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2017 Annual Report
State of the Association Annual Report 2017

Change Agents Defined

[cheynj] to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

Ilona Koti, CRM, PMP, CDIA+, is president of ARMA International. A Certified Records Manager, certified Project Management Professional, and Certified Document Imaging Architect+, Koti earned two master degrees – in library science and in information management– from Syracuse University.

As the current president of ARMA International’s Board of Directors (BOD), it is my pleasure to introduce you to our State of the Association Annual Report. It is ARMA’s ’s intent to publish this report annually to uphold our commitment for transparency and clarity regarding the state of our community and to provide insight into the health of the Association.

Professional associations can vary greatly in size and makeup. ARMA International is made up of both a BOD and headquarter staff, each having specific roles and responsibilities.

ARMA’s board is comprised of volunteers who are either elected by our membership or appointed by the current board to fill a specific need; all directors serve without monetary compensation. Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the organization toward a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal practices, as well as by making sure the organization has the resources to advance its mission.

ARMA’s HQ staff, led by its CEO, defines and executes the strategies and tactics that align with the board’s policies and vision, ensuring that its members receive the value they expect. This collaborative partnership between the board and HQ helps to ensure that ARMA remains the leading authority in the profession and the top source for educational and networking tools and resources.

Our profession is evolving at a dizzying pace. Practitioners and organizations alike are working diligently to keep pace with the regulatory, organizational, and social demands placed on them to better manage, secure, and leverage information. ARMA’s purpose is to provide a community of support along the way, in the form of best practices, standards and technical reports, educational offerings, networking opportunities, and industry leadership. Through the connected intelligence of our members and industry experts, ARMA prepares our members to be agents of change and leaders in this dynamic profession. 

For instance, our approach to IG recognizes the importance of strategic governance while acknowledging RIM as the core foundation of IG, an approach demonstrated in our forthcoming Information Governance Body of Knowledge (IGBOK®), which will be the profession’s only comprehensive reference compendium based on globally accepted IG standards and best practices.

Your current BOD and HQ leadership are guided by a mindset that prioritizes member value. Yes, we face similar challenges that most membership associations must solve to maintain its relevance, and we intend to address those challenges head on by focusing always on member value. In this report, you will find information on how we are putting the Association on track for greater financial stability and for long-term growth.

I love the history of ARMA, specifically because of the collaborative work that has gone into our success. As we are coming out of our own organizational economic downturn, I’m excited to see that same community, along with a new pipeline of professionals, come together to ensure growth and sustainability in professional opportunities for ARMA members.

Please always know that your input is welcome as we work together to grow careers and the profession. It is our honor and privilege to serve our members. On behalf of the BOD and ARMA HQ, thank you for your continued support.


Ilona Koti, MLS, MS IM, CRM, PMP, CDIA+, CC


Ryan Zilm, CRM, CIP, IGP


Michael Haley

Immediate Past President

Tera Ladner, J.D., IGP, CRM


Mark H. Chardack, MBA

Margaret Hermesmeyer, MLIS, IGP, CRM

Mark Levin, CAE, CSP


Jason C. Stearns, IGP, CRM

John J. Jablonski, Esq.

Jocelyn Gunter, IGP, CPA, is the chief executive officer for ARMA International. An Information Governance Professional and Certified Public Accountant, Gunter earned a bachelor of applied science degree from the University of Kansas.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about your association, ARMA International. Through this report we hope you’ll have a better understanding of some of the challenges we’ve faced, the current state of the association, and why we’re so excited for the future. You will also find insight into who we serve and how we serve, and our role in defining – and leading – change in the dynamic profession of information management/information governance (IM/IG).

During my five years with ARMA, I have seen a lot of change – change in the IM/IG profession, technological advances, and an explosion of data. At ARMA International, change has meant playing catch-up with our technologies and our ability to fully leverage our data and information along with many of you. Change has required us to better understand our shifting demographics and the impact on our membership levels. Change has been felt through cut and re-imagined programs and the turn-over of leadership at HQ. Change has made us stronger with a better understanding of how to balance being nimble and being diligent. I’ve learned that communications are hard enough with all the noise in our inboxes, and the diversity within our amazing community means we must improve the relevancy of each message our members receive. What I can honestly and humbly tell you is that we’re doing better every day.

While the challenges of the last five years have not been fully abated, 2017 was a strong year for ARMA. We continued our efforts to financially “right the ship,” held our best conference in five years based on attendee feedback, introduced new and improved tools and resources to members, and launched a new and innovative website and learning management system to help our members obtain the information they need quickly and more easily. And, as we look to 2018, we’re just beginning.

