How credentialing programs increase member retention.

How do you create a program that optimizes the benefits of credentialing for your organization and your members? Here are five tips.

As an association, your members look to you for learning opportunities that allow them to fulfill industry continuing education requirements. At the same time, your members want to advance their careers, and they need the credentials to do so.

The Community Brands Member Loyalty Study found that credentialing is one of the most valued member benefits and a key to retaining members. In addition, an ASAE Foundation study found that credentialing programs offer multiple benefits to an association and its members, including:

  • Increased visibility of the association to the general public
  • A service highly valued by members
  • Increased member engagement
  • Increased member loyalty to the association

So how do you create a program that optimizes the benefits of credentialing for your organization and your members? Here are five tips:

1. Find out what your members want. Ask them. Surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations and emails are all good ways to gather feedback from members. Not only does this approach give members a vested interest in your learning program, but it also allows you to understand what types of courses and credentials are the most valuable to your members.

2. Think: “online”. Community Brands research shows that members who perceive their organization as an early technology adopter are significantly more satisfied with their membership and feel more connected to their organization. Instead of asking your members to travel to an onsite location to complete a course, consider creating and delivering an online credentialing course as a convenient option for your members.

3. Offer micro-learning and micro-credentialing. If you or your members are not ready to dive into lengthy credentialing courses, consider offering the credentials in small bite-sized pieces that members can build up over time. Micro-learning is a huge trend these days, focusing on the idea that people enjoy consuming knowledge in small and easy-to-absorb chunks. This ties nicely into the idea of stackable credentials, in which your learners complete more convenient sub-sections of your overarching credential over time.

4. Remember the certificate option. Typically, organizations need to work with an accrediting body to certify that a course being offered meets the requirements of a specific credential, which is worth doing if your association has the resources and time. However, if you’re just getting started, or if the credentialing model does not make sense for your organization, consider offering members a certificate program that you design and approve on your own. The difference is that by offering a certificate program, you’re certifying that members have completed a course; whereas with a credential, the accrediting body is certifying that members have not only completed the course, but also have a specific level of knowledge as a result. Both are nice-to-haves for members and supply them with a certificate or accreditation they can share with their employers or promote in their job search.

5. Use technology to increase the efficiency of your credentialing program. Keeping track of continuing education credits, credentials, and certifications can be a handful if you try to tackle it manually. Modern technology can help you streamline and automate your certifications processes and manage your credentialing program throughout each stage of your members’ career journey, from graduation through retirement. For example, NetForum’s credentialing software, powered by Agilutions, is an essential part of any certification program, enabling staff to streamline processes and empower learners with greater visibility and participation in the certification process.

Whether you’re just starting out with an online credentialing program, or you’re looking to boost your existing program, these tips will help take your credentialing program to the next level.

Find out how NetForum’s credentialing engine can help you manage and automate your certification and credentialing program.