A Digital Maturity Scan for Associations:

Evaluating your digital presence against corporate & commercial standards

Belly & Brain and Exempla are proud to share the initial results of our digital maturity scan for associations: the first evaluation of associations’ digital presence using standards and best practices applied in the for-profit business world.

There is a huge focus today on association business models relying more on digital, reinventing the member value proposal, staying relevant, and getting the maximum impact out of limited resources.

In the digital space, associations face a competitive environment where they don’t have exclusivity to deliver services and value to their members.

Embracing the rules of the digital game, best practices and standards, is essential if you want to have engagement, influence and impact.


Laurent Goffin

Co-founder & Strategy Lead

Belly & Brain

laurent goffin

“Welcome to an age where a member is a customer, communities are consumer groups and the value proposal is about both delivering more added value than the competition and mastering channels to sell product and services at the right price.”

Our digital maturity scan is not a tool to rank associations amongst associations – the rules of the digital game apply to all sectors!

Therefore, we have purposely avoided using an association-centric perspective and based the assessment on well-known digital standards or marketing concepts widely used in the commercial for-profit and corporate world.

Belly & Brain has been working for more than 20 years in the corporate and commercial world where digital best practices, marketing concepts and frameworks are broadly used. We believe many of those best practices and concepts are relevant for associations. We just have to open the borders and avoid association and institutional isolation. Exempla’s expertise is helping us to adapt those concepts to your reality.

Whatever the sector, for an organisation determined to progress on their digital transformation journey embracing the rules instead of fighting them is always the first step.

As a digital entity amongst hundreds its audience will interact with, the association can no longer cling to exceptions being made just because they are “not for profit”. It’s time to adopt digital best practices (wherever it comes from) if you want to generate value and impact with your initiatives. Your members and stakeholders are exposed every day to this best practice, either in their own companies or from the digital services they access – and that will continue to shape (and increase) their expectations.

The good news for associations is that advanced marketing concepts and powerful digital solutions are no longer exclusive to very large enterprises. Those best practices and marketing concepts have never been so accessible to everybody. Digital has lowered the access to powerful solutions. Just look at those public speakers and influencers with audience reach that very few corporations manage to have.

What is our digital maturity scan?

Our evaluation results from an in-depth analysis of 100 association’s digital presence. Our diverse sample include associations of all types (trade, federation, professional), sectors, sizes and regions.

“Bringing the full potential of digital to the association world requires knowing where we start from.”

Our aim is to help associations leverage the full potential of digital by defining a roadmap and the most valuable priorities. Our digital maturity scan is a snapshot of the situation allowing us to define the starting point of the digital journey.

This scan has allowed us to make an inventory of audiences addressed by associations and identify association digital application or use cases. Based on this map of key audiences and applications, we have made specific deep dive evaluations on quality and digital maturity for each specific usage.

The digital world is deeply user centric. Commercial companies call it customer centricity – associations can turn it into member centricity and develop relevance to each audience segment served via their digital presence. Our first findings confronted us with the challenge that although associations are great at making individuals feel part of a community, they struggle to give a warm “digital welcome”:

In the coming weeks, we will share with you our audience analysis, usage analysis, how association use digital channels to present themselves and how associations use digital as a media & communication channel.

Stay tuned and feel free to ask us any questions you may have in the meantime.

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