I recently attended an awards luncheon on behalf of one of our association management client for whom I serve as Association Manager. This association supports an annual award that recognizes students graduating from a technical program, and provides them with funds to purchase tools within their selected trade. The students are selected based on high academic achievement and demonstrated trade, teamwork and leadership skills.
What struck me as I was sitting there listening to the award categories and individual awards that were given out was the number of businesses and associations that provide funds to support education and the graduates. Over $82,000 was provided in awards and bursaries during the lunch that day. That is a significant dollar amount.
Why is it valuable to do this as an association?
Of the association management clients I am involved with, four of them support higher education and provide funding for awards to students. How come? Is it just good corporate citizenship, or is it to feed egos and contribute to PR?? Realistically, associations support students for a variety of reasons, some altruistic and some selfish. Regardless of the intention, there is always value to contributing to education as an association.
Below are some benefits associations can gain from handing out awards, bursaries and scholarships to students.
Encourage giving back to the community
We are the association management company (AMC) for a business leads based association and they provide scholarships for two students throughout the year. One is for a student from a family who lives in a home supplied by Habitat for Humanity. The scholarship for Habitat for Humanity families is very much about being a good corporate citizen.
Marketing the industry to prospective employees, customers and stakeholders
The members of two associations we work with are in constant need of employees for their businesses, now and in the future. They invest in the future of the industry by providing scholarships and awards to students. Attracting talent to their industries is important as there are many employment and career choices for students to consider, and by providing an award they create an incentive for students to consider their industry. Creating an early dialogue with students gives association members the opportunity to attract and retain talented, skilled employees which is very important in a world where specialization is becoming increasingly important.
Supporting skill development, excellence and achievement
Another group we work with provides funding to students to attend their annual scientific conference. Students attending this meeting benefit from networking with current members, expose them to the value the association brings to the field and foster a commitment to excellence in the field they represent.
No matter what your reasons for supporting higher learning, there is value to the association to allocate resources to this area. Skill development, pursuit of excellence and celebrating achievement will benefit the association by highlighting the value of the industry. If you are not currently supporting higher learning you might want to consider ways to do so in the future.