Abila Member Professional Development Study Explores Gaps and Opportunities Between Professional Member Organizations and the Members They Serve

Study examines what members look for when it comes to professional development and continuing education, including content, pricing and generational preferences.

April 6, 2017 – AUSTIN, TexasAbila, the leading provider of software and services to associations,nonprofits and government entities, announced today findings from its Member Professional Development Study: Aligning Education Strategy with What Matters Most to Members. This study explores what members look for when it comes to professional development and continuing education, including the importance of content, sources members turn to for education, how members prefer to pay for learning and how different generations view the value of education.

“Professional development and continuing education are vitally important to members,” said Amanda Myers, Abila’s director of member strategy and study co-author. “For many of these members, education is a way to differentiate themselves from their peers and move ahead in their careers. For the most part, members value the education programs offered by their associations; however, there are definitely some gaps that exist and opportunities to improve.”

Key Findings Include:

  • Attracting younger members can be challenging: The number one challenge identified by professional organizations is attracting younger members to education and training programs. Millennials turn to their employer for professional education, first, and the associations to which they belong, second.
  • Content is king: Across all age groups, the plethora of new, readily accessible, lower-cost education options is a threat to associations. But expertise in content can be a differentiator. The number one reason members across all generations engage in continuing education or professional development is because of the content. Specifically, practical, skill-based information that can be used immediately is highly valued by members.
  • Association members are turning to a variety of sources for professional development: While associations and employers remain the top “go-to” sources for professional development and training, members rely on multiple resources for their development – and value all of them for opportunities for growth and career advancement.
  • Technology is a challenge for associations: Finding the right technology tools and learning management platforms remains a challenge for many associations. Only a third or fewer of professionals surveyed are “very satisfied” with their ability to target outreach, run reports or provide interactive features for their members participating in courses.
  • There is a gap between the way associations charge for professional development and what members want: Most members want education and training to be all-inclusive in the membership dues, while only about one-third of associations take this approach. Many associations are committed to a pay-as-you-go model, but this has very little appeal to members – particularly Millennials.

“There is a hunger for good, quality education programs from members. Associations that take the time to assess their current education programs and look for ways to engage younger members will benefit in the long run,” continued Myers.

The full report can be downloaded at: www.abila.com/professional-development-study.

About the Study

Commissioned by Abila, Edge Research conducted online surveys with more than 1,000 members in the United States across three age segments – Millennials, Generation Xers and Boomers. Questions were also posed to more than 100 association professionals who work at professional membership organizations. The association professionals surveyed are involved in decisions around professional development and continuing education. The online surveys took place between January 18 and February 13, 2017.

About Abila

Abila is the leading provider of software and services to associations and nonprofit organizations that help them use data and personal insight to improve financial and strategic decision making, enhance member and donor engagement and value, operate more efficiently and effectively, and increase revenue to better activate their mission. Abila combines decades of industry experience with technology know-how to serve nearly 8,000 customers across North America. For more information, please visit www.abila.com. To subscribe to the Abila blog, visit Forward Together.

Media Contact:
Andy Prince