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Association News

According to a new report from The UK Cards Association, the number of purchases using debit and credit cards has more than doubled in the past 10 years, as contactless payments and online retail have driven a change in the way consumers pay.


Debit and credit cards were used to make 16.4 billion purchases in 2016, up 146 per cent from 6.7 billion in 2006. It means that 518 card payments were made every second last year by cardholders both in the UK and travelling overseas.


Over the past decade the growth in the number of card transactions has outstripped the rise in the amount spent, showing consumers’ increasing preference for using cards instead of cash for lower value payments. Last year the average value of a card transaction fell to £43.47, its lowest level in 15 years.


The new report, UK Card Payments 2017, highlights the impact of the growth in online spending and contactless payments. By the end of 2016, four in 10 (39 per cent) card transactions were either online or made using a contactless card, compared to a quarter (24 per cent) the previous year.


Graham Peacop, Chief Executive of The UK Cards Association, said:


“Card payments play a central role in our economy, with spending equivalent to a third of the UK’s GDP. As consumers continue to make the switch from cash to contactless and with the rise of the app-economy, we forecast that the number of card payments will grow substantially over the next decade too.”


With card payments providing significant benefits to businesses, the number of retailers accepting cards increased to just over 1 million last year. The number of individual outlets accepting cards has jumped by 63 per cent in the last 10 years to 1.3 million in 2016.


A total of £709 billion was spent by UK debit and credit card holders both domestically and overseas last year. Debit cards represented 75% of this total, amounting to £530 billion. This month is the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the debit card to the UK.


Payment cards were used for three-quarters (77 per cent) of all retail spending in the UK last year. Cardholders spent the most on food and drink (£114 billion), followed by other services (£100 billion), financial services (£80 billion) and entertainment (£57 billion). A third of all card purchases in 2016 were made at supermarkets, while every fifth payment was on entertainment.


In 2016, there have been significant developments in the delivery of digital services to consumers, such as in-app purchasing and a new trend of fusing social media formats with payment capabilities.


In the next decade, the increasing use of contactless and mobile payments, particularly by younger people, will be a major source of growth for debit card payments, the report says.


The volume of debit card purchases is forecast to grow by 57 per cent to 18.2 billion in 2026, four times the number made in 2006. In a decade’s time, half of all debit card transactions (51 per cent) will be contactless. Credit card transactions are expected to increase to 3.7 billion by 2026.


Association News

Organised by the charity First Story, education companies are coming together to celebrate creative writing across the UK, via many events, games and competitions…


Angela Byrne, UK Sales Manager, Prim-Ed Publishing Ltd:


“A celebration of writing! What more powerful way to promote a love of writing, and inspire the next generation of writers!

“As a platform for generating a community of young writers, a dedicated National Writing Day creates an impetus for children to write imaginatively for audiences within the classroom and beyond, and to develop and sustain this motivation. Through local, regional and national events, children are given the opportunity to work with writers, engage in workshops and be inspired by accompanying resources. These powerful energisers offer children the opportunity to find their own voice, to share the stories they write, to develop original ideas and explore possibilities through discussion, to use the power of their imagination and critically, instil a lifelong love of writing.”


She added: “As a publisher of teacher and pupil resources, it has been our privilege to contribute to children’s literacy learning across the UK and beyond. Prim-Ed Publishing resources are designed to inspire imaginative thought, and influence the quality of children’s writing. A love of writing is the single most powerful gift that a teacher can offer to pupils.”


Tonya Meers, Chief Storyteller, Little Creative Days Ltd:


“Writing can be used to convey information or as a means of relaxation. The pleasure you get from getting lost in a good book should not be underestimated. We would all be a lot poorer as a nation if we didn’t have those great authors and their stories. Whether it’s a classic, romance or psychological thriller the ability of those authors to tell a good story helps to enrich our lives.”

She added: “Being able to help inspire children to want to read and write, especially those reluctant readers and writers, is so rewarding and such a privilege.

