Membership is the bedrock of any professional body; members give APM purpose, guidance and endorsement. It is the universal measure of an association’s health and well-being.
But times are changing and membership must continue to evolve. Digital communities and global communications are growing, and there is access to more professional information than ever before.
As part of the Strategy 2020 programme – which last month announced the re-launch of Project to an in-depth quarterly journal - we have investigated APM individual membership. APM is unusual in enjoying sustained membership growth for the last decade. Through our independent research we were open minded to make the changes necessary, no matter how radical, to ensure APM remains relevant and provides clear career paths for professionals.
We needn’t have worried; the research endorsed membership as valuable to a professional’s profile. 93% of over 2000 respondents were very likely to renew their membership and 90% rated APM positively; ahead of industry benchmarks.
Building on this platform of success, the research identified a number of areas for improvement; which have become work packages for the next phase of the review.
Increased the value of membership amongst employers
Professional recognition is overwhelmingly why members join and stay with APM. Building recognition of membership amongst employers is a priority. Our recent salary survey with career development partners Wellingtone revealed MAPM’s are 30% more likely to earn over £50k and 2.5 times more likely to earn over £100k. This is one illustration of the value of APM membership - we need to ensure this is recognised as widely as possible.
Engage with future members early
Joining APM is a considered decision, so the relationship with members starts before they complete an application. Engagement with APM ‘followers’ – particularly online – is an important part of the membership journey and we need to raise awareness of how membership and other APM services can support career development amongst non-members.
Around 8,000 people start an APM application every year and 30% complete it. Our research suggests that non-members can find the process difficult; so membership, though growing, doesn’t reflect its true value. Joining APM must be straight forward but remain rigorous if MAPM is to maintain its value.
Refine the membership package
When asked what members wanted from their membership the message was clear; professional recognition, a professional journal, an events programme and access to digital resources. These are areas we need to focus on and improve so membership continues to add value.
Not only do we need to focus on delivering members the right benefits we need to continue to promote those benefits. It is easy for members to lose sight of what is available and some had difficulty recalling what was on offer to them. We need to maintain APM as the first port of call for members’ professional knowledge and standards.
Members are generally happy with their membership package, but there was a recurring mention of ‘career mentoring’ as a possible future service. This is an interesting and exciting area, and one we will be investigating.
The importance of APM events cannot be under-estimated. Even with social media helping to connect people, events offer a high quality professional development experience and the opportunity to build lasting relations and important connections. Events are highly regarded; it is an area we will continue to improve.
These six areas represent the key strands of an improved membership offering and the key to growing and sustaining APM membership. Now we know what we need to achieve, here comes the tricky bit; how do we do it?