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Andromeda Yelton's picture

LITA Program Impact Analysis

Attached please find the report on program impact analysis (here on connect so our members can see it too).  This collates the data from our impact survey, and I hope it will provide some actionable guidance to FAC, as well as spark some interesting conversations.


I personally found it very interesting, looking at this, what kind of association we actually are, and how this compares with what kind of association we may want to be. It's also illuminating how very many unprofitable program lines we have, and how unwilling we are to rate programs as low impact. I have lots more thoughts on the specifics of this, but I'm going to hold my tongue on them to invite your thoughts. What do you see looking at these graphs?

2015 LITA Program impact analysis.pdf154.19 KB
Jennifer E. Taylor's picture

Thanks, Andromeda.  This is interesting.  As I'm a big fan of cutting waste, I think it would benefit us to start discussing the stop signs:  looking at the specific impact of each of these (I bet we have different perspective on these based on what we've been involved with) and potential ways of generating revenue (sponsors?).

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Stop signs (unprofitable/low-impact): we should either stop doing these, or push them to be hearts or money trees if possible.

"Easy" (haha, not really - we can't) stop:

  • Governance (governance is low impact?! really? )
    • VP travel to Chicago (overhead, should continue)
    • Exco travel to Chicago (overhead, should continue)
    • CEO training for VP with ED (debatable, is this common ALA/Divisional practice?)
    • Committee discretionary funds (debatable, arguably overhead)
    • LITA Board discretionary funds (debatable, arguably overhead)
    • Board activities (too mushy, can we define this better?)
    • Stipends for Chairs (debatable, is this common ALA/Divisional practice?)

Suck it up / how do we turn into Star or Money Tree?

  • Annual:
    • Open House (does this count as recruitment overhead? arguably, it should)
    • Awards Presentation (does this count as recruitment overhead? arguably, it should)
  • MW: Open House (does this count as recruitment overhead? arguably, it should - does this item refer to the LITA Town Hall Meeting?)
  • Sponsorships (membership recruitment overhead? not really, arguably membership development outreach points, though)
    • LITA EL 
    • Awards & scholarships 
    • Scholarships for Forum or Annual
  • CNI membership (this shoudl continue & we should really take advantage of this memberhsip - what doe sit get us? how can we leverage it? OITP has leveraged CNI/Cliff Lynch before, has LITA?)
  • iends of LITA (I think this should be in with the other fundraising efforts, wherever it fits as an activity)


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Cody Hanson's picture

Idle speculation: I note that many of the programs that we rated as highly impactful are face-to-face. I wonder how much we deviate from our membership on this. As board members we are necessarily LITA members who are able to attend conferences, who are (more or less) interested in attending conferences, and who value face-to-face interaction.

If we're honest with ourselves, the potential impact of online and/or asynchronous program lines is almost certainly greater than the potential impact of any face-to-face activity.

Jennifer E. Taylor's picture

Yes.  Let's face it, the majority of our members are not participating at conferences.  I voted these things lower because of that.  We keep wanting to be more virtual, but yet we're stating that the in person events matter as much (if not more) than the virtual.

Bohyun Kim's picture

Yes, I have to agree with Cody and Jenny on this. The personal membership category is showing the highest overall impact in the survey results by us - the board members who attend conferences. But we repeatedly heard from our membership that people drop or do not join the LITA personal membership because it has little offering that is meaningful and useful to those who cannot afford to travel. Most items that scored high in community building are also for face to face. Note there is virtually no community building avenue for LITA members who cannot attend face-to-face events.

I think it is important to acknowledge our bias in the survey results.

Perhaps we should separate LITA activities first under two categories - face to face vs. online - and then decide on the high impact items to pursue in those two categories. Most items on the survey is under the face to face category. We are weak on the Online category and need to build and strengthen it. Otherwise our efforts will not be an appropriate answer to the problem our membership has been asking us to address.

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Money trees (profitable/low-impact): these support the work of the association and should be maintained. If possible, they should be pushed toward higher impact.

Easily understood, they bring money in, we should keep doing these:

  • Annual Preconferences, MW Workshops, Institutional Memberships

Not sure how these (do we still sell classified ads? we have a print newsletter?) got here:

  • Classified Ads, Newsletter

Outsourcing Forum Logistics?!
(not sure how this is a Money Tree at all, it's just overhead and will be a wash at best - conference planning isn't hard, it's just that someone has to do it)


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Aimee Fifarek's picture

Having been head of an organization with a conference arrangements vendor I can say that the main benefit is the vendor's power to negotiate on your behalf.  There are a TON of variables in how much you pay for conferences (room nights, in venue food consumption, demand for screw up's on the venue's behalf) not to mention the contract negotiation. If you have someone who is employed by multiple groups (and is therefore well known to venues) and is a complete pitbull (as we had) you wind up with some definite positives.  I can't say that the monetary outlay is going to be less, but the professional probably has a better shot than an amature.  

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Stars (profitable/high-impact): the best things we do. Let’s support them (or start doing them, if we’re not yet).

Easily understood:

  • Personal memberships, Forum, Web courses & webinars, LITA Guides

Not sure how this (high-effort, low return on effort in my experience) got here:

  • Fundraising (beyond Friends of LITA)

Infrastructure for on-demand webinars?!
(not sure how this is a Star, it's overhead - we *have* to do this for the Stars listed above to succeed)


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Hearts (unprofitable/high-impact): passion projects. These should be supported, but their costs contained. If possible, they should be pushed toward being stars.

Uh... how are these "unprofitable" (are we including the overhead of staff boots on the ground for f2f?) outside of not directly bringing money in:

  • Annual:
    • Business meetings
    • Happy Hour
    • Managed discussions (IGs)
    • Programs (PPC-selected)
    • Town Meeting
    • TTT Session
  • MW:
    • Business meetings
    • Happy Hour
    • Managed discussions (IGs)
    • TTT Discussion Group
  • Mentoring (Do we have a LITA Mentoring presence in MentorConnect?)
  • ITAL (there are almost no expenses here anymore if i remember the budget lines?)
  • President’s Program (memberhsip development/recruiting overhead?)
  • 50th Anniversary (one-time event, lump with fundraising in general?)


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Aimee Fifarek's picture

To echo some of themes that have already been alluded to, I think that by lumping everything together and judging on the same scale is comparing apples to basketballs.  It might be worthwhile to follow the example of other nonprofits and look at administrative costs (chicago visits, CNI costs, CEO training, etc) in total and then express it as a percentage of the overall budget.  If that percentage is too high we can use the impact info for admin items separatly and readjust based on that. - a