In this report you will learn what continues to make ARMA the leading organization for IM/IG practitioners. More specifically, we will define how we are leading through the critical categories of thought leadership, community, education, and value. And, we will lay out the future of the profession from our authentic perspective and give you some key data points to better tell the ARMA story.

It has been said, “Your past does not confine you; it prepares you.” Our past has given us the opportunity to influence the profession and to help build careers. Our past is full of lessons learned about what makes us great and what changes are critical in moving ARMA, the professionals, and the profession, to the next level. We know we must move forward together. ARMA has the most passionate community of professionals I’ve ever seen, and it is both my promise and my honor to lead through the significant changes ahead in a strategic, coordinated, collaborative, and transparent manner.

Thank you for your continued support of ARMA.

Defining Thought Leadership
[thawt] a single act or product of thinking; idea or notion.
[lee-der-ship] an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction.

ARMA International is dedicated to providing significant influence and vision throughout the information management/information governance community. ARMA exhibits its leadership throughout the profession – through its events, educational resources, chapters, communities, social media and more. 

The Principles: Guiding ARMA’s Thought Leadership

Thought leadership groups: ARMA is diligent about making sure that those contributing to our content are diverse and representative of all IG segments, industries, and competency levels. The village of ARMA thought leaders provides unparalleled depth and breadth in our content, and this village is growing every day.

  • Conference Education Management Group (CEMG): This volunteer group of 18 helps select and manage sessions for the annual ARMA Live! conference education program.
  • Content Editorial Board (CEB): 13 members of the CEB track IM and IG trends, identify content needs for the profession, and review content under development.
  • IGP Governance Board: The volunteer IGP Governance Board is a strong group of five industry experts who are responsible for ensuring the credibility of the Information Governance Professional (IGP) certification program.
  • Industry Expert Task Force (IETF): 16 of the leading industry experts are working with ARMA to develop the forthcoming Information Governance Body of Knowledge (IGBOK).
  • RIM Review Group: Members from this annually evolving group of about 20 subject matter expert volunteers are called on individually to review and provide recommendations for content under development, as needed.
  • Standards Work Groups: Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a standards development organization, ARMA International develops American National Standards, as well as technical reports that are registered with ANSI. A new group of volunteers of varying sizes is convened to develop these resources according to ARMA’s established procedures for each publication type (i.e., American National Standard, ANSI-registered technical report, best practice publication). Nearly 40 people volunteered for three projects in the past fiscal year.
  • Authors: Authors either propose to or are solicited by ARMA International in 2017 to write on specified topics for Information Management magazine and ARMA-published books. During the past fiscal year, nearly 50 people contributed to these publications.
  • Facilitators Hundreds of facilitators each year provide education development and delivery to ARMA International communities. This group also includes contributions from our group of 52 ARMA Fellows who continue with incredible contributions to our community each year.
  • Business Partners: Our business partners include 47 organizations or individuals who bring critical market insight to our members around specific products and services. In many cases our business partner content in our newsletters and webinars proves to be our top performing content because it speaks directly to member needs in the marketplace today.

Defining Community
[kuh-myoo-ni-tee] a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.

An oft-cited benefit of a professional association is the sense of community it provides. ARMA International is largely the sum of its chapters and regions, where professionals and practitioners on the front lines are providing voluntarism and support to help advance individual careers and the profession. 2017 survey results from members and from our region and chapter leaders provided representative data about what the ARMA community looks like today.


ARMA International Awards

Britt Literary Award

Patrick Cunningham, CISM, FAI

Another Walk in the Cloud

September/October 2016 issue, Information Management


Christine Zanotti Award

For Excellence in Non-Serial Publications

Managing Local Government Archives

John, H. Slate, CA & Kaye Lanning Minchew, CA


Company of Fellows

Uta H. Fox, CRM, FAI #55

Suzanne D. A. Graham, CRM, CA, FAI #56

Peter Kurilecz, IGP, CRM, CA, FAI #57

Judy V. Sitton, CRM, FAI #58


Award of Excellence for an Organization

Farmers Insurance


ARMA International Educational Foundation (AIEF)

Access Leadership Scholarship Awards

  • Brett Wise
  • James Carpenter


La ARMA Nostra

Reimbursement Grant Winners

  • Sandra Bates - Regena, Saskatchewan
  • Aimee Dyjur - Lloydminister, Alberta
  • Elizabeth Francis – Somerville, MA
  • Torey King - Trenton, NJ

CRM Certification:  Jia Zhu – Edmonton, Alberta

Local communities: ARMA’s local chapters power the Association, providing personal connections and face-to-face learning opportunities. These self-governed communities help their members build personal networks as they enhance their professional and leadership skills.  We certainly share the sentiments of these chapter and region leaders about the value realized at the local level, including the value of serving in a leadership role.

