Code of ethics: Why are they important? 

Tirrah Switzer Tirrah Switzer, Product Marketing Manager, Community Brands

Your members turn to your association for many reasons. From professional development, and certification to industry information and networking – the list goes on. But what makes them renew year after year? Last year, when Community Brands released its Member Engagement and Loyalty Study, Code of Ethics ranked as one of the top benefits that drive member retention 

I’ve read, re-read and presented on these results dozens of times, and the results still surprise me. Out of all other valuable benefits, Code of Ethics, drives retention.  Learn how YourMembership AMS can help you establish and publish content focusing on your code of ethics. 

Why didn’t these members care about the hard work you are putting into networking, online education and job opportunities? The truth of the matter is they do care about networking, online education and job opportunities. But what drives them to renew is a set of standards for their profession, especially, when it directly aligns with the core mission of your professional association.  

MELS Report Chart

Now, here’s the crazy part. Community Brands studies have found Code of Ethics as the first or second most important renewal driver since 2016.  

Why does a Code of Ethics matter so much to members, who ranked it their highest benefit? Here is what they had to say:  

  • It provides a common set of rules or standards for all in the profession to adhere to 
  • It defines best practices for the profession 
  • It provides a basis to meet compliance requirements for the profession  
  • It provides a legal standard for the profession  
  • It provides a “seal of approval” that those outside the profession can look for when using/selecting our services  
  • It helps as a watchdog for the profession 

When is the last time you looked at your organization’s Code of Ethics? If you are like most professional associations, it was written when your bylaws were drafted. 

An out-of-date Code of Ethics can be a dangerous retention problem. It’s now time to dust off your Code of Ethics! Discover how YourMembership can help you communicate your ethics to your members through an online community. 

Your Code of Ethics describes what brings your members together as a profession and is the foundation of their shared expectations of each other. Members are proud to belong to an association which provides a framework and standard for their industry. Keep your Code of Ethics updated and relevant. This is a must-have for retaining members. 

Include updating your Code of Ethics in your annual planning process, but don’t rush it with a “just get it done” approach. Updating your Code of Ethics requires a coherent strategy and involvement from your members. Your Code of Ethics committee or task force should include experts on codes of ethics, current ethical issues of your profession, public policy, and law to name a few.  

Another avenue to dust off your Code of Ethics is to review your communication regarding your Code of Ethics. Take a walk in your prospect and members shoes by verifying that your Code of Ethics is easy to find on your website. Also, take a moment to review your new member welcome email and renewal emails for Code of Ethics value statements.  

And, if you haven’t already, give members an avenue to file for violations of your organization’s Code of Ethics. Published violation procedures reinforce the validity of your code.  Learn how YourMembership can help your association establish and communicate clear code of ethics. 

Ready to learn more about what benefits your organizations can offer to retain members? Download the Member Engagement and Loyalty Study.  

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