A recent Community Brands study suggests it may be time for associations to focus on additional learning opportunities for their members.

According to the Community Brands Member Engagement and Loyalty Study, meetings and conferences, which traditionally have emphasized training and continuing education, are one area where association professionals (Pros) are very focused. Pros believe this is one of the most important and strongest benefits they offer members. Yet, members rate meetings and conferences as lower importance than Pros do.

Meetings and Conferences Chart

At first glance, it might seem as if meetings and conferences lack importance with members. But, when looking at the correlation between member loyalty and member involvement with their organization, the most common area of engagement across member loyalty segments – from the most loyal (Super Members) to the least (Value Seekers) – is attending an annual meeting, followed by certification programs and continuing education.

Engagement by Loyalty Segments

So, what’s going on here?

Findings from the Community Brands Member Education and Career Development Report shed light on this topic and the evolving preferences and behaviors around continuing education in general.

Continuing education is important to members. But members no longer look to annual conferences as the primary or only source of training and continuing education. They now learn anytime, anywhere, and in a variety of ways (five on average) – in-person, digital, time-intensive, condensed, and micro-focused.

Taken together, data from this study and previous studies suggests it may be time to address your members’ preferences for learning in new ways. Audit your professional education program to understand what learning formats may be beneficial to add. Also, regularly re-evaluate your program to ensure it continues to meet your goals and your members’ needs, and then experiment with new approaches.

A few ideas to consider:

  • Content delivery – Could you offer some of your in-person content online? For example, offer conference recordings as an add-on to live event registration for learners who want to re-visit content online in the future. Offer a per-course option, a track option, and a full-conference on-demand option to meet more members’ needs. Could you re-organize your learning portal so content is easier for members to find? Could you add new offerings, such as personalized learning paths, just-in-time learning, virtual conferences, live webinars, and webcasts – to stay relevant with your members and keep them engaged?
    • Packaging and pricing – Could you adjust your association’s educational content pricing to align with the nature of the content? For example, bundle content by topic or theme. Or, provide an “all-you-can-eat” option in which online learners pay a single price for access to an unlimited number of courses over a specified period of time.
  • Technology – Does your learning management system (LMS) still meet your needs? Or, is it time for a new LMS solution? Your LMS should support your association’s online learning program now and as your organization grows. For example, you may want to offer only on-demand learning now, but as your program evolves, you may want to offer livestreaming of your events. Be sure to have a system in place that can support multiple options. Some capabilities to look for include:
  • Live and on-demand delivery
  • Personalized learning paths
  • Assessment and testing
  • Continuing education tracking and certifications
  • Social learning community
  • Mobile-friendly interfaces
  • Ecommerce
  • Configurable reporting

Take your professional education program to the next level.
Whether your program is new, or it’s been around for years, leveling up your online learning program will benefit you and your members. Community Brands offers learning management systems to help you provide the optimal member experience.

Learn about Community Brands’ award-winning learning management systems, Crowd Wisdom® and Freestone®.

These products are part of the Community Brands integrated software suite for associations, which includes solutions for learning management, member management, event management, and career center. The products work even better together – helping your team operate efficiently and effectively, while driving membership growth, engagement, and revenue as well as enhancing member value.