Associations face the challenging years. Most reported a decline in membership compared to those who stated an increase. But there is the light of hope that can stop this downward trend – the badging program.
Association members want something concrete from the membership. They want to show off their skills and make valuable connections that work as a booster for their professional reputation. It’s time to listen to these expectations and create a digital badge program.
What is a badging program?
A badging program is a structured approach to recognize specific skills or participation within a community. These badges are like virtual skill tags that your members can earn by doing certain things.
Let's say they attend a workshop the association offers – they’ll get a badge. Or they’ve been a member for a certain number of years – they’ll get another badge for that.
You can quickly develop such a badging program with the digital credentialing platform Certifier. It’s a simple and intuitive solution that allows anyone to create, send, and manage badges in a single secure platform (more on that later).
15 Benefits of using badges for the Association and its members
With our experience as a digital credentialing platform, we've seen how beneficial digital badges can be. So, we made a list of the advantages we observed. Here are the 15 biggest reasons to implement digital badging initiatives in your professional associations.
#1 Strengthen member loyalty
People like to see the progress. With badges, you're giving them something tangible. Something they can use as a small reward on their way to achieving professional goals. When motivated with badges, members feel a deeper connection to the association. It leads them to maintain and renew their association membership.
#2 Attracting new members
A comprehensive badging program works as a magnet for members. It can be a unique selling point for job seekers looking to boost their professional skills and gain recognition. It’s working like word of mouth – your members share the badges, and somebody new gets to know about your community.
#3 Sense of community
Speaking of the community. Membership badge has the potential to group members under shared aspirations and interests. Members sharing common badge objectives inevitably cultivates a feeling of unity and belonging. In turn, it amplifies community spirit within the association. It is another point that keeps them among active members.
#4 Increased participation
The prospect of earning badges can motivate members to be more active in associations' events and activities. As they strive to earn these badges, their engagement level intensifies. All in all, participation boosts attendance and enriches member interaction. Moreover, the more people come to your events, the more professional network opportunities they will have.
#5 Spotlighting experts
Getting a badge shows how good you are at something. That’s why the association can easily pinpoint experts and people who know certain areas. Community members can match mentors and mentees and share knowledge. As an association, it can be a considerable asset that sets you apart from other groups.
#6 Boosted association image
A well-designed association membership recognition badge can reflect your members' commitment to professional growth. All of that helps you enhance your organization's reputation and attractiveness. When you become widely known among the market and influential people in the industry, you'll become where everyone wants to be.
#7 Potential revenue stream
The badging program provides a monetization possibility. Members might get basic badges in the membership package, but the association could sell badges or specialized training programs for an extra fee. Sounds like a deal? It can make your badging program more attractive.
#8 Adaptation to modern learning trends
A digital badging program not only keeps your association current but makes it future-proof. Badging aligns with contemporary learning trends that emphasize micro-credentials and personalized learning journeys. It keeps you relevant and valuable in the eyes of the new wave of Gen Z employees.
#9 New partnership opportunities
Getting co-branded badges from industry giants is a win-win. Partnerships such as these increase the association's influence and allow it to carry out joint promotional activities. Moreover, it positions your association as a frontrunner in industry thought leadership.
#10 Enhanced engagement
Gamification elements associated with badge achievements, such as progress tracking and earning points, make the member experience more interactive. This kind of add-ons drives members to attend events, participate in training sessions, and take part in various initiatives. And when members are engaged, they're more likely to share their experiences and become association advocates.
#11 Peer and community recognition
It's in human nature to want recognition for their achievements. Through badges, associations provide a visual representation of each member's individual accomplishments. It boosts the confidence of the achiever and allows their hard work to be recognized by peers, superiors, and the broader community. All of this fosters a sense of belonging.
#12 Goal-oriented motivation
A badge lays down a clear path filled with goals. Badges stir a passion in members motivate them to engage more deeply in association, participate in crucial events – and learn and grow. The ambitious members of an association are a good indication for potential participants that membership carries some kind of prestige.
