you and your teams – data insights, trends, member preferences – all of which will help you make decisions with confidence.

What you might not have considered is whether a modern data analytics platform could deliver these benefits – this year – without any net cost to your association. 


First, a solution would have to be quick and easy to implement (so that months aren’t wasted setting up a system and enough of 2020 remains once you’re using it to enjoy real benefits). 

The Nucleus Data Analytics solution was developed specifically for associations. It contains prebuilt dashboards for every role in your association (membership, marketing, events, etc.) – even including dashboards that you might not expect, such as data insights for your board and even your members. 

Implementations average 6 weeks, including creation of new analytics you’d like to add to the existing array – and speed is greatly enhanced because Nucleus already has prebuilt integrations to all the leading association software systems including your association management system (AMS), email marketing system, event registration system, online community, learning management system (LMS), Google Analytics, etc. 

Second, risk is reduced if the solution affordable – and even better, if your association can pay only for data analytics in those areas where you decide it would make the greatest impact.

Unlike most analytics products, the cost of Nucleus does not increase depending on the number of users or amount of data you have. It is provisioned via a site license rather than the more common seat license, so you can feel free to give access to anyone who could benefit. 

Additionally, you can start small with Nucleus and focus on the departments that will deliver the greatest immediate impact. Want to focus on increasing annual conference revenues? Start with the events dashboards and let Nucleus prove its effectiveness at your organization. 

Third, if the solution is to pay for itself in year one, the insights it delivers will have to directly and immediately impact revenue. 

And the proof?  Here are two examples of positive 1st year revenue impact:

1) The Illinois Principals Association (IPA) exists to connect and empower school administrators so that they have the tools necessary to be innovative leaders and educate their staffs to make a difference in their schools and communities.

Like most associations, IPA holds an annual conference. The conference accounts for a significant portion of the organization’s annual revenue and is the best opportunity for face-to-face member engagement. Unfortunately, their registration numbers had decreased in recent years and IPA needed a significant boost to bolster the event’s worth to attendees and the organization.

Using Nucleus, IPA increased their annual event attendance by 30% in Year One.

By pulling together all relevant data from their AMS, Informz email marketing system, and the Higher Logic community into Nucleus, IPA identified where members find value, what they are willing to pay for, and discovered that they could much more strategically include their chapters in promoting annual conference registration by providing every chapter with both a specific registration goal and the means for all chapters to track the results in real time. 

The result was their best-attended conference in eight years. IPA surpassed their conference attendance goals, more than covered all costs of Nucleus, and enjoyed even more opportunities to engage members face-to-face.

“Nucleus is the perfect tool for IPA staff at all levels because it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or training,” Drew Thomason, Director, Marketing and Communications, said. “Data is always up-to-date and accessible to all. No single person or team is dedicated to BI, and everyone can wear multiple hats.”

“It’s been one year with Nucleus, and IPA is just dipping our toes into the ocean of possibilities.”

2) The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is an association of data and analytics professionals – it is the professional home of leading informaticians: clinicians, scientists, researchers, educators, and other informatics professionals who rely on data to connect people, information, and technology.

Even as an association focused on data, AMIA was wrestling with challenges including:

  • No data scientists on staff to write queries needed to explore their data and make discoveries.
  • AMIA’s Board craved frequent access to data, which was difficult for AMIA staff to provide.

AMIA approached Gravitate to assist in answering a set of 16 specific questions about various key performance indicators (KPIs) that would address these challenges and help them—and their board—provide the data to help chart the course of the organization. 

Through their engagement with Gravitate, AMIA has seen the following take shape:

  • Staff is freed up to take a deeper dive into what the numbers mean for successes and challenges in their current programs.
  • The Board has on-demand access to high-level data visualizations profiling the health of the organization, without the staff burden of creating time-intensive manual reports.
  • Queries created during the engagement have surfaced multiple “ah-ha” moments related to member trends and activities.

“Nucleus collects data that resides in our AMS, community platform and marketing system and analyzes it in one place. Without the ability to look at all the data, we were missing trends and overall community behavior. We chose to use two different reporting tools—one much more management focused for internal staff (Nucleus’ built-in visualizations), and the other for the board to see progress on our key performance indicators (Power BI) so we could keep everyone apprised of the most recent data at the appropriate strategic level.”

“We received a 10% boost in membership renewal rates by reaching out with targeted marketing campaigns to lists that Nucleus helped us segment.” -Karen Greenwood, EVP and COO at AMIA 

CONCLUSION: Nucleus was developed with each of the requirements for Year One budget neutrality in mind:

  • Rapid Deployment and Minimal Time-to-Value
  • Modest and Site-License Pricing 
  • “Start Small and Expand” Purchase Option

Crucially, nothing about Nucleus limits you. For example, you may enjoy our out-of-the-box dashboards immediately and build your own if you wish (either within Nucleus or using external tools such as Tableau or Power BI). If you choose to focus on just one or two departments, deciding later to expand to other departments is easy and efficient – there is no downside.  And because Nucleus is a true SaaS product, you are always up-to-date with the newest features and functionality that we are constantly introducing. 

In summary, every aspect of Nucleus has been carefully chosen to make it easy for associations to quickly and easily enjoy an improved understanding of their current and potential members – starting in Year One and continuing.

Can you introduce enhanced Data Analytics to your association in 2020 even without budget allocated for it? 

Discuss the specifics with us and we will quickly give you everything you need to decide for yourself – we’re here to help!

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