Members Need Their Associations More Than Ever
Community Brands conducted a 2021 Association Trends Study to help association leaders better understand the changing interests of their members. In the past year-and-a-half, much has shifted for professional membership associations. Staff had to move to a work-from-home setting (and in some cases back again) while continuing to provide value to members in an all-virtual or hybrid (in-person and online) environment. Members faced challenges in many aspects of their lives as well.
One insight that stands out from the study: Members need their associations more than ever.
Professional organizations remain a beacon in uncertain times. Members say the importance of their organization has grown – even more than in a similar study conducted last year. Loyalty metrics also remain strong, and younger and more diverse members are increasing their engagement.
Members describe how important their organizations are today compared to a year ago:
- 56% say it’s more important
- 35% say the same
- 6% say less
Here are some key takeaways from the 2021 Association Trends Study that show how associations can provide for their members.
Hybrid Events Are the Future
Members expect their organization to offer hybrid (in-person and virtual) options for all or most events and are more hesitant than Pros about getting back to in-person this fall. Pros are embracing hybrid event models, but it is not without challenges. Your association can connect employers and job seekers at your annual meetings, events or career fairs – and YM Careers can deliver those events in a hybrid setting. Career events are fully managed by the YM Careers events team – from marketing, to sales, to execution. Cater to your members by hosting hybrid events that will grow member value and engagement and connect employers with qualified candidates – all while increasing your non-dues revenue.
Members Want More Learning Options
As in previous surveys, employers and professional organizations continue to be the most popular sources of education and training for members. At the same time, while most Pros are focused on traditional conferences and courses (online and in-person), members are interested in a range of professional training opportunities. Your association can show members and early career professionals a clear path to reach their professional goals, including providing recommended courses and learning paths. Career Journey® by YM Careers inspires and empowers members to map out their career path. This career center solution allows members to plan their next career step with confidence that it will help them reach their ultimate career goals. Members are provided with a description of each role and a highlight of the critical skills needed to be successful in that role. They can then evaluate their current skills and determine what areas they need to focus on in order to succeed. Members can design their own personalized career action plans, including the learning, training and experiences required to reach their career goals.
Association Pros Underestimate the Value Members Place on Career Development
While 36% of members want help with career advancement, only 30% of Pros see that as a valuable member benefit. A discrepancy of 6% exists between members and Pros on the value of mentoring. By having robust, innovative career center software, your association can offer members the resources and insights they need to research, plan and develop their careers and be the ultimate career planning destination. And, only 19% of Pros believe job opportunities are important but 35% of members want those provided by their association. Your organization can match members with their next great job opportunity. Attract and engage members while maximizing revenue with the world’s top niche job board software – YM Careers.
Boosting Member Loyalty in 2022
You can offer many means of fostering member loyalty, including:
- Membership loyalty programs: Align benefits with member values. Use surveys or other methods to ask for feedback from members about what they want and consider how to deliver it.
- Convenience: Make it easy for members to find you, interact with you, and renew their memberships. Consider offering automatic payment services or seamless online renewals for better retention.
- A place to connect: Create opportunities for members to engage with exclusive online neighborhoods and active social media communities. Host virtual conferences or events where members can interact with peers and colleagues.
- A personal experience: Leverage your member data insights and relationships to develop a more individualized approach to interaction with them. Communicate appreciation and ensure they feel your association understands and supports them.
Two more essential strategies for increasing member satisfaction and loyalty emerge for 2022 — thought leadership and professional development benefits.
Become a Thought Leader
Members turn to their organizations for information and research that improves their daily lives. The ideal way to deliver on their need for those resources is through consistent and valuable content generation. These communications can come in many forms, including:
- Sharing user stories, case studies, and practical experiences.
- Publishing survey results or proprietary research.
- Posting industry-related expertise to build your reputation as an authority.
- Promoting standards and guidelines.
- Developing and sharing best practices.
Use all the channels at your disposal to publicize your content, including social media links, newsletters, and your association website.
Offer Career-Improving Member Benefits
Professional development and job opportunities are among the essential member rewards your association offers. Your members depend on your organization to give them opportunities to advance their knowledge and careers by:
- Offering comprehensive training resources: Deliver webinars, on-demand virtual courses, and certification preparation classes to help members broaden their expertise.
- Providing networking opportunities: Consider hosting virtual events, in-person gatherings, and an active mentorship program to help members connect with decision-makers and experienced industry practitioners. Many members also appreciate the chance to serve their communities, interact with others, and gain experience with meaningful volunteering.
- Developing a mentor program: Sponsor a program that pairs seasoned industry employees with those just starting their careers. Both parties benefit from fresh perspectives and the chance to build leadership skills.
- Supporting an exclusive job board: Maintain good relationships with industry employers so you can find out about upcoming openings. Post current vacancies to connect job seekers with career opportunities.
Become the Resource Your Members Need
After more than a year of disturbances, distractions, and adjustments, many associations now face a new challenge: How to move forward when members’ needs, behaviors, and perspectives have changed. One fact is clear: Members need their associations more than ever.
Achieving member loyalty can be challenging without the right technology tools. Ensure you have a partner like YM Careers on your side.
Our job board and career center software helps organizations like yours increase member acquisition and retention and grow your members’ careers. We have over 20 years of experience driving member growth and non-dues revenue with a fully integrated technology solution custom-made for trade associations. Schedule your exclusive demo today or connect with a YM Careers representative to learn more.
Get the 2021 Association Trends Study
Access the full study to learn even more about what members want from their associations.