aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

More Training and Education = Higher Profits

Posted by Ellen on November 4, 2009

Or “Why Providing Education and Training Is Good for Your Members.”

Okay, we all know that, or we wouldn’t be in the field of education. But we’re also surrounded by those who keep demanding that we show some results for all the money we spend on our educational events — face-to-face and online.

For more than ten years, Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer have been studying the relationship between corporate training investments and their profitability. They’ve concluded — time and again — that companies providing training and PD to employees are consistently more profitable, even allowing for the wild market swings we’ve recently seen.

What does this matter to you and to your non-profit organization?

Too often we think of our association members as “members” rather than as professionals taking what they gain from our programs back to their medical practices, educational institutions, business offices, or other places of employment. They contribute there, which further contributes to the bottom line of their company or institution.

Here’s the challenge:

  • Mine your registration and completion data (for all programs) to find the members (or institutions, if you’re a trade association) that have participated most frequently in your educational programs.
  • Ask those individuals or institutions for data related to their profitability for a specified period. Have they consistently performed in the top 10% of their market segment? 20%? (Your measurement standard might differ, depending on the field.)
  • Look for a correlation. If  data from Bassi and McMurrer holds, you should be able to see a positive relationship between the amount of professional development and the level of profit realized.  

Now you have data that can come in handy in at least a couple of ways:

  • Shows your board of directors the effect your educational programs are having in your members’ businesses, institutions, etc.
  • Demonstrates to your members the value they’re getting from the educational programs you’re offering.
  • Provides your members with data they can take back to their superiors that helps make the case that the investment in your association and its education programs is worthwhile.

Sure, correlations are just that, and there can be many reasons for profitability. There are likely many organizations spending little on professional development but raking in the dough and at high profit margins.

But when someone just wants to see numbers, and when you can make a strong case for their validity, you’d be remiss not to at least take a whack at it.

Interested in reading more? Here’s the article summary, from Workforce:

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