Delivering Big Benefiets to

Member Museums

Success Story - American Alliance of Museums

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is the voice for the zoo and aquarium field, providing accreditation, research, education and funding to support the work of its 220 accredited member institutions.  The idea for a purchasing cooperative originated in 2010 with the AZA Enterprise Special Committee, which was formed to develop enterprises that generate new revenue streams to support AZA's mission and, when possible, provide a benefit back to zoos and aquarium members.


After considering several ideas, the Committee concluded that a purchasing cooperative provided both a measurable benefit to members and a new revenue stream back to the association. And after some diligence, the Committee and AZA selected Vendor Centric as a partner to support them in the design, development and management of the very first cooperative dedicated solely to the purchasing needs of zoos and aquariums.

Our Strategy and Approach

Our strategy in working with the AZA and its members was to design the cooperative based on direct feedback and data from member zoos and aquariums. Through most of 2012, AZA staff and Vendor Centric worked with a planning team of purchasing directors and CFOs from member institutions, along with several specialty focus groups, to inform and design the initial purchasing programs that would be offered through the cooperative. During this process we worked with AZA and its members to:

  • Recruit a focus group of members

  • Collect feedback and purchasing data from the focus group to understand needs and buying patterns

  • Create a framework for the cooperative design, and a phased approach for bringing on purchasing programs and vendors

  • Design a cooperative brand and member education website

  • Develop an approach to rolling out and educating members about the cooperative

The Results

In January 2013 the cooperative was formally launched to more than 220 AZA member zoos and aquariums under the brand AZA Smart Source.  Nearly 70% of AZA members now buy through the cooperative.  And one of the best parts is that the association earns non-dues revenue from the cooperative which it uses to support its core conservation programs.

Vendor Centric, through our Managed Cooperative Program, provides AZA with ongoing strategy, oversight and day-to-day management of the cooperative. And we work in partnership with the association to continually educate members, add programs and improve the value the cooperative provides to both members and to the association.

The Alliance Purchasing Cooperative helps us with two important goals. First, we always look for ways to serve our members better and they, in turn, are always looking for ways to save money. This was a perfect match for those needs. Second, we have an ambitious membership growth goal, and viewed a museum-focused purchasing cooperative as a new tool we could use to recruit new members, keep the ones we have and upgrade current lower-tier members. Early on we have had some success upgrading members and retaining a few members who were on the fence about renewing. We anticipate even more success as awareness grows."



Jennifer Adams, Director of Membership Marketing

American Alliance of Museums

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