Illinois Principals Association

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.

The Problem

Like most associations, IPA holds an annual conference. Attendance is critical because 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.

The Solution

Using Nucleus, the data analytics platform built specifically for associations, IPA increased their annual event attendance by 30%.

Pathway to success

Drew Thomason, Director of Marketing and Communications at IPA, gives a step-by-step look into how his organization used Nucleus to increase their annual conference attendance by 30%:



IPA annually offers more than 120 free and paid professional development opportunities, both to members and non-members. By entering all relevant information (membership and event registration from our AMS, plus data from Informz and Higher Logic) into Nucleus, IPA immediately discovered that 50% of the organization’s professional development revenue comes from members. Given that members have plenty of free event options, this confirmed that they’re finding enormous value in attending the annual conference and are willing to pay for that value.


Goal setting

Based on their conference analysis, IPA determined and set a specific goal to increase attendees by 126 more than the previous year, 6 net new registrants in each of the 21 chapters throughout the state. This goal was easily trackable in Nucleus, and everyone in the organization could keep tabs on the campaign’s progress.



IPA tracked progress by segmenting registrations by chapter and allowed each region to view their success. Using Nucleus’s goal tracking feature and visualization suite, they could easily see their registration progress at a glance. The charts were publicly displayed on screens at the offices, which allowed everyone to monitor the number of conference registrants. The shared knowledge ultimately created a competitive atmosphere among the regions.



The goals identified were approachable and realistic. IPA provided internal motivation to chapters — monetary incentives — to increase registration and meet their goals. Their campaigns took on a grassroots approach, and included targeted emails, save the dates, and targeted messaging. In total, IPA spent $5K on internal incentives in return for $40K of additional revenue through conference registrations.



This was their best-attended conference in eight years. The organization not only met, but surpassed, their conference attendance goals, giving them even more opportunity to engage members face-to-face and deliver rich value.

Life before Nucleus

IPA previously managed analytics in a spreadsheet that required a manual monthly update from each department. Every month, the executive director would remind each department to make their updates. Departments fell behind on data entry, resulting in incomplete reports. Finding current registration numbers often required a lengthy investigation.

Life with Nucleus

“Nucleus is the perfect tool for IPA staff at all levels because it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or training,” Drew 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.”