Survey Examines NASW Members’ Priorities

A majority of current NASW members believe the association works hard to protect social workers and their practices, according to a recent survey conducted by the independent company Readex Research.

NASW, the world’s largest membership organization of professional social workers, sponsored the survey to better promote the profession and improve member services, said Susan Rubin, director of professional development and marketing.

“This survey provides NASW with important up-to-date information on what products and services are most important to our membership,” she said. “It is our top priority to strengthen and develop benefits that best meet the needs of our members.”

The 3,000 survey respondents were divided into their respective membership categories: current, former and those who had never joined the association.

Involvement with NASW

Nearly all current members (96 percent) indicated some type of involvement with the association in the last three years. Eighty-two percent of former members and 71 percent of those who had never joined indicated some level of involvement during the same time period.

About 40 percent of current members and 20 percent of former and never members have participated in NASW continuing education workshops or conferences in the last three years.

The NASW website was the most-used form of engagement with the association across the three categories.

Membership tenure

Current members tend to have a long history with the association. Median tenure for this group is 13 years; nearly a third had belonged to the association for 20 or more years. Former members had a median tenure of three years.

Reasons to join or renew. Current and former members had a similar response in their reason for joining or renewing their NASW membership: to obtain up-to-date information related to their field of practice. Most said they were also seeking opportunities related to networking, educational and career development.

Tracy Whitaker, director of the NASW Center for Workforce Studies and Social Work Practice, said the survey showed that current members were more likely than former members to have joined NASW for reasons related to internal professional pride. They reported that they enjoyed being identified as social workers and advocating on behalf of the profession as well as abiding by the NASW Code of Ethics.

In terms of renewing, current and former members said they continue to seek professional development or educational offerings after their first year of membership.

Former members said the top reason for not rejoining the association was because they believed the dues were too high. Among current members, 91 percent said they pay their full dues without employer assistance.

Membership benefits

Current members listed the most useful NASW membership benefits as: professional liability coverage; networking opportunities through the local chapter; the NASW News; continuing education opportunities from the CE portal/free Web online courses, as well as those offered the national office and chapters; the Social Work journal and the association’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the profession.

Among current members, 89 percent said they used at least one of the member benefits in the last three years, compared with 68 percent of former members and 47 percent of those who have never been members.

“NASW’s professional liability coverage proves to be a strong benefit for many current members,” Whitaker explained. “It is among the highest in importance and it also achieves high satisfaction rankings among this group.”

Survey respondents were offered a chance to comment about what they think NASW could do differently or better to most increase its value to them.

Suggestions included more advocacy for the profession, helping raise social workers’ salaries and more free or reduced services.