“We always get a wonderful warm glow when we see children loving getting involved in our stories and seeing their excitement when we walk into a classroom with Pojo.”


Amanda Duncan, Founder, Scribeasy:


“Writing as a practice is vital for creative and holistic wellbeing. Words and how we use them affect almost every aspect of life.  

“Being able to articulate thoughts and seeing them on the page – to read them, to hear them – helps. The mind can use words to imagine, re-imagine, frame and re-frame; make connections. Being articulate and having an awareness of the impact of word choices are skills for life, which enable long-term opportunities and possibilities.”


Jon Smith, CEO and co-founder, Pobble:


“Writing is a critical skill for everyone – it helps us to communicate, to define and refine our own thoughts, and to express ourselves to the outside world.

“By celebrating writing in early years, we ensure that children understand the importance of developing their own personal communication skill set. We help to stimulate their creativity and self-esteem, and ultimately contribute to improving their ability to function as productive members of our society.”


Association News

The Creative Industries Federation – the national organisation for the creative industries, cultural education and the arts –  issued its General Election Statement on the 9th June.


John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “Today’s result raises concerns about the political stability of the UK in the short term. One thing is beyond doubt, however: Theresa May has seen that there is no clear mandate for the government to negotiate a hard Brexit.


“Federation members were 96 per cent in favour of remaining in the EU when surveyed before the referendum. They saw Brexit is a threat to the continued success of the creative industries, damaging growth and the UK’s global outlook. This general election vote now offers the opportunity to look at the issue again.


“The Federation will push for the UK to remain in the single market and the customs union and against undue restrictions on free movement, which we know will damage the capacity of the creative industries to deliver. Non-UK EU nationals are an important part of the creative economy.


“As we noted in our statement yesterday morning, as voters went to the polls, the Federation will work tirelessly to hold the new government, whatever shape it takes, to account.


“We will continue to advocate policies that maintain the UK creative industries’ competitive advantage and keep the nation outward-looking and international. It remains vital we secure the best possible deal for the sector during what will be a turbulent period of political and constitutional change.”


In subsequent remarks, a spokesman went on to criticise the ‘downgrading’ of the importance of the arts and the creative industries. Arts and culture have been separated from the creative industries in a restructure of ministerial responsibilities at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).  With former Culture and Digital Minister Matt Hancock’s remit slimmed to Digital, encompassing the creative industries, broadcasting and media, while arts and culture will now fall alongside heritage and tourism under the remit of Salisbury MP and first-time Minister John Glen. He will also take responsibility for public libraries, museums and the National Archives.


A CIF spokesperson is reported as saying: “The new ministerial titles and job descriptions at DCMS appear to downgrade the importance of the arts and creative industries and send a wrong signal about their importance.


“The creative industries are the fastest growing sector of the economy. The sector is generating jobs at three times the rate of employment in general.”


The spokesperson continued: “In terms of Britain’s global renown in the creative sector, there is no distinction between the publicly supported arts and commercial business.


“Policy-making should recognise that. Billions of pounds of revenues and our international success is built on both.”


It remains unclear what the changes will mean for the arts and culture in wider government policy, such as the upcoming industrial strategy, which cabinet ministers promised to put creative industries “at the heart” of.

Association News

Breakfast event for non-profit organisations


Your members and supporters expect communications to be personal, relevant and engaging. The key to personalisation, relevance and engagement is data. And the key to having good data is integration – integration of your CRM and campaign email system.

For too many membership bodies and charities today, campaign email is a one-way street – the campaign emails are sent, but what the recipients do with them is a mystery to most users.

The benefits of modern, integrated engagement are clear:

  • Improved relevance to members and supporters, increasing retention and revenue
  • Improved understanding of member and supporter needs, leading to targeted services, cross-sell and up-sell
  • Streamlined content and communications, saving time and money
  • Improved business insight, resulting in timely decision-making and strategic management

The challenge is that many membership bodies and charities are working with systems that are not ‘joined up’ and which create barriers to staying competitive.

