Why We Think Associations Are More Important Now than Ever Before

Updated: Oct. 12, 2018  |  Categories: Membership  

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The employment landscape across all industries continues to shift, which changes everything. Most importantly, the traditional employment model has been replaced with the transformation to the gig economy. Increasing the importance of professional and trade associations in regard to providing consistent continuing education and training.

Why, then, are the generations post baby boomers not joining associations?

The answer rests in the overwhelming investment most memberships require. Smaller firms and individuals have less economic resources to devote to discretionary funds. Larger corporations have inherently seen the value and have, in fact, paid for this perk for employees. But this luxury is also changing. While companies often see the value of an association membership, financial restraints prevent them from making the investment, leaving the obligation to employees.

Communicating value is key to an association’s ability to grow its membership, which is necessary for the success of the benefits provided to members and industry alike. Those benefits are vast and can improve the career trajectory for both employees and entrepreneurs. They are important to ensuring industry achievement. And it all starts with simply becoming a member.

But what does membership get a person?

It goes well beyond networking.  Of course, networking is one of the most important benefits for members. Connections can help advance an individual and the industry in which they operate. Not only that, but those important connections a person has can help with creating awareness for a particular cause, company, or industry.

While networking is important, having and sharing knowledge is central to any chapter’s mission. That knowledge comes from research conducted by the association, members, and/or companies operating within the industry in question. The studies conducted track emerging trends and helps to grow the industry as a whole. 

Knowledge must be shared with membership to be a true benefit to them and the industry. The aforementioned research is one avenue, others include training, certification, and continuing education.  Training provides the education on how to do a job. Certain industries, such as health care, hospitality, and education require high levels of training just to have a job. In fact, associations often provide a central location for records associated with such trainings or certifications, making it easy for employers and members to keep track of what trainings they have completed and what certifications they have earned.

With all these amazing benefits, why does it sometimes seem as though less people convert to members of associations?

We believe, the greatest threat to membership growth is a lack of awareness about the benefits an association offers within younger generations. Building that awareness is the next step for association chapters. This starts with a movement of awareness and inclusion with community and industry leaders. The time is now to collaborate and grow the benefits that your chapter has to offer. And this starts with the members, since the value of an association is vested within the views of its members – what they think and what they need. Without them, the benefits offer little meaning for potential members or the industry. Communicating that value is everything.

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  1. Randy Layman

    Dec. 16, 2020

    I think there should be mention of one other factor that addresses the lack of support for trade or professional association by large corporations. Years of discussions by me with my industry leaders shows that there is concern that somehow these trade and professional groups with morph into some sort of labor organization and they want none of that. My trade association is nearing 69 years in existence without even a whisper of unionization or organized labor; although I see nothing wrong with such goals. Our Mission Statement and Code of Ethics discourages it, but not necessarily for its own sake.

  2. John Menard

    Jun. 5, 2018

    The value that any Chapter / Organization provides needs to be continually promoted to its members. We as members often times lose sight of the value be bring to the team, and do not always appreciate the value we receive.



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