Thursday, 25 February 2010

Is CILIP Overpriced?

337/365: The Big Money

This is the third of a series of posts to help me to think about CILIP in the year of the Big Conversation.

Yesterday I decided to shun the netbook in favour of some trashy TV (La Femme Nikita on CBS action in case your interested). So I was a bit gutted to check my Google Reader this morning and discover I'd missed a convo on this very topic on Twitter as well as an interesting post from @woodsiegirl which puts the price of CILIP membership in the context of similar organisations and also explores the (very flat in my opinion) pricing structure for CILIP membership - more on that later!. Ah well. You snooze, you loose as they say.

So, my addition to the debate is a quick and dirty survey of other professional bodies. The survey method is poor. Basically I looked on the Directory of UK Professional Bodies for chartered institutes and decided to list the first 5 that made their fees easy to find. The results were:

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators - £280
Chartered Institute of Builders - £228
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - £216
CIPD - £181 (18 months, have hardship register)
Chartered Institute of Waste Management - £162

Average = £213.40

Where possible I took the price for a chartered member. Not always directly comparable but in this context, the £184 for CILIP membership maybe doesn't look so unreasonable?

Cost is a very basic measure though. Far more important, is value. What value do we get from our CILIP membership? Aside from the Professional development, Support for your career, Staying informed, Networking and community and Special deals listed as member benefits on the CILIP website - just what do we get for our subs? (irony intended! "Just what have the Romans ever done for us!") The majority of votes on @philbradley's twtpoll on member fees think that CILIP membership is worth less than the current rate for the majority of members. Even if CILIP membership is good value, this clearly isn't the perception of alot of members.

I think CILIP should address this. In terms of research, what I've done above is laughable BUT I believe that this issue is so important to CILIP's future that it needs to conduct some proper research. Find out how CILIP compares to other professional bodies in terms of cost and value and be open with the results. If this shows that membership is overpriced (in the context of member wages and the benefits that membership offers) - take it on the chin, work out where the inefficiencies are, and bring the cost down. If it compares well to other professional bodies - then SHOUT about it to members - let them know that, actually, they're not getting such a bad deal!

I think another piece of research that would help is putting a £ value on membership. Find out if members actually earn more than non-members. If not, we have some serious questions to ask about our profession. I'm pretty sure that builders who are chartered members of the Chartered Institute of Builders can use that credential to help their bottom line. Can we as individuals trade on our chartered status in the same way? If not, why not?

The last I'd like to say on this goes back to @woodiesgirl's post. The means adjustment for fees is flat, and getting flatter. In actuality those who most need a professional body to protect their interests (see the last post) can no longer afford to be members. Sorry to get political but this is a political issue. I always thought of librarianship as a pretty right-on profession. The ideal of freely sharing information is one of the last bastions of socialism (imho). Flattening the fees in this way is an easy way to balance the books, but is it consistent with our professional values?

Just a thought. That's all for now.

1 comment:

  1. More good points towards #cilipfuture

    The quick and dirty survey is revealing and in line with work carried out at the time of the flat rate being prepared that related cost of CILIP membership to other equivalent type organisations.

    I would say though in terms of the protection thing - CILIP is not a trade union so it does not as such provide protection. It should be pushing on standards and on supporting why having professional staff is good for employers. There are no doubt lots of things CILIP could do (and in some cases are) to enhance the reputation of the profession and help secure peoples future opportunities.