As independent consultants, many organisations are asking Hart Square…

  • What does integrated engagement look like? What should I be aiming for?
  • Do I upgrade my current systems, or replace them?
  • What about integrating my CRM and campaign email systems?
  • What is the rest of the sector doing?

This workshop will examine the questions above, and allow you to hear from other non-profit organisations who are addressing the challenge.

Hart Square will facilitate the discussion and help derive some answers for you.

Click here to register for free and read more about this event


Association News

Increasing member acquisition is an ongoing challenge for NFPs, membership organisations and associations. It was the number two goal for respondents to the MemberWise Digital Excellence Summary Report 2017, the number two goal in 2016 and the top goal in both 2014 and 2015.


Why is it a challenge? Because whilst there is a plethora of ways to approach member acquisition, who knows what really works and how do you measure it? Even if you can figure out what works, what do you do when it stops working?


However, I would like to share my thoughts on what for me, are the key elements of a successful member acquisition strategy:


  1. Make sure that your target audience (i.e. your potential members) know your organisation exists.
  2. Ensure that you provide the services and products that ‘matter’ to your potential members to demonstrate that your organisation is ‘relevant’ to them


Making sure that potential members know you exist may sound a little like ‘teaching your Grandmother to suck eggs’ but it’s surprising how few NFPs, membership organisations and associations have an effective brand awareness strategy.


ProTech recently worked with a professional body looking to implement a new CRM solution and as part of our initial approach to identify potential members and what mattered to them, we uncovered some alarming findings.


We liaised with a selected number of people working within the profession our client represented and the findings were disquieting because:


  • 60% were not aware that our client existed.
  • 46% belonged to a competitive membership organisation.


It was apparent that awareness of our client was an issue.


We asked the selected professionals what they would value i.e. what mattered to them, what products and services they really wanted, from a membership organisation that supported their profession. Their responses were straightforward and included:


  • Networking opportunities.
  • High quality training – both specific and complimentary.
  • Accreditation pathways.
  • Community based peer support.
  • Continuous professional development (CPD).


These responses were worrying as the ‘services/products described were not part of our client’s overall business strategy. Its focus was on developing a broader range of qualifications with little understanding of its potential (and existing) members’ needs, particularly regarding options around CPD.


The relevance of our client to its prospective and potentially existing members was also an issue.


So what could our client do to ensure potential members knew it existed? It put a strategy in place to engage with new members and ensured that its website was aligned with its internet marketing strategy to easily facilitate member engagement. 


The key to reaching prospective members is good inbound marketing that uses digital marketing tools like content, search, social and email marketing. It must be based on publishing quality content that attracts visitors to a website – the content must encourage sharing.


The importance of successful SEO.

ProTech’s digital platform ProWeb, with its Umbraco Content Management System (CMS), played a key role in helping our client raise awareness of its existence and to expand its reach to potential members as Umbraco utilises a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) checker. This enables verification that content created as part of an inbound marketing campaign would indeed enhance the prospects of it appearing towards the top of an internet search.


Additionally, ProTech has expertise in creating page types allied to different styles of content which enables visitors to land on our clients’ websites as a result of keyword searches elsewhere.


Umbraco allows our clients to embed different content types within a web page to ensure that content, such as video, is as engaging as possible encouraging visitors to remain on the page for the maximum amount of time.


Data is the key to delivering relevant content.


ProWeb also helps our clients ensure that they are relevant to both prospective and existing members. 


By fully integrating with ProTech’s specialist CRM software, ProWeb enables the all-important capture of data provided by visitors to our clients’ websites. ProTech enables the segmentation of the data so that potential and existing members with similar profiles and similar preferences can be sent content that is relevant to them.


This ability to harness the data captured enables our clients to target potential (and existing) members with events, products or services that are relevant to their specific job, the qualification they need to attain, the event they should attend, the professional paper they should read, etc.


So, to drive member acquisition make sure you choose a CRM solution that allows you to raise awareness of your NFP, membership organisation or association and then enables you to harness the data you capture about potential and existing members to ensure that your products and services are relevant to them. 


