Learn How associations can use digital badges to increase member engagement

Learn How associations can use digital badges to increase member engagement

Increase member engagement through the utilization of digital badges

Digital badges (CertifyMe) offer tangible recognition and foster a sense of accomplishment among members. According to a study by CertifyMe, 82% of professionals believe digital badges represent a valuable form of credentialing in the workplace. This article explores how associations can effectively utilize digital badges to amplify member engagement, citing real-world examples and practical strategies.

Defining Member Engagement:

Member engagement (Wild Apricot) refers to the level of involvement, interaction, and commitment members demonstrate towards an association.

A study by Association Success found that highly engaged members are 2.3 times more likely to recommend their association to others.

Benefits of Active Member Engagement:

  • Increased retention rates: Engaged members are 64% more likely to renew their memberships, as reported by Community Brands.
  • Enhanced advocacy: Engaged members serve as brand ambassadors, promoting the association’s mission and initiatives within their networks.

Digital Badges: What Are They?

Digital badges are online representations of achievements, skills, or competencies earned by individuals.

Open badges, issued through platforms like Mozilla Open Badges, are the most common type, providing metadata detailing the badge’s criteria and issuer.

Advantages of Digital Badges:

  • Credential portability: Digital badges can be easily shared across various digital platforms, showcasing an individual’s accomplishments.
  • Gamification elements: According to a study by Deloitte, 82% of employees are more engaged in gamified activities, making badges an effective engagement tool.

Increasing Member Engagement with Digital Badges

Recognizing and Rewarding Achievements:

Example: The American Marketing Association (AMA) implemented a digital badge system to recognize members’ completion of educational courses and certifications.

Result: AMA reported a 30% increase in course completion rates following the introduction of digital badges.

Fostering a Sense of Accomplishment:

Example: The Project Management Institute (PMI) incorporated digital badges into its certification programs, allowing members to showcase their project management expertise.

Result: PMI observed a 20% rise in certification renewals among badge earners compared to non-badge holders.

Facilitating Networking and Community Building:

Example: The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) introduced digital badges to its annual conference attendees, encouraging networking based on shared interests and achievements.

Result: IABC reported a 25% increase in post-conference engagement among badge recipients.

Implementing a Digital Badge System

Choosing the Right Platform:

Considerations: Association size, budget, technical requirements, and integration capabilities.

Example: The American Library Association (ALA) partnered with Badgr to implement a digital badge system tailored to its members’ needs.

Designing Badge Criteria and Pathways:

Alignment with Association Goals: Badges should reflect the association’s mission and strategic objectives.

Example: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) developed digital badges aligned with its competency framework, empowering members to showcase their HR expertise.

Promoting Badge Adoption:

Communication Strategies: Utilize email newsletters, social media campaigns, and webinars to introduce badges and emphasize their value.

Example: The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) saw a 40% increase in badge adoption following targeted promotional efforts.

Successful Implementation Examples

Example 1: American Marketing Association (AMA)

  • Goals: Recognize member achievements in education and certification.
  • Strategy: Implemented digital badges for completed courses and certifications.
  • Outcome: Achieved a 30% increase in course completion rates.

Example 2: Project Management Institute (PMI)

  • Goals: Enhance certification program engagement and renewals.
  • Strategy: Integrated digital badges into certification achievements.
  • Outcome: Observed a 20% rise in certification renewals among badge holders.

Challenges and Considerations

Privacy and Data Security: Ensure compliance with data protection regulations and secure badge issuance platforms.

Example: The Association for Talent Development (ATD) implemented strict data privacy measures to safeguard member information.

Evaluation and Iteration:

Collecting Feedback: Solicit member input to identify areas for improvement and refine badge criteria.

Example: The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conducted surveys to gather feedback on its digital badge program, leading to enhancements based on member suggestions.


Digital badges represent a transformative tool for associations seeking to elevate member engagement in the digital age. By recognizing achievements, fostering a sense of accomplishment, and facilitating community building, badges serve as catalysts for deeper member involvement and loyalty. As associations navigate the implementation process, addressing challenges and leveraging success stories will be instrumental in maximizing the impact of digital badges on member engagement and organizational success.