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Re-engaging Senior Practitioners

One of the most challenging issues for AFP Chapters is meeting the needs of senior practitioners.  Mike House, CFRE, president of the Edmonton and Area Chapter, will tell you his chapter has the same issue.  That’s why last year when he decided to do something about it, he committed himself to doing a survey of senior practitioners to find out what they wanted in terms of workshops and training.

Strategic thinking/management topped the list of workshops senior practitioners were most interested in.  Also included in the list of top five workshop topics were leadership development, examination of the role of executives in the nonprofit sector, change management and financial literacy.

“For too long,” says House, “we’ve ignored the needs of senior practitioners and concentrated too much on ‘how to do’ programs.”   House does not diminish the ongoing need for “how to” programs but says he believes there is a good and needed market in more advanced programming.

We need to have a closer look at this kind of training, because we may be missing a huge opportunity to re-engage senior practitioners in our chapters, meet their training needs, and generate some much needed revenue in the process.”

When asked what topics, if mastered, would lead to their success in the field, 75 percent of survey respondents identified leadership and innovation.  Strategy was identified by 64 percent while 36 percent indicated that an ability to develop a strong culture and a getting a better handle on managerial decision-making would help them be successful.  Upwards of 33 percent of respondents identified financial literacy and change management as competencies necessary for their success.

The survey, conducted in March 2012, indicated that 80 percent of respondents were willing to register for a course if it was of interest to them and the instruction met excellence in training standards.  Senior practitioners demand and expect high-quality program and instruction.  Senior practitioners also want their workshops and programs offered mid-week, not on Fridays or Mondays.  And in Edmonton, their preferred time is early morning or noon hour sessions.

House believes that those chapters that spend the extra time and make the extra effort to serve senior practitioners will not only benefit from their involvement and engagement, but he believes their satisfaction with chapter services will result in increased recruitment and stronger members.  A win/win all around.

A follow-up to this article, detailing the course offered to AFP Edmonton & Area Chapter senior practitioners, will appear in the September issue of AFP eWire Canada.

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