Make Continuing Education a Win-Win for Your Organization
Each year, thousands of professionals, such as certified financial planners, life insurance agents, attorneys and wealth management planners, need continuing education (CE) credits as a requirement for their professions. CE is a type of education that is provided for adults after they leave the formal education system, consisting typically of short or part-time courses, according to the Oxford Dictionary.
It is a must for individuals to stay on top of their games and have the latest knowledge available for their clients. It is also important that professionals stay in contact with their professional peers. An exchange of information is critical both in quality and quantity to professional growth and development.
While the need for CE is apparent, the ways to receive it vary by state. There are certainly a variety of options, ranging from traveling hundreds of miles to staying in your home office. Many people spend a great deal of time researching new ways to obtain CE credits. A wise nonprofit can take advantage of the need for professional CE credits by hosting an event for them. A good example of how this can be done is the Annual Estate & Charitable Gift Planning Institute, an annual webinar sponsored by The Salvation Army.
Established 23 years ago as a way of giving professionals CE credits, the webinar is one day in length, lasting from 10:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and is sponsored nationally by The Salvation Army. It features at least two nationally known speakers who are experts in relevant estate and law topics. A recent Annual Estate & Charitable Gift Planning Institute was held in the Minneapolis Convention Center and broadcast to 38 states and 200 cities.
More than 5,000 participants watched the webinar featuring Ann B. Burns, J.D., Gray Plant Mooty, and Samuel A. Donaldson, J.D., professor of law at Georgia State University. These speakers were tremendously entertaining. Donaldson, in particular, could change careers to the field of comedy, as he blended humor and stories in his presentation that kept your attention.
This particular webinar concept was created by David Oversteak, planned giving director for the Minneapolis-based northern division of The Salvation Army. Examples of hourly CE credits obtained from this daylong webinar included insurance (5), certified financial planner (5), certified public accountant (6), certified trust and financial advisor (5.75), and continuing legal education (5). In Indianapolis alone, more than 200 professionals attended the daylong session at one site.
In Indiana, more than 440 professionals attended the same webinar at 11 different sites. Participants received a comprehensive ring binder filled with timely CE information, plus information about The Salvation Army, to take home with them. The follow-up survey results showed that both young and old professionals enjoyed the webinar concept to a great degree.
What about The Salvation Army? This outstanding organization received excellent public relations opportunities with these professionals throughout the daylong webinar. At the beginning, middle and end of the presentation day, The Salvation Army officers, board members, staff and volunteers spoke to the professional audience, many of whom had a number of potential clients who support nonprofit causes. Since this program has grown through the years, a large number of professionals enjoy coming back to this annual event and learning more about The Salvation Army. This activity is a win-win for both parties involved in the day. As a result of this webinar, The Salvation Army, for example, received cash gifts of $15,000 from participants and a $150,000-estate gift from a participant’s client.
It is all about building relationships and friendships while making a CE process fun and memorable. Professionals need CE credits. Why not host an annual activity for those professionals? You would have a captive audience to tell your story to during the day. The nonprofit host also provides snacks, drinks, lunches and treats for the attendees. While you may start with a small group in year one, if you do this correctly, your group will grow quickly over time. Your goal is to have these professionals begin to look forward to coming to your annual event for their CE credits. You should think about providing some type of CE program whether or not it is a webinar. You want a variety of professionals eventually supporting your organization, don’t you?
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.