Membership renewals are not a right although many organisations take them for granted.
This week I received my renewal notification for one of the Chartered bodies I belong to (they will remain nameless). I was uninspired. I was actually very disappointed.
I have only been a member since 2014 and, to be honest, am open to reasons why I should stay as the value I get from them is minimal. I joined purely to use their post-nominals and thought their CPD would be valuable and give me another dimension to the CPD I do through my other Chartered membership (the CIPR). On the former, I cannot say if I have benefited commercially, but my membership has been noted by potential clients. On the latter, I am most definitely underwhelmed with their CPD offering.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
This membership organisation’s CPD programme, although given a major overhaul this year, is very cumbersome and difficult to navigate. I am not a techno-phobe yet find it difficult to understand how to do what I need to. From a member perspective it seems to be a money-making path for the organisation as I cannot fathom how to earn CPD without paying £500+ for workshops/courses or even a small amount to attend events in my region which are nearly all early morning or evening and over an hour’s drive away. Earning CPD should not be difficult.
My membership renewals pack consisted of three sheets of A4 and gave no compelling reason for me to stay in membership. For this profession I do not need to be a member to continue to practice, so they should be trying really hard to make we want to stay. Perhaps they are relying on me wanting to keep the post-nominals.
Page 1 was a letter from the Chief Executive. It’s messages were:
- “It’s time to renew your membership and look forward to another year’s growth in your career”
- “Your professional development can continue to flourish over the next 12 months with our evolving member benefits, including webinars, created to give you access to the latest knowledge and support services. We also have a wealth of networking and growth opportunities to help you achieve your ambitions.”
- “As part of our commitment to ensuring that you have the tools you need to develop, we have updated our CPD programme. Take a look at the enclosed information to learn more about the recent changes and how they will affect you, or visit [insert their main web address].”
- The final sentence said: “We look forward to you continuing to benefit from being a member of the world’s largest [profession] community”
Page 2 was a statement to retain for my records informing me of the renewal amount and payment details.
Page 3 detailed the changes to the CPD system. A simple document typed in Word with a logo at the top. Not very interesting or appealing to draw attention to the salient points.
So … what in that above is a compelling reason for me to stay in membership for a third year? Nothing!
What could entice members to renew …
There is no silver bullet here and what works with one profession / industry will not work with another, but as a general rule making members feel valued and that you understand them will be a big plus.
In this instance, the membership organisation in question could have:
- thanked me for being a member for [X] years and said they are looking forward to me being a member for many more to come – this would at least make it look as though they value my membership and would continue to value it
- listed membership benefits rather than just stating there are some. Even to highlight a few which may be relevant would should show they understand who I am and what may appeal to me
- given details on the regional / sectoral group/s I belong to or could belong to to increase the value I get from my membership
- referenced the fact that I have not yet logged any CPD this cycle, but if I do before the deadline will be eligible for Chartered status.
- provided alook forward at what the organisation is planning on behalf of the profession or look back at what they have achieved for the profession during my year of membership
- highlighted opportunities open to me that I can only obtain through membership, e.g. be part of the future of the profession by standing for Council or being on a committee, speaking opportunities to raise my profile, etc
To be perfectly frank, if I was not so close to becoming a Chartered practitioner with them, I would not be renewing. Evidence shows that once a member becomes Chartered, they are less likely to resign a membership as it would be difficult to regain this status once lost with the membership. Why did they therefore not highlight my Chartered status being in touching distance?
I am at a loss for words with this organisation. They seem to be resting on their laurels and assuming membership renewals will roll in and not question why. How arrogant! I want them to at least make me feel that I am valued and that they want me to stay in the fold.
Yes, I will be renewing, and will give them one more year to convince me my membership is worthwhile. If I do become Chartered – to match the Chartered Practitioner status I have with my other professional body (the CIPR), I may well stay for longer, but it will be in spite of their new CPD system, not because of it as they make it so darn hard to do their CPD. If I am not successful in my bid for their Chartered status, they will have to work a lot harder next year for me to stay.