Understanding What Members Value

by Kimberly Scott | Nov 08, 2017

Membership organizations all over the nation are facing challenges, everything from attracting and retaining members to providing valuable member benefits to diverse groups of members. I see a lot of relevance to an association like ours, one that represents a profession that is relied upon by the public and business decision makers.

There is value in working together on key issues such as advocacy, peer review, student initiatives, and maintaining the image to the public. However, competition is fierce too. Continuing education is necessary for this profession, but the delivery methods, costs, quality and competition are vast. The same goes for opportunities to network, find mentors, clients, and advice. I could argue that all professionals need this benefit, but the variety of available opportunities challenges membership organizations to constantly improve their offerings.

Just like any other business, the WSCPA needs to listen to members and adapt to address your changing needs and the marketplace. The WSCPA leadership has been seeking feedback from members in multiple ways to help understand the current and future needs of members, and those in the profession.  This information is crucial when planning what the organization should be in five or ten years.

The Washington CPA Foundation is also trying to understand the future needs of the profession and in August, working with the WSCPA leadership, sent a survey to the membership. This survey had questions focused on the Foundation’s future, but also had key questions to provide insight to the WSCPA. With a 16% response rate, the survey shed light on what you value.

What should be the primary concerns of the WSCPA?

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Source: WSCPA and Washington CPA Foundation Survey, 2017

In September, a group of 50 members (along with some non-members), came together for a full day to provide their personal opinions and feedback to the WSCPA. This group, hand selected to represent a cross-section of the Society’s membership, included ethnically diverse representatives from every area of the state, gender, varied types of businesses, and engagement level with the WSCPA. Career stage is the only area that was skewed in representation; the group mainly consisted of younger to mid-career professionals.

In the feedback I’ve heard so far, it is clear to me that technology and personalization are essential factors for the WSCPA to address. As a society we are used to having everything at our fingertips, and we expect every experience to be simple and immediate. This is not a surprise, but is continually a challenge as technology continues to advance at such rapid rates.

To help make your membership experience more personalized, the WSCPA just rolled out a new e-newsletter. If you have taken the time to update your preferences, you should be receiving a newsletter with articles and opportunities directly related to your interests. If you have not yet updated (or have not updated in a few years), I encourage you to do so by clicking “Update Your Preferences” at the bottom of any WSCPA email. Instead of getting just one more newsletter you have to sift through to find something of value, you have some control over what you will see.

Hopefully, you have seen the opportunity to take free CPE with our new Lunchtime Learning webinars. This is something new we are trying as a way to provide bite-sized, conveniently-timed learning for members in all areas of the state.  We understand members in small firms and businesses often cannot travel, and some members pay for CPE out of their own pockets. To learn more about this new series, I invite you to visit learning.

These are small changes, as we try to better understand how to leverage the resources we have to provide the best experiences and great membership value.

We’re up to the challenge of transforming the WSCPA into the best organization possible and are grateful to have so much candid input, even as we’re in the beginning of the strategic planning process. Stay tuned for further updates!  

Kimberly Scott headshotKimberly Scott, CAE, is President & CEO of the Washington Society of CPAs, and Executive Director of the Washington CPA Foundation. You can contact her at

This article appeared in the fall 2017 issue of the WashingtonCPA Magazine. Read more here.

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