International community: ARMA International’s strategy for meeting the needs of our global customers is a work in progress.

Our customers’ demands, and their competitive challenges, are different from country to country, and therefore a multinational approach – one that seeks to address each nation’s challenges – might be the most effective way to go. The approach will merit consideration, for sure. In time, we will have sufficient data to help direct us to an optimal strategy, but please know the conversation has begun.

What can we say at present? For one, there are concepts and resources that provide value on a global scale. Such foundational resources as the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles®, the Maturity Model, and the competencies and job descriptions publications can and do transcend borders. Our standards and technical reports wield authority worldwide as well, even if certain laws and regulations vary from country to country. Further, we believe the IGP certification is relevant to professionals around the world, and that the forthcoming Information Governance Body of Knowledge will resonate internationally as well.

Meanwhile, several regions and chapters are doing what regions and chapters do best: meeting their members’ unique local needs. For example, the Canadian Region has its own publication with local content, and the Montreal chapter regularly translates resources into French. The Swiss chapter is recruiting members in its emerging market with a very impressive local entrepreneurial spirit. 

What ARMA International can do is support these efforts through marketing and communications to ensure the membership value is shared with all who would benefit. Indeed, we are connecting members across borders through virtual engagement within industries and on topics that provide common pain points around the world. Again, the conversation has begun. We believe the process could be hastened and enrichened by an international presence on the board and by more day-to-day input from our international members and friends.

Defining Education
[ej-oo-key-shuh n] the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession.

Today, “information” is easy to find on the Internet. However, information is not education. As the international authority on information management, ARMA educates our members by providing relevant, real-world educational content that’s vetted by seasoned professionals and rated highly by its participants. Our content strategy is to meet the needs of current members while developing content that will serve them, and their teams, through their membership journey and the various stages of their career. This strategy also includes a continual evolution of education formats as the education industry discovers more about different learning styles.


Information Governance Body of Knowledge (IGBOK), to be unveiled in the spring, will be the only comprehensive reference that’s based on globally accepted IG standards and best practices for managing and governing the full life cycle of information. The collaboration of ARMA volunteers and industry experts, IGBOK will give more weight and authority to IG and, we feel, will truly be a game-changer for the profession. We are excited about an early release of the publication portion that is more conceptual in nature. IGBOK: The Foundation, which presents the full scope of the profession, will be free to professional ARMA members, so stay tuned!

Information Governance Certification is gaining ground. ARMA supports your career development by providing more than 180 hours of learning materials that have been pre-approved for IGP credit. The IGP program began awarding certification in 2013 and has seen a steady growth, with 25% more new IGPs in 2017 than in 2016.  Both those in our community who consumed more than 230 different resources for IGP preparation in 2017, along with our 340 existing IGPs, represent the pipeline of professionals most prepared to own a comprehensive information governance program. They’ll bring together their strategic perspective and requisite knowledge of all IG segments to help an organization leverage information for maximum value while reducing the costs and mitigating the risks associated with using and governing this important asset. With ARMA’s 263 pre-approved CRM credits, we’re proud to support all information professionals throughout their certification journey as they accomplish their goals for career growth.

Defining Value
[val-yoo] V: to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.

Value, or membership value, is at the heart of ARMA International. While it’s tough to ascribe a specific dollar amount to the value of belonging to ARMA, membership benefits include access to a wide range of free and discounted products and events, plus ample opportunity to connect with others in the ARMA community around the world. When careers are advanced, data is properly managed and secured, and organizations are in compliance, the value ARMA provides can be priceless.


Membership benefits quantified: An ARMA membership opens up a world of education, training, and knowledge-sharing opportunities. Here’s a snapshot of these benefits:

  • More than 200 free web seminars
  • More than 250 free job aids
  • Discounted fees for online courses and certificates
  • Discounted fee for ARMA Live!, the profession’s premier annual conference
  • Free virtual conference registration
  • Free iMasters interactive sessions, live and on demand
  • Free ARMA inDepth newsletter – a deep-dive into hot topics and industry pain points
  • Free Information Management magazine
  • Regular updates on industry news and trends
  • Mentorship program and student programs


The following graphic depicts an estimation of the dollar value of an ARMA membership in 2017:

The value of ARMA partnerships: ARMA partners with many organizations and individuals that can add value to our members and community. Below are the categories of value we are currently focused on in our partnership strategy and a few examples of current partnerships in place to meet these objectives.

