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The End Of The Social Care Association - What Went Wrong?

Here at Straight Up Marketing, we were surprised to hear last week about the closure of the Social Care Association, after 60 years of providing expert support and training for people in the social care arena. We are saddened that an organisation that has been around for over half a century and that has 1000 members and a committed team of staff was not able to continue as a going concern. Whilst we’ve never worked with the Social Care Association, given that we work with both social care and membership organisations we have some insight into the types of issues they would have been facing. Social-Care-Association-Logo-(1).png

Some of their challenges are likely to have been:

-          Reductions in local authority funding: Nick Johnson, chief executive of the SCA, has outlined that their main source of revenue was providing services to local authorities, such as care audits and consultancy work. As government budgets have reduced, almost all service providers have seen fees from their local councils go down. In the case of the SCA, their service was seen, rightly or wrongly, as expendable. Without being able to diversify their revenue streams, they have fallen victim to one of the most fundamental changes that is taking place in for social care bodies; the reduced purchasing power of local government for their services.

-          Low membership retention: The SCA had to close its doors despite the fact that it had 1000 members working in social care, but that only tells one half of the story. When you take into consideration that, at its peak, the SCA had over 5000 members, this means that they have seen an 80% drop in membership over the years. What caused so many people to abandon an organisation whose mission was to support them in their work? Were the benefits that came with membership not worth the price, or were they not promoted effectively? Did the benefits of membership make sense years ago, but had not evolved to reflect a changing market? Clearly, the package that the SCA offered their membership was not compelling them to renew their subscription. It also sounds like that they may have had issues with data management. If this was the case it would have made it difficult to send targeted messages to different members and perhaps they didn’t have a robust process for renewing membership? This would have contributed to an increase in member drop-off, and therefore a reduction in funds.

-          A changing workforce in social care: Nick Johnson points to the challenge of attracting new members in a ‘fragmented’ care sector of almost 50,000 employers in contrast to what was once a ‘largely public service’ involving around 150 bodies that would commission care. This is another of the fundamental changes that is affecting everyone working in care; not only is government able to spend less, but the money that is available elsewhere is spread across a wider area. Reaching these potential revenue streams requires a high quality and competitively priced service, as well as the ability to effectively market it to an increasing number of people. There are services to provide and customers to find in this new ‘fragmented’ sector, but you need to have the tools to reach them. It is likely that the SCA was not successful in adapting its operations to reflect this new reality; they may have provided a good service, even an excellent one, but without the skills to market that service, they have fallen victim to these external changes.

The challenges that the SCA faced were not unique. Indeed, they are very similar to the problems that we’ve helped many organisations to tackle; retaining members and engaging with a wider number of stakeholders, identifying revenue streams, and adapting to a sector going through fundamental change. It just goes to show that a good reputation and decades of experience are not enough to stay afloat today. Without a compelling message, and a strategy and plan to communicate to the market you are targeting, providing a good service is not enough.
If you are a membership organisation, or work in the social care sector, speak to us about how we can help you adapt and prosper in the face of changes in the market. We’re here to help!
Articles about SCA:
Posted: 08/11/2012 15:43:35 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments
Filed under: Association, Care, Marketing, Membership, Organisations, Social

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