Membership organisations have always played a crucial part of a professional’s career. You may not have joined one previously as a children’s activity provider, but you’ve likely been part of one in another career or job you had or at the very least know of some the most well-known communities. They helped people network, connect and seek opportunities to do business of develop themselves.
However, fast forward to 2021 and in the age of social media where online connections are easy to find and most professional groups meet primarily online, why even consider being part of a membership organisation or association? Is there even any relevance or need to be part of a professional community?
The answer still remains unequivocally yes.
Despite today’s hyper-connected online world, the following 6 benefits of membership organisations or associations for children’s activity providers make a clear case and we’ve outlined what our members at the Institute of Children’s Activity Providers (ICAP) have said about our membership body.
One of the core reasons for us existing is a need for greater representation for the sector. The Government guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic have consistently been released with a healthy dose of not understanding what providers actually “do” so we’ve helped clarify those where we can, as well as lobbying Governments along the way. We won’t be stopping there either – our voice will only grow stronger the larger our community grows, and we’ll be aiming to meet future sector challenges head on.
Speaking of which, we’re building something really special and have some exciting plans for the rest of 2021. Currently members meet mostly digitally or reach out to one another via email, but we’ll be running in person learning events in later in the year, such as our masterclass event we have planned as soon as guidelines allow. This will be a great chance to not only learn, but network and meet other like-minded individuals.
3. Professional Development
A lot of business owners are guilty of not continuing their professional development once they launch. Day to day life gets in the way and we all stray into auto-pilot mode where learning doesn’t always remain a priority. But we’d argue it really should be, not just for yourself, but importantly for the success of your business. We know from member feedback, ICAP has supported this need for ongoing learning and development.
Building trust with your customers and wider audience is mission critical and while it’s unlikely many parents will know of most membership bodies (including ICAP) that are relevant, there are studies to show customers will ‘trust’ brands who show commitment to continuous improvement through learning, memberships, affiliations etc. All our members can use their membership badge on their website, social media, email signatures and physical materials.
5. Quality Assurance Rating
Part of building that trust and credibility is one of our development tools included in membership. This tool is the Quality Assurance Rating where members can apply to have their business assessed using our tailored framework. It’s not compulsory and it’s not something dictating how you should run your business – it’s more a way of us putting our years of experience in the sector to good use by guiding people on what they need to consider to run and develop a successful activity business. Best bit is we hand out one, two and three gold kite ratings to each provider based on what level of answers they provide. Aside from patting yourself on the back, these ratings can be used to build trust with your audience and customer base using our shiny rating badges.
6. Resources & Perks
We’ve also got four toolkits with 40+ templates, guides, reports, plans and spreadsheets you can download and use. This along with the library of webinars we add to each month mean we have lots of new content added regularly. We’re also setting up new programmes, completely free for members, such as our Mentoring Programme where we help connect business owners with highly experienced professionals to advise, soundboard and support.
The Institute of Children’s Activity Providers (ICAP) is a professional membership body for the children’s activities sector. We support providers through advice and thought leadership; best practice and compliance; education and networking; and we champion and promote collaboration in the industry.
What our members say:
“In the short life so far ICAP have been immensely supportive of our business needs and in providing up to date and relevant information. They have become an important voice in and for my business.”
“Highly recommended! If you are a Children’s Activity Provider, then it is a MUST to be a part of ICAP! The information and support have been valuable to me and my business.”
“ICAP provides lots of information & support for my business & helps me feel I’m not on my own within the children’s activity sector.”
“The benefits of being a member are well worth the subscription fee. The help and advice are second to none and is helping me grow my business and become a better leader.”
“I love being part of an organisation leading the way for children’s providers so I can access lots of information and guidance. The communication is clear, professional and positive (much needed at this time!”