by Alex Palmer | February 11, 2015
The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) is ready to take its work to the next level. The St. Louis-based industry research and education organization recently laid out its roadmap for the next five years, with an emphasis on facilitating collaboration within the recognition industry, deepening connections with universities, and extending its reach into all business disciplines. 

Called "Vision2020," the statement lays out three main "pillars" for the organization in the next five years. The first, Unification, stresses the group's efforts to cultivate a community among players in the incentive industry.

"When we talk about unification, we aren't talking about one over the other, but all the parts of the industry working together," Sandra Daniel, president & CEO of Fire Light Group and chair of the IRF Executive Committee told Incentive

The second pillar, Universal Resources, sets out the goal of amplifying the organization's research and education offerings to be used by a wider range of business disciplines. The third pillar, University Alliances, aims to grow the new research being done on incentive and recognition and used in business and academia.

"People graduate from business school but don't know anything about incentives, even though it's a strategy used by most Fortune 500 companies," said Daniel. "We want it to be universally understood that there is this set of practices in business, and to offer a body of research that's at a level akin to Gallup."

Helping the organization to reach the aims laid out in its Vision2020 will be its transition to Coulter Nonprofit Management in July 2015, which will handle a wide range of tasks for the organization. 

Coulter will provide what Daniel called "scalable resources" in areas such as administration, marketing, fundraising, education, legal, and financial. She explained that this allows IRF's core leadership, including President Melissa Van Dyke and Research Officer Rodger Stotz, to deepen their areas of focus without having to hire additional support staff in a full-time capacity.

She gave the example of the IRF's university efforts.

"Rodger has developed a great network already and will be doing more and more with UMass studies and so on, but combining Coulter with Rodger's network we're really going to see this piece expand," said Daniel.

In addition to this restructuring, IRF will also be launching a new website aimed at making its research and education more easily accessible. It will also be deepening its accreditation efforts, aiming to accredit all IRF education offerings, as well as launching additional events by 2016.

"At the end of the day, what do we want to do? Get research out there, make sure its usable, get deeper into universities, and work with them to do more research," said Daniel. "People are thirsting for this type of knowledge."