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Lisa Collins

Nov 18, 2022

6 Useful Resources for Association Professionals


Associations should provide their staff with appropriate professional development so they feel valued and can better add value to the association and it's members. Helping to ensure your association staff undertake their own professional development is not only good for the individual and your association but for the industry as a whole as employees move from one association to another sharing their experience and skillset. 

Employees believe that professional development improves a company's culture. It helps develop new skills and increases opportunities for career advancement. Employers recognise that organisations with a strong learning culture are 52% more productive.

Professional development can take many forms. Learn more here about 6 top professional development resources for association professionals.

1. ASAE Learning Centre

ASAE Center for Association Leadership has been in existence for more than 100 years. The organisation has more than 47,000 members. ASAE offers several types of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Online training activities
  • Conferences
  • In-person programs
  • Online seminars

Individual, group, or team subscriptions are available for the online courses. Discounts apply for members.

ASAE categorises its learning opportunities into three levels:

  • Foundational
  • Applied
  • Strategic

This helps users pick the courses that fit their experience.

2. .orgSource

For over 15 years, .orgSource has helped associations improve efficiency and drive growth. They offer a range of resources including:

  • Downloadable guidelines and whitepapers
  • Educational videos and webinars
  • Peer-to-peer advisory groups
  • In-person and online events

.orgSource is an affiliate of ASAE and the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits.

3. Credentials and Certifications

Association management pros have several credentials and certifications to choose from. Pursuing a certification requires a more structured approach. Candidates usually need to take a certain amount of coursework and pass an exam.

Certified Association Executive (CAE)

ASAE administers the Certified Association Executive (CAE) certification. It's one of the most widely recognised credentials for association pros. Eligibility requirements include:

  • At least five years as an employee or one year as an executive at a qualifying organisation
  • Bachelor's degree
  • At least 100 hours of association management related professional development

Candidates must pledge to uphold the ASAE Standards of Conduct. They may then sit for the exam.

Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP)

The Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) certification isn't specifically for association executives. However, it is highly relevant. The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance manages this certification program.

CNP certification has several requirements, such as:

  • At least 20 hours of volunteer service
  • At least eight years of experience in the social sector
  • Participation in at least one leadership conference
  • Education, such as a college degree, military service, or another professional certification

Passing the CNP exam is also a requirement.

Eligibility for the CNP credential requires even more professional experience than the CAE. Both certifications are professional development options for relatively experienced managers.

Nonprofit Management Certificate

Some universities offer a certificate in Nonprofit Management. Interested individuals can also take university courses without necessarily completing a certificate. These options typically don't require any professional experience.

Continuing education courses cover topics such as:

  • Financial management
  • Board management and governance
  • Fundraising
  • Donor development
  • Event management

Many of these programs and courses are online.

4. Association Chat

Association Chat is a less formal source for professional development. The organisation offers professional development resources in a range of formats. Their signature podcast is very popular.

Other professional development options include a knowledge hub with downloadable content including:

  • Whitepapers
  • Guides
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • Industry analysis

Industry experts and vendors contribute to this content.

As the name suggests, Association Chat also hosts live chats. The chats take place on platforms like Zoom and Twitter Spaces. They can provide valuable insights into the association industry.

5. Books

Digital options often top the list of professional development options. Books can also boost career advancement. Most titles are available in paper, e-reader, and audiobook formats.

Members can find books that fit their professional development goals. Options range from overviews of association management to in-depth reviews of specific issues. Forces for Good and Start with Why are two books that can change how you view association management.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

The authors of Forces for Good studied 12 large, global not-for-profits. This research is the basis for six key practices that create impactful organisations.

The book is inspirational but also evidence-based. It focuses on a range of practices. Nurturing networks and sharing leadership duties are two examples.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek gave one of the most popular TED talks of all time. Start with Why explains how great leaders inspire others to take action.

Sinek explains that these leaders focus first on why the organisation exists. Then they consider the what and the how. Sinek argues that the "why" is what motivates and retains association stakeholders.

Start with Why gives insights into how associations can communicate more effectively. The most successful organisations communicate from the inside out. They start with the "why."

6. Intuto

The best association member training is the development that truly reflects your organisation.

Intuto is a Learning Management System (LMS) used by many associations to provide professional development to their members. However, there is no reason why you can't use Intuto, or which ever LMS you use, to run your own training and professional development opportunities for staff.

Intuto lets you convert your existing training materials into engaging online courses. You can use pre-made templates or premium content from our partners. You can create as many courses as your leadership team and members need.

Online commenting facilitates group discussion. It makes your content more engaging and interactive.

Tracking and reports are also useful features with Intuto. You can monitor how much time people spend on your continuing education resources.

Association Member and Staff Training from Intuto

Intuto is your personalised source for association member training. We focus on professional associations, not-for-profits, and charities. The Intuto platform is affordable and easy to use. Meet with us to see how we can fulfil your organisation's needs.

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