  • Revenue Opportunity/Trade (e.g., Unified Compliance Framework & brokered content partners)
  • Industry/Outcome Collaboration (e.g., Experience Matters, ICRM)            
  • External Brand Awareness/Presence (e.g., Content and attendance at LegalTech, NIRMA, ILTA, and Laserfiche User Conference)      
  • Business Partner/Solution Provider (e.g., Exhibitors at conference and content collaboration with industry experts)              
  • Market Awareness/Industry Monitoring (e.g., Cohasset & Forrester joint ARMA surveys)

ARMA members also take advantage of the valuable ARMA Career Center. From 2015 to 2017, job seekers in the Career Center increased by 408% to more than 650. In 2017 alone, members viewed jobs in the Career Center 171,100 times. Connections between employers and job seekers and resume review services are only part of the commitment from ARMA to enhance career opportunities for ARMA members.   

The Value of ARMA Live! 2017

Defining Data
[da·ta]: facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.

We’re also pleased to share with you some additional values and data points to tell the story of ARMA’s current state. What follows is data on membership trends, membership and community engagement, and their financial impacts.

Membership quantified: ARMA has seen a decline in overall paid membership over the past four years. Now that we are analyzing more member data than ever before, we know the decline is largely due to the aging demographics of our long-standing members. Additionally, we know that an individual’s ability to join or renew is often impacted by his or her organization’s financial situation. Knowing this, we’re very optimistic that we can address and resolve these challenges.

In this chart, please note how ARMA now defines and reports its membership. In the past, the membership levels appeared to be much higher because the “friends of ARMA” – those who regularly access our tools and resources – were included as members. This continues to be a common practice among professional associations, but we believe it’s more transparent and accurate to report this number separately. When you see our membership levels, you get a truer picture of the associate, professional, and industry memberships that that comprise our community.

The predictive trend line in this chart represents a trended forecast of the direction of our membership levels. When this trend line increases, the data tells us paid memberships are on the rise; as the number of consecutive positive months increases, our confidence in our projections increases as well.

A more recent nine-month snapshot shows both an early decline in membership and a more recent uptick. (We’re reporting nine months instead of a full year because we’re still analyzing the final quarter of 2017 in our new database. Along with the new website, we launched new systems for association management, e-mail management, and learning management – all of which will significantly improve the membership experience.)

This most recent positive uptick in membership illustrates that ARMA’s efforts to identify, attract, and showcase its value to new and current members is working. With a new website, a new learning management system, and new communications platforms, we expect to see a positive impact from more personalized engagement and communications. Member experience at the local level is really the heart of the ARMA culture, and it has a significant impact on membership trends, and that is why we’re working closely with our chapter leaders to ensure this positive trend continues.

Membership Engagement

How did we get here? The story of our financial performance these past 10 years involves both external and internal factors.

In 2008-2009, the economy experienced a significant downturn. ARMA, along with many other associations that rely on membership fees for revenue, experienced a big dip in revenue and reserves. ARMA weathered this storm, and revenues climbed steadily from 2010-2014. In 2013, with revenues and reserves seemingly stable, ARMA invested in new resources and services to align with the needs of our professionals who were expanding into roles in information governance. In 2014-2015, revenues decreased again, but expenses did not decline at the same rate, and these fiscal challenges occurred while we were transitioning leadership and trying to better understand the trends and data in ways we hadn’t done before.

During 2015-2016, the revenue decline picked up speed, and ARMA reacted swiftly to cushion the impact and improve its financial stability. Mitigation efforts included staff reductions, re-negotiation of nearly all operating contracts, and the move to a virtual office.

In 2017, we continued to reduce our expenses to offset revenue declines, but we also made the strategic decision to invest in our growth by focusing again on improving the membership experience and filling the membership pipeline. 

As a result of these historical factors, ARMA’s short term/liquid reserve levels did drop significantly during the last five years, but based on internal analysis, external audits, and current projections, that decline does not signal a concern regarding our ability to continue operations. We expect 2018 to be the year we see revenue declines flatten as we begin to replenish these reserves.

