A recent Community Brands industry study shows that certification/credentials are among the most important benefits to members of professional membership associations. Yet, those who work at associations (“Pros”) do not always think credentialing is as important to members as members themselves do.
So how do you create a program that optimizes the benefits of credentialing for your organization and your members? Here are five tips:
- Find out what your members want.
Surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations 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.
- Think: “online”.
You might have moved your annual conference to a virtual conference in 2020, but it’s still important to engage members in a variety of year-round learning opportunities to address members’ budgets, schedules, educational and certification needs, and learning preferences. Consider creating and delivering an online credentialing course as a convenient option for your members.
- Offer micro-learning and micro-credentialing.
If you (or your members) are not ready to dive into lengthy credentialing courses, consider offering credentials in small, bite-sized pieces that members can build up over time. Micro-learning focuses on the idea that people enjoy consuming knowledge in small and easy-to-absorb chunks. This approach ties in nicely with the idea of stackable credentials, in which your learners complete more convenient sub-sections of your overarching credential over time.
- 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. But if you’re just getting started, or if the credentialing model doesn’t 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 beneficial for members, supplying them with a certificate or accreditation they can share with their employers or promote in their job search.
- 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, the NetForum Enterprise credentialing management software, powered by Agilutions, is an essential part of any certification program. It enables 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.
Learn more about what members want.
Watch our latest webinar, The Big Reveal: 2020 Association Trends Report, to learn more about the findings from our recent industry study. Download the report, check out the insights, and watch the on-demand webinar here.