aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Justifying the Value of Your Learning Programs

Posted by Ellen on November 17, 2009

I’m catching up on reading, which is why I’m just now coming around to posting about an article from the September issue of  T&D (ASTD’s magazine). In “Hitting the Suite Spot: How Learning Leaders and Executives Can Speak the Same Language,” Tom Kelly writes:

“The most successful learning leaders operate more like a profit center than a cost center, whether or not they actually bring in any direct revenue. This means approaching each decision as an investment — a business decision with a measured, quantifiable return in top-line revenue; productivity; or satisfaction and loyalty.” (p. 50)

Business leaders are focused on business outcomes. Learning leaders are focused on learning outcomes.

The fact is, what you’re focused on is not necessarily what your leadership is interested in hearing about.

Our association leaders are interested in whether we’re meeting budget, generating revenues, and providing value to our members so they’ll renew. I don’t mean to suggest these are cold people, but really — the board of directors wants to make sure the association stays solvent and the executive director of CEO wants to make sure we stay out of legal trouble *and* solvent.

Association leaders want proof that your programs:

  • advance the association’s mission and value to members
  • provide information and training that will protect the association from any legal action or illegal activity
  • promote the image of the association
  • contribute to membership growth and revenue

What’s more, the association leadership constitutes just one of two bosses we need to satisfy.

The other boss is the member’s boss, the person who signs requests for attending our educational sessions and conferences. They also want to see results. They want to know that the money they spent for your association member to attend your event was worth it. 

  • How has the professional development event enhanced the attendee’s ability to contribute to his or her organization?
  • Is that person now more productive as a result of attending?
  • Did he or she learn new skills or develop new ideas that can be implemented to the organization’s benefit?

Answer those questions for your members so they can justify the expenditure to their bosses, and you’ll have won most of the battle.

Most? Not all of the battle? That’s coming up in the next post…

One Response to “Justifying the Value of Your Learning Programs”

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