#13 Skill and expertise validation
As members earn badges related to specific skills, they gain official recognition of their expertise. It can prove particularly useful when looking for new job opportunities, clients, or collaborators. Also, it’s a kind of recognition your members can add to, e.g., optimize a LinkedIn profile.
#14 Facilitated networking
Badges can act as conversation starters during networking events. When members spot others with similar or complementary badges, it naturally paves the way for discussions centered around shared interests. It makes the networking process more efficient and allows members to start meaningful connections with ease.
#15 Greater credibility
The level of commitment to continuous learning and professional development often determines credibility in professional settings. Earned badges demonstrate a member's commitment to their ongoing education. As a result, they can position themselves as individuals who prioritize excellence in their chosen field.
How to implement a badging program to your association with Certifier?
Looking at all these badging program pluses, one question may come to your mind – but how to implement it? Creating badges for association doesn’t have to be an uphill task. There is just one secret key. Certifier.
Here are a few simple steps to help you start your own badging program.
Step 1: Create a Certifier account
Create an account and become a Certifier member for free. You just have to fill out two basic information – email and name. That’s all.
Step 2: Open the badge editor
Certifier provides a badge editor that allows you to create badges quickly. You can choose from ready-made templates or start from scratch. No matter which option suits you more, you can customize badge details as far as you want to. Add, remove, and change elements. The sky is the limit here.
Step 3: Distribute badges
Sending badges via Certifier is super simple. You can upload Google or Excel spreadsheets with recipients' email addresses and automate the badging process. Then, track and manage badges from one dashboard – see who opens the email, which emails bounce, or who has already shared their badge on social media. You can even customize the email template!
If you need more information on badge creation, here is a comprehensive guide on how to create digital badges in bulk.
How to effectively measure the impact of your badging program in your association?
But how can the association determine whether a badge program is worth the effort? There are a few things that you can do to be sure that a badging program is far more than just a good idea.
Conduct feedback and surveys
There is no better way to get to know your members than to ask them. Gather input from participants through surveys and feedback forms. It gives you the necessary insight into the members' needs and the membership influence on their career growth, job performance, or networking opportunities. It’s also the easiest way to identify any gaps for improvement.
Besides formal surveys, do regular check-ins with members during events or webinars.
Offer a small incentive, like a discount on membership renewal, for members who complete surveys.
Include open-ended questions in surveys to capture qualitative insights.
Keep track of progress
Even if you have created an excellent badging program (we believe so) and implemented the best association management software, it's not the end of the journey. You still should keep a finger on the pulse and record the professional growth of badge earners. Monitor outcomes such as promotions or salary ranges. Such navigation of career opportunities is tangible evidence that illustrates the program's real-world impact. And there, for sure, will be something to brag about!
Monitor social sharing
Keep an eye out for members showing off their current badges on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This isn't just for vanity – it's a sign that they're proud of their achievements and spreading the word about your awesome badge program. Likes, retweets, and comments are like applause from the virtual crowd.
Create an eye-catching digital badge design that members can easily share on social media.
When awarding badges, include a friendly reminder for sharing badges on social media. If you share your badges with Certifier, they can share them via digital badge email with one click!
Do you want to use this association member badge template? Sign up for more.
Assess employer satisfaction
Talk to employers and supervisors about how they see the impact of badge earners in their teams. Do they notice a boost in skills? Are these badgeholders bringing new ideas to the table? Are they standing out in a crowd? If employers are nodding their heads with satisfaction, that's a big thumbs up for your badging program.
Connect with current employers on LinkedIn and showcase the badge achievements of their employees in your association's posts.
Organize workshops or webinars aimed at employers to show how the badge program can benefit their teams.
Effective digital credential system for associations
A digital badge initiative is a great way to keep members engaged in your membership association. Could this be the answer to forgetting the stagnation at the association?
The only thing left for you to do is to try a badge provider. With Certifier, you can do it at no cost. Try to see how a digital badging program adds life to your association.
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WRITTEN BYSergey Butko
Tech entrepreneur. Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe. Digital Marketer.