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How to Increase Your Non-Dues Revenue by Offering Certifications

If you’re looking for a way to increase your non-dues revenue and member engagement, add a certification to your association’s educational benefit tool belt.

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Your benefits have always doubled as a way to get members involved and a valuable source of non-dues revenue. But what if you’re missing out on opportunities to increase your revenue stream? Educational resources are always highly sought after by those looking to join an association or organization. In an article from WBT Systems, a recent poll found education to be one of the top member priorities in any association. Whether your members are young professionals or highly valued senior executives in their field, there’s always room for improvement in terms of education. And that being said, providing as many opportunities to grow and learn can keep members satisfied- while also gaining you some serious revenue.

If this sounds like the right opportunity for your association, allow us to introduce you to the world of certifications. Certifications are an amazing way to offer your members a resource they can use to further their professional skills. And they also allow you to create a brand new stream of revenue that can allot you more income to use to your advantage. With that being said, we’re going to show you how your association can tap into the value of certifications, as well as a step-by-step plan to create a certification your association can call its own.

Certifications: Where to start

So, you want to introduce a certification program into your association’s benefits. Where do you begin? First, let’s talk all about what a certification really is so you can understand why they’re so valuable to your members. Certifications are a document of proof for those with advanced professional skills and accomplishments. They symbolize all of the knowledge, hard work, and dedication that go into the process of enhancing your knowledge in a specific field. And not to mention, a certification looks incredible on any professional’s resume. Often times, people can confuse certifications with certificate programs.

While certificate programs are also another revenue-increasing resource that your association can implement as a tool for members, they are in fact different from certifications. Certificate programs are typically an instructional course that provide knowledge on a skill. While those taking a certificate program receive a certificate and/or digital badge, certificate courses are not as intensive as certifications. Typically, certifications require a renewal process after a certain amount of time, which is another way to keep your revenue stream alive and well. It also keeps your members up to date with the knowledge needed to earn a certification, ensuring their employers and professional colleagues that they continue to develop this skill.

There are so many different certifications that can be offered and awarded, so let’s go over a few simple steps to start up a certification process of your own.

1. Know what members are looking for

The first step of your association’s certification creation is easy: You need to figure out what members want out of their learning process. Chances are, your association deals with professionals in a specific field or industry. And if this isn’t the case, then there are still core educational skills and/or lessons that most professionals are looking to become certified in. Knowing about your members can help you get down to the bottom of those needs in order to create a certification that provides the ultimate value.

In order to find out this information, you’ll need to know who your members are, both as professionals and as individuals. By analyzing your member demographics, you’ll have a much better idea at what they excel in, what their struggles are, and what they might be looking to improve upon. Keeping your member data organized and up to date can help with this.

You can also find out more about what members are looking for by surveying members on their educational needs. Surveys can provide your association with feedback on anything you’d like, so don’t hesitate to create a survey for your certification planning.

2. Research similar models

Once you have an idea on the certification you’d like to provide, you can start working on crafting it. And looking to other models that have seen success can help you get a better idea of what your certification should entail. Take some time to research other associations, organizations, and companies with certifications. You can see what is working well for other associations that have long standing programs with high success rates. There has to be a specific reason that members are flocking to their certifications, so taking notes and implementing similar practices can only help your certification get its footing with your own membership.

Similarly, you want to take note of what each certification offers those who finish. You never want your members to feel underwhelmed or unsatisfied with what they’re receiving from your certification. Therefore, gauging what you should offer based on other certifications can keep you on the track to satisfied recipients. If you’re looking for a place to start, you can check out ASAE’s certification primer to get on track with your certification creation.

3. Create a schedule and stick to it

When getting the parts of your certification moving, you want to be sure to create a reasonable timeline that ensures your certification is up and running when you want it to. By creating a schedule, your association is able to micro manage each portion of the certification process.

This also ensures your association’s staff takes its time with each step, keeping the quality of your certification at its peak and minimizing any concerns, problems, or frustrations your members might have with the certification process. If you want to keep your timeline and schedule well organized, you can use a task manager app/software.

Tools like Asana allow you to create and share tasks with your association’s team. You can then track tasks in real-time, collaborate on projects with team members, leave comments and critiques, set deadlines, and mark tasks complete. With organization like this, you’ll stay on top of every move you make towards creating your certification. Stick to a schedule and break your process into smaller parts, and you’ll see a fully fleshed out certification right on time.

Certifications are a great paid service to offer members that give them the skills they’re looking for and the credentials employers will love to see. So, if you’re looking for a way to increase your non-dues revenue, add a certification to your association’s educational benefit tool belt.