Generating non-dues revenue is a hot topic among trade associations these days, and as the economy remains less than thriving, many trade associations are having a difficult time finding additional ways to make money. While some are finding success in offering additional benefits and career centers online, others have begun offering professional certification programs to members as a means of bringing in new non-dues revenue.
The Benefits of Professional Certification Programs for Association Members
One of the reasons why certification programs are great at generating non-dues revenue is because association members who receive a certification can then advertise that on their resumes and in their business’ marketing materials. Essentially, in today’s tough economy, listing a professional certification on one’s resume or business materials can give a competitive edge. In addition, professional certification programs can provide association members with new knowledge as well as networking opportunities.
Benefits of Professional Certification Programs for Trade Associations
On top of providing the possibility to generate non-dues revenue, trade associations may benefit from offering professional certification programs in the way of member acquisition. By offering certification programs, your association is likely to attract new members, and these members will not only be paying dues, but they will also be paying for the certification programs, doubling your revenue for each member. Also, offering professional certification programs may help to boost your association’s brand and credibility in the business community.
Planning Out a Professional Credential Program
Although this method has proven to be successful, there are a number of things to consider before offering professional certification programs. When planning out what types of certification programs you’d like to offer, you’ll first need to consider what resources you have available. If your program will be offered online, you’ll need to ensure that your website has the proper infrastructure available to support extra traffic. If you’re planning on offering in-person certification classes, you’ll need to have the available time and manpower to hold these events.
You’ll also need to check with local, state, and federal laws and regulations for guidelines regarding the legality of offering such classes. In most states, regulations exist that govern certification classes, and you don’t want to have association members get certified, only to find out later that their certifications are invalid.
You may also need to bring on extra staff to keep up with certification records. Because your certifications may fall under various laws, it’s likely that you will be required to keep certain records on file in the event of a government audit. Likewise, you will want to have a record of which of your members are certified in order to provide these to potential employers or business partners of an association member. It’s also possible that you will need to file your certification credentials and lesson plans in order to be allowed to offer your programs. By getting your ducks in a row up front, you’re less likely to run into complications down the road.