While quarterly report data may indeed provide a snapshot in time, I feel it is too limited for ward or organization analysis.
boomerbubba wrote:For example, the Sunday that Sacrament Meeting attendance is counted might happen to be the day of a big snowstorm.
Exactly correct, and proves my point. We had two very snowy sundays in December. We have many older members in the ward who just don't come out in the snow. Our sacrament numbers took a noticeable dip on the year-end quarterlies from the the quarter before.
Why, the bishop asked? Was it the snow that dropped the December numbers? What about the fact that in September (again, a counting month) we had several baby blessings and the primary program? Did that "skew" the 3rd quarter numbers to the high side?
Probably September's numbers were abnormally high and December's numbers were lower then usual, giving the impression of a noticeable downward trend. So, the "snapshot" of two months doesn't reflect the 6 months it represents.
Only by tracking attendance every week while documenting occuring events would you see the dips and spikes that occur weekly. You could attribute some of these anomalies to events, like holidays, snow storms, baby blessings, etc. As you graphed a whole year, you would see the true average for your attendance. If you did this every week for years, I assume you should see noticeable seasonal patterns as well.
Your bishop would love you.
As for organizations, some of ours stopped taking role on the months it's not required, and then noticed a definite drop in the leaders knowledge of the attendance habits of their members. I think most have returned to weekly attendance roles.