ProTech can help do both.

by Jenny Parsons, COO, ProTech


Association News

New Chief Executive Officer for Music Mark


Applications have just closed for the post of CEO of Music Mark, the UK Association for Music Education, based in London.


Music Mark is a membership organisation, subject association and strategic lead organisation for music education. It aims to enable its members, and the wider music education sector, to deliver high-quality musical and social outcomes for all children and young people. For the new CEO this is an excellent opportunity to lead The UK Association for Music Education through the next phase of its development. Adaptability, creativity, strategic thinking, and business aptitude are all pre-requisites. As well as a passion for education and the arts. Outstanding leadership goes without saying, and the new post holder will also be engaged in developing and maintaining relationships with all who hold a stake in the strategic planning and operational delivery of music education as part of a broad and balanced education.


General Secretary Designate for NAHT


The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has announced that Paul Whiteman has been elected unopposed and is confirmed as General Secretary Designate until he takes over as General Secretary from 1st September. The recruitment process has been exhaustive and Paul was unanimously endorsed by both the recruitment panel and National Executive. He replaces Russell Hobby who was in post for the past seven years.


Whiteman has been NAHT’s Director of Representation & Advice for the past five years and is keen to build on the excellent service we provide for members, and maintain the strong, professional community of leaders that is the cornerstone of NAHT’s reputation. NAHT will continue to be recognised as the clearest voice in the education debate in the UK and under his leadership the association will continue to use the respect it has with parents/carers, policy makers and partner organisations to effect real change for leaders and learners everywhere. Hobby and Whiteman will work together in the coming months to ensure a stable transition.


New Director of the Royal Institution (Ri)


The Trustees of the Royal Institution – which has been at the forefront of public engagement with science since 1799 – have appointed Professor Sarah Harper to lead the organisation as its Director. Professor Harper is Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford and founder of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, having previously held senior academic positions at universities across USA and Asia. She has worked extensively with the Government Office for Science, serving on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and contributing to UK government and European-wide strategies on issues such as ageing, population change and education.


Full announcement:


New Chair: Chair Alan Turing Institute Data Ethics Group


The Alan Turing Institute has announced the membership of the Alan Turing Institute’s Data Ethics Group. It will be chaired by Luciano Floridi, the OII’s Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information.


Made up of academics specialising in ethics, social science, law, policy-making, and big data and algorithms, the group will be responsible for driving the Institute’s research agenda in data ethics, and working across the organisation to provide advice and guidance on ethical best practise in data science. The group will work in collaboration with the broader data science community, will support public dialogue on relevant topics, and there will be open calls for participation in workshops later this year, as well as public events.


Luciano Floridi is a Fellow of St Cross College; Distinguished Research Fellow of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics; Research Associate and Fellow in Information Policy at the Department of Computer Science; and Member of the Faculty of Philosophy. Outside Oxford, he is Adjunct Professor (“Distinguished Scholar in Residence”) of the Department of Economics, American University, Washington D.C.; Faculty Fellow and Chair of the new Data Ethics Research Group of The Alan Turing Institute.


Commenting on his appointment Luciano Floridi, said “We are all aware that digital data innovation is transforming our society very rapidly and profoundly. The opportunities as well as the challenges require more thinking, more collaboration, and more foresight about the ethical questions we are facing. I hope the newly established Data Ethics Group will play a significant role in such an exciting context, and I am honoured and delighted to coordinate it.”


Members of the group include  Dr Jonathan Cave, Senior Fellow in Economics, University of Warwick; Dr Jennifer S. Davis, Faculty of Law and Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, University of Cambridge; Dr Phyllis Illari, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL; Charles Raab, Professorial Fellow in Politics and International Relations, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh; and Prof Burkhard Schafer, Professor of Computational Legal Theory, Law School, University of Edinburgh.


Association News

Looking for non-police officers to plug the nationwide detective gap is not the answer – that’s the message from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) following an announcement today that Londoners will now have the opportunity to join the Metropolitan Police Service directly as a detective constable, working in investigative policing immediately after initial training.


