aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

aLearning’s Survey Results

Posted by Ellen on January 5, 2008

Thank you to those of you who responded to requests for participation in the aLearning Blog’s online learning survey, posted on Survey Monkey.  You’ll find here, and in subsequent posts, a summary of the responses and results.  Please note that despite reminders to complete the survey, severa of those invited to participate chose not to, and so not enough responses came in to give us a viable sample.  Therefore this disclaimer: please don’t use these results as benchmarking data for your organization, but consider this a snapshot of what respondents are doing in their associations with online learning.

First, who was invited to participate, and who responded? 

Respondent Demographics

Sixty-six associations of various sizes (in terms of membership and staff) were selected to participate based on their service to members in higher education.  Of those, about 17% responded (a viable sample size is usually about 20%), so n=11, which is a very small respondent pool. Membership size was measured by individual members served, regardless of whether an association formally recognizes an institution as its member. This provided a common basis for measurement and analysis.

Respondents represent:

  • organizations of 1000 members or more, with 45% of those having at least 10,000 members.  The highest reported membership was 200,000.
  • staff sizes from 1-60; 36% with fewer than 10; 36% with 45 or more; and 27% with 12-22 staff members

More than half of the respondents are at associations where 10-20% of the staff is fully dedicated to education.  Of those, only one large association has a higher percentage of education staff.  Organizations reporting 17-25% of their staff as fully-dedicated to education represent 1000-6000 individual members.  Some organizations with 10,000 or more members reported 14% of their overall full-time staff is fully-dedicated to education.


Organizations representing 1000 or fewer members are not represented in this survey because they did not respond to the invitation.  This supports findings by the ASAE and The Center that smaller organizations do not have the resources/time to respond to surveys, and tend to be underrepresented in data.

Distribution of staff sizes in the survey results is relatively even an only generally correlates to the size of the organization. For example, one association reported one full-time staff member for more than 10,000 members; a similar-sized organization reported a staff of 60.  Reasons for this broad range in staffing weren’t addressed in the survey.

As with overall staffing, no clear correlation can be made between the number of association members served and the number of full-time education professionals on staff.  In some cases, larger organizations have more education specialists, but smaller associations sometimes reported that a higher percentage of staff members are dedicated to education.  They survey did not probe into the reasons behind staffing levels, but one assumption is that the association’s mission drives staffing levels (i.e., when professional development is part of the mission, more resources are dedicated to it), not the number of members served.

Next time… how many respondents are offering elearning, and what are they offering?

Would you like a copy of the report e-mailed to you? If so, click here.

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