Guest blog post by Rick Rutherford, CE21
One of the unique strengths of CE21 Lighthouse, our platform that combines Learning Management and Membership Management into one system, is closely aligned with our view on the value associations bring to the table. We believe that continuing education and professional development remain central to the member experience – helping members gain valuable knowledge and expertise that will help them in the advancement of the chosen careers. No one does this more effectively than associations.
While we have known for years that associations have historically been asked to do more with less, the global pandemic put a spotlight on challenge many small-staffed associations face when it comes to resources. The last two years has had a big impact of associations – from cancelling events to a decline in membership and for some a loss of staff. Technology that creates operational efficiencies utilizing automation has never been more relevant or more needed.
According to Willis Turner, CAE, CSE, CME, President and CEO for the Sales and Marketing Executives, Intl., associations are having to look at how they operate through a new lens.
“I think we will struggle to retain and grow membership post pandemic,” he said. “We need to look at why members would reevaluate after a pandemic whether they're going to join or come back to an association. Is it because they are finding something else to fulfill that void that means more to them? How can we reposition our organization to better reflect where the masses of people are going? That’s not to say that you need to follow the masses, but you need to have something, some value or something that's intrinsic within people that's going to make them want them to participate.”
“So, what is the magnet that you're going to attract membership with? It’s not necessarily member benefits,” Turner added. “We can have a long list of member benefits, but it may not translate into value for what members looking for today. We really need to reevaluate where we're going as organizations, what is our mission, our purpose and passion as an organization so that we can we attract people. It might be a smaller membership going forward but it might be much more valuable in terms of the depth and quality of membership.”
According to Turner, making the right choices in the systems organizations utilize to help meet these challenges has never been more important.
“Working in the CE21 system we've noticed a dramatic reduction in the number of staff hours that are needed to manage membership and the learning experience for members,” Turner said. “It's taking a burden off the staff as well as it's taking a burden off the member. We can use automated systems to remind members of renewal time for membership and renewal time for their certification programs. Having that ease to move seamlessly between membership products and continuing education courses is spectacular.”
“It's important to have those tools available,” he added, “and we really have been able to do that with a minimal number of staff hours. Being able to respond to member needs instantaneously is a big benefit.”