Why Your Association Needs an LMS in 2022—Even Though You Survived the Pandemic Without One

You made it this far through the pandemic without an LMS, and with in-person conferences back on the schedule, why would your association need an LMS now? After all, your budget is tight and your members are eager to get back to in-person education and networking.

Naturally, you think you can live without an LMS—and you probably could. But for how long? And what happens in the meantime? What engagement, retention, and revenue opportunities will you miss? As others capture the attention and interest of your audience, what damage will your market share, budget, and reputation incur?

Digital transformation for everyone!

Admittedly, we’re biased about the essential role an LMS can play for associations in fulfilling their mission and delivering value to their members and market, but some facts are indisputable.

We live in a different world than we did 19 months ago. Our society had a digital transformation. Many aspects of life were forced online during the pandemic, and for many people, stayed there. Online education became mainstream for kids and adults. Schools, colleges, universities, corporate training programs, and association conferences and courses went from in-person to virtual.

People of all generations changed how they use technology to consume information and entertainment, shop, socialize, work, and go about their daily lives. You can imagine young members saying to their associations, “It’s about time you caught up!” But did yours?

An LMS gives you the power to meet the changing needs of employers and professionals in your industry. You can also use an LMS to welcome members and employees to your association and train volunteer leaders. Best of all, an LMS will pay for itself many times over with the revenue it generates for your association.

director of education facing reality - association needs an LMS

Why every association needs an LMS in their near future

If you thought an LMS was just for online courses and credentialing programs, you’ll be pleased to know it can serve your association, members, and industry in many other ways too.

LMS for professional development and credentialing programs

These days, the LMS is earning its keep more than ever. Lifelong learning has always been an imperative for anyone who seeks to better themselves, advance their career, or grow their business. But in this fluid job market, the demand for professional development is growing. People want to enhance their skills as they look for new employers who can meet their desire for remote or in-person work. The upheaval in industries, like hospitality and retail, has contributed to the increased need for reskilling. Since every industry is experiencing change, the need for upskilling is constant.

In an August 2021 survey by Monster, 56% of respondents expressed concern about the future of their career because of a potential skills gap. 45% said they would be more likely to stay with their current employer if they were offered skills training. But corporate spending on L&D decreased last year and, in a May 2021 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society of Human Resource Management, only 20% of employers said they planned to increase investment in skills training this year.

The market demand for online courses and credentialing is growing, which is why for-profit educational company Coursera reported revenue growth of 38% in the second quarter of 2021 and 2U, who recently acquired EdX, reported 36% growth in its “alternative credentials” business for the same quarter.

People are ready for virtual education, as long as your online courses and programs are engaging, enjoyable, and effective. Expectations are higher now. You must enhance the social learning aspect of live (synchronous) programs and liven up the content in self-paced (asynchronous) programs.

LMS for corporate training

During the pandemic, new corporate training needs emerged as managers and employees had to learn how to navigate remote work, compliance issues, employee wellbeing, and change management. Many associations recognized this market need and partnered with member companies to develop training programs and learning pathways for their employees.

The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research increased their online education revenue by 101% in 2020. They focused on selling training to insurance agencies via branded learning portals in TopClass LMS. They also launched a subscription-based pricing model that gave individuals and companies unlimited online access to credentialing programs and courses.

LMS for virtual conferences

With an LMS like TopClass, you don’t have to spend money on a virtual event platform. Your LMS serves as the virtual conference hub. Attendees start and end their day there, go to Zoom sessions, pop into networking breakout rooms, watch recordings of sessions they miss, and participate in discussion forums.

Prior to the pandemic, the Ohio Society of CPAs delivered 80% of their educational programming in person. Since they’ve gone virtual, attendance has skyrocketed. Due to venue capacity, attendance at one of their signature programs was limited to 125 to 300 people. Now, the same event attracts 2200 to 2300 people online.

Even post-pandemic, many people can’t or won’t attend an in-person conference because of budget or schedule restraints, employer travel restrictions, parenting or caretaking responsibilities, or health concerns. An LMS expands your audience by making your education more accessible to all.

volunteer leader at orientation - association needs an LMS

LMS for leadership and volunteer onboarding and training

Improve the volunteering and leadership experience by using an LMS for volunteer orientation, training, and leadership development. Volunteers can work through orientation and training modules at their own pace, and you can track their progress so you know who’s completed required training.

Many associations use their LMS to train members who serve on boards, chapter boards, committees, and other governance groups. You can ensure members understand their roles and responsibilities, and develop the necessary soft and technical skills needed for their position.

To keep your leadership pipeline full, offer leadership development learning pathways in your LMS. You can provide the training that emerging leaders need not only for volunteer roles, but also for career advancement at work.

LMS for sponsors and exhibitors

Many associations use their LMS as a year-round content hub for sponsors and exhibitors. These vendors have content expertise to share with your members and market, and they’ll pay for that privilege. Together, you can attract members and customers to your LMS to take advantage of sponsored resources such as:

•    Articles, case studies, reports, checklists, templates, videos, podcast episodes, and curated content bundles.
•    Participation in demo days, like the ones offered by ASAE.
•    Live events, such as roundtable discussions, Ask-Me-Anythings. hackathons, brainstorming sessions, and lunch-and-learns.
•    Educational content, such as webinars and mini courses.

LMS for new member onboarding

With an LMS, you can guide a new member through an onboarding experience that’s tailored to their interests. Instead of throwing all the information at them at once, break it down into short videos or snippets of information that are sent over time. You can set up learning pathways for distinct types of members, for example:

•    Supplier members vs. practitioner members.
•    Early-career vs. late-career members.
•    Members in areas with chapters vs. those in areas without chapters.

LMS for employee onboarding, training, and knowledge-sharing

An LMS doesn’t just have to be for members and customers, you can use your LMS internally too. New employees suffer from the same information overload as new members. Break up orientation content into manageable chunks—short videos and reading assignments—followed up by a meeting with HR or their supervisor to discuss questions or concerns.

You can store internal documents in the LMS, such as employee handbooks, policies, and project retrospectives. Send notifications to staff asking them to review policy updates and track who’s completed that assignment.

An LMS’s primary purpose is to facilitate education. Think about the different segments of your membership and market, and the many ways you can provide information and education to them—an LMS can make that happen.

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