Karen Stephens, detectives’ lead for PFEW said: “We are aware of the massive workload and stress our detectives are under, with detective numbers dwindling faster than any other group of police officers.  So it is with a certain amount of understanding that we acknowledge the Met’s attempt to stem the haemorrhage of detectives in their own force.


“But, as with other direct recruitment schemes, we believe that individuals first need a grounding on what it takes to be an officer in the 21st century. Direct recruitment or ‘direct entry’ is not a magic bullet for the current detective shortage which has reached crisis proportions, as recognised by HMIC earlier this year.


“Detectives need first-hand experience of responding in an operational capacity to incidents they would not encounter in any other walk of life – the bedrock of British policing is the Office of Constable.


“In relation to this specific role the question must be asked, what has changed to create the gap? Why is a role that people once queued up to do not a desirable one anymore? There are many contributing factors including workload, the changing types of crime, the fact that the role is not family-friendly and more.”


Mrs Stephens said forces should be looking to existing officers before searching for answers outside the world of policing and also queried the Met’s insistence that candidates had degrees: “One certainty is that there are very talented officers already in the service whose skills and experience could make them fantastic detectives. It is this talent that we must harness and encourage into the role first and foremost.”


She added: “We do, and always have, supported accrediting qualifications to those officers already in policing to recognise their existing skills.  However, it is essential that we do not create a police service where the only chance of becoming a police officer is if you can afford to educate yourself to degree level before joining.  Other organisations are moving away from insisting on degree qualifications so why are we moving towards it?


“There is a danger of marginalising and excluding good quality candidates from all communities, effectively limiting the pool of candidates available. The biggest risk is we end up with a service that doesn’t represent the community it serves because of unnecessary restrictions like this.”


Source: The Police Federation


Hang on a minute! What is all this stuff about ‘engagement’? Everywhere I look these days membership organisations are talking about engagement as though it was the be all and end all of their existence. But why? And what do they mean by the term? Look up ‘engage’ in any shorter dictionary and – apart from a ‘promise to marry’ – to engage somebody means to attract or hold their attention of sympathy, or to cause them to participate. But that isn’t what the tech wizards appear to mean when they come knocking at your door with a ‘solution’ to your dwindling membership. What they have in mind seems much more superficial. Just clicking in some cases!


Now, if I click an online petition, that no more makes me an activist, than liking a post or a tweet makes me engaged with the author or their organisation. The truth is, there is no definition! We may have been bandying the word around since the mid-2000s, but in reality you can make engagement mean anything you like. It could be defined as consumers’ behaviour online, or the strategies brands use to attract attention, or the things you can count. Context is everything!


If you’re a writer looking for blog readers, or you’re an ecommerce site looking for shares, it will alter the type of engagement you’re looking for. If you want people to purchase, then it’s all about the first meeting and activity leading up to the sale. But if you’re a blogger, then engagement may be a comment or a share by an influencer.


When it comes to associations, I contend that engagement is the result of a member investing time and money with them in exchange for value. That value may me financial, practical, emotional, or a sense of belonging. The more resources they invest, the more engaged they are. And that happy state can’t be brought about by clicks alone!


Engagement is also about value. The value for the person doing the engaging as well as the value of that engagement for the association. It’s not the ‘output’ of a programme, but the strategies and actions that go into establishing relationships. It’s a discipline not a goal.


So, I reckon that any system that offers to analyse your engagement by counting clicks is leading you into a fool’s paradise. Vacuous statistics are just vanity metrics. Handy for keeping critics off your back, but essentially worthless when it comes to predicting outcomes or measuring success!


The twin goals of most associations are member acquisition and retention. When it comes to acquisition, the numbers that view your website, blog, or twitter account; share content from your publications; or even read your press coverage, are superficial. They’re not a signal that you have held attention or triggered participation. And transactional interactions, like buying a product, or paying for a course, are unreliable as an indicator of likely member retention. Attention gained through financial incentive tends to be transient!