Even with lower on-hand reserves, we continue to have profitable and diverse programs and are in a much stronger position to accurately predict trends and course-correct as needed. Our stringent oversight of expenses, our focus on brand clarification, and our improved membership value combine to make us feel extremely optimistic for ARMA’s future.

Deep dive in recent history: This chart identifies the factors that affected our financial record for the previous five years. It shows how each initiative added to the net income/loss trends that are shown above. The positive percentages show how the initiative contributed to that trend; negative percentages show how the initiative counter-acted those trends.

The slight decline of operating net income in 2013 was due primarily to a decline in net profits from conference, offset by a decrease in overhead expenses and an increase in business partner revenues.

The larger decline in 2014 was due to many variables, the greatest of which was an increase in overhead expenses, followed by an investment in the IG assessment and a decline in net profits from education and content. The declines were slightly offset by an increase in conference profits.

The largest decline in the last five years occurred in 2015 and was caused by a decline in membership dues income, followed by a decline in business partner and conference income. These declines were offset by profits from the IG assessment and from IGP certification revenues.

In FY 16, our net loss was significantly smaller, and this improvement was primarily due to cuts to overhead expenses and an increase in business partner revenues. But such favorable results were offset by a decline in conference revenues and additional declines in membership dues income.

In our most recent fiscal year, we had a slight decline in our bottom line; the largest factors were declines in business partner revenues and membership dues. These declines were offset by an improvement in the profitability of the ARMA Live! conference. 

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts that impact ARMA’s financial health each year. We’ve been transparent about our challenges because we are equally optimistic about our financial future.

Defining the Future
[fyoo-cher] something that will exist or happen in time to come.

While the future of the IM/IG profession is hard to predict, we do know with the explosion of data and information, it will continue to play a more significant role. Get a glimpse of how ARMA International plans to maintain its leadership role and how the Association intends to continue elevating individual careers and the status of the profession.

Current Focus

ARMA’s HQ leadership and its Board of Directors are focused on supporting membership through a number of strategic goals. Priorities include investing in technologies that will increase efficiencies and improve the member experience, continuing to enhance a more personalized and engaged experience for the members, further strengthening the network of local chapters, identifying new markets and new opportunities to increase membership, elevating ARMA's reputation across the IM/IG profession through new partnerships and thought-leadership opportunities, and continuing to improve our financial strength through sound policies and initiatives.

Be a Part of It

There are so many ways to get involved and make a greater impact through engagement with ARMA International. And for those of you with less time to commit, there are short-term or micro-volunteer opportunities, denoted in italics below.

  • Governance
  • Program Advisory
    • Student Program Advisory Task Force
    • Young Professional Advisory Group
    • Vendor Advisory Group
  • Membership Engagement
    • Mentorship Program participants
    • First-Year Member Welcome Committee
    • Awards Program Task Force
  • Content Development and Review
    • Conference Editorial Board (CEB)
    • IGP Exam Development Committee
    • Content Education Management Group (CEMG)
    • Standards work groups
    • Industry Expert Task Force (IETF – the IGBOK writing group)
    • RIM Review Group
  • Event Volunteers
    • Education Assistants at conference
    • Career Resource Center Task Force
    • Local volunteers to support ARMA HQ booth

Looking forward: The new leadership at ARMA HQ is energized, passionate, collaborative, and driven to serve our members and make an impact on the profession. We are making more and more data-driven decisions than ever before, and there is a relentless focus on identifying new professionals to join and help grow our community. We are committed to sustainable and progressive technologies to help us better meet the unique needs of our members and friends. And most importantly, we recognize that the value of our local chapters is unparalleled, and that they are critical to the long-term success of this profession.

Let's Grow Together
Electronic data and the devices that generate it and store it are proliferating at immeasurable speeds. Increasingly, data is unstructured, less defined, and blindly dispersed. Too often the threats to its privacy and security are outrunning the technologies, laws, and know-how that are needed to combat them.
This very dynamism and these threats are providing opportunities for information managers and the profession itself. Additionally, we are in a sweet spot where stakeholders are beginning to realize that to fully leverage their data and information as a monetized asset, they must properly manage and govern that information.
The process of efficiently managing, protecting, storing, and disposing of data has never been more important. ARMA International intends to continue seizing these opportunities by providing industry leadership that elevates the profession; by providing access to relevant, real-world education and publications; by offering live events that facilitate learning and networking; by producing and vetting standards and technical reports; by increasing awareness at the stakeholder level; and much more. As the profession evolves, so will we.  And, we hope you’ll join us!