Emily Bratcher is a contributing editor at Associations Now.
The National Athletic Trainers' Association launched its International Speaker Program to elevate the profession and fund members who present at conferences around the world.
Presenting research or other intellectual property at conferences is a great way for speakers to contribute to their profession and even advocate for it. But it can be expensive, especially if it requires traveling to an overseas meeting. High cost, like airfare, accommodations, and meeting registration, might preclude some from even considering the possibility of presenting abroad.
That's why the National Athletic Trainers' Association launched an International Speaker Program (ISP), which awards up to $5,000 to select members who present at meetings around the world. In doing so, NATA hopes to raise awareness for the association and profession at large.
The idea for ISP came from NATA's international committee in January 2016. This committee has two strategic objectives: to support members abroad and elevate the profession around the world.
"[ISP] just fit really well into the committee's strategic plan, and it also supports our members that have really great research initiatives and presentations that would be of interest abroad," says Tamesha Logan, NATA's director of marketing and public relations.
However, to get the board's approval for ISP, the committee realized that it needed to outline the program's potential return on investment. It was crucial to illustrate that this wasn't "a free card to travel abroad," Logan says, but would rather benefit the association and the wider profession, especially since it would require NATA to invest $20,000 to $25,000 a year in the program.
[ISP] just fit really well into the committee's strategic plan, and it also supports our members that have really great research initiatives and presentations that would be of interest abroad.—Tamesha Logan, National Athletic Trainers' Association
But it can be tough to quantify whether you've met the goal of elevating your profession around the world. To help determine if the program was successful, NATA's committee developed metrics that include everything from relationships that were made, inquiries to establish affiliate partnerships, and international submissions to NATA's Journal of Athletic Training.
The committee also created a handful of requirements that presenters, if awarded the money, would have to comply with. For example, awardees must include NATA and NATA International Committee logos on all materials, such as PowerPoint slides and handouts. They must also state in their presentation that NATA fully or partially funded their presentation, and they must allow NATA the right to offer the presentation as a webinar, among other obligations.
To further ensure ROI, the committee developed two lists of conferences that offer the most opportunity to elevate awareness of the profession. One list includes the highest-priority conferences, while the other features secondary-priority conferences. Preference is given to ISP applicants who present at high-priority conferences.
These requirements were then put into a detailed proposal, which the board approved back in January. In April, NATA launched the program. So far, the program has received about 10 applications and one award has been given. Although it's still early, Logan says the committee's strategic planning has paid off.
"We are happy with the interest we are seeing and hearing about the program. Site traffic to the international landing page is up, the NATA International Committee has received several informal inquiries, and most importantly, we are providing a member benefit that supports professional development, advancement, and education," she says.