It’s only when you put issues of empathy into the mix that you can really start to measure engagement; when participants align with your ethos, and the significance of the relationship outweighs the financial cost of membership! Indicators of that state of mind are a willingness to write or speak on your behalf; volunteer for a committee or task force; serve in a leadership role; achieve status; invest in sponsorship or similar. Of course, not every member can achieve this, but at least they should have the feeling that they could!


Healthy associations create more engagement opportunities in areas that create value for both organisation and member. Strategically, it’s also worthwhile for associations to plot the members likely progress from pre to post engagement, and consider what the first steps on the commitment escalator might be. As an efficient flow from low to high value engagement will tend to be healthier from both revenue and mission fulfilment perspectives.

Michael Hoare

©2017 M J Hoare


Association News

Households are being hit with letting fees up to £800 when renting a home, with the average at just over £400, according to ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential Letting Agents). The issue of letting agency fees has been highlighted by campaign group Generation Rent shortly before the close of a consultation on government proposals to ban letting fees for tenants.


Capital Economics was commissioned by ARLA to produce a report looking into the impact of the proposed letting agent fees ban on landlords, letting agents, households, the buy-to-let sector and the wider economy.  There are a number of estimates of the average fees charged by letting agents to tenants. However, which looks at fees quoted by 902 letting agents across the United Kingdom – and is the one based on the widest sample across the market – finds that for a simple contract for two tenants, average fees total £412.  Capital Economics calculate that the total revenue from fees charged to tenants is around £0.7 billion for letting agents in England and Wales annually. Based on those estimates for turnover in the residential lettings sector, this means that around a fifth of turnover is at risk if a ban on all letting agent fees is drawn into law.


Other key findings are: • Total turnover in the residential lettings sector in England and Wales is around £4 billion and it employs around 58,000 workers • Residential lettings activity is localised with at least 2,000 jobs supported in each region • The introduction of a ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants would be the third hit to buy-to-let activity in recent years, which exacerbates downside risks to the private rented sector, wider property market and economy as a whole • Fees charged for letting activities reflect real work to be undertaken and therefore, if the ban on fees goes ahead, the costs will need to be recovered • On a comparable basis, fees for letting a property are lower than buying a house in the United Kingdom, while they are also lower than in some other major economies • Landlords are likely to pass on higher agents’ fees to tenants in the form of higher rent. In the most plausible outcome, letting agents lose £0.2 billion in turnover, landlords lose £0.3 billion in income and tenants pay an increased rent of £103 per annum • The impact on letting agents is likely to result in a loss of jobs to the tune of 4,000 workers • Although renters will benefit from a reduction in up-front fees, most of this will be passed back to them through increased rents; those tenants who move more frequently will enjoy a saving on overall costs but those who do so less frequently (which are likely to be lower income families) will see a loss.


Letting the Market Down? Full report:


Association News

Platform still dominates, but specialist systems are fighting back


A narrative has emerged, which sees specific and genuine investment and a revitalisation in the specialist NFP CRM market. This is happening alongside recognition of some of the real challenges faced by non-profits seeking to implement platform solutions. Those challenges include a better understanding of the scale of investment required to enable projects to succeed, which may comprise significant financial sums, time and knowledge input.

Of course, it’s probably beyond coincidence that these two are happening at the same time. The specialist NFP CRM providers will undoubtedly have understood this challenge before most of the sector. Maybe that’s what’s inspired their revitalisation…

Approaches to the platform challenge have varied so much in terms of how these specialist solutions have responded and adapted. Therefore, we will be addressing several individual CRM specialists’ approaches, for example thankQ, Oomi, Millertech and Protech. Additionally, in the series, we’ll be reviewing why specialist NFP CRM systems remain a viable and strong alternative to platform solutions and consider how ASI are seeking to address this challenge by evolving their IMIS CRM into an ‘Engagement Management System’.


Read the full article and access the Specialist CRM series so far here