Business & Professional Associations

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 21,000 business and professional associations in the US provide services to and promote the interests of their members and industries. Business associations include chambers of commerce, real estate boards, and manufacturers’ and trade associations. Professional associations include healthcare professional and bar associations.

Employment Affects Membership

High unemployment often causes association memberships to decline.

Increasing Dependence on Non-Dues Revenue

Uncertainty over dues revenue has led associations to become more reliant on non-dues programs.

Industry size & Structure

A typical business association employs 7-8 workers and generates almost $2 million annually, while a typical professional organization employs 9-10 workers and generates $3-4 million annually.

    • The business and professional association industry consists of about 21,000 organizations that employ about 201,900 workers and generate about $66 billion annually.
    • Business associations include chambers of commerce, real estate boards, and manufacturers' and trade associations.
    • Professional associations include healthcare professional and bar associations.
    • Most organizations are small and operate out of a single location.
    • The median board size for associations is 15, according to the ASAE.
    • Large associations include the National Association of Realtors, National Association of Manufacturers, American Medical Association, and the National Education Association.
                                  Industry Forecast
                                  Business & Professional Associations Industry Growth
                                  Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                  Recent Developments

                                  May 16, 2024 - Weak Revenue Growth Expected
                                  • Business and professional association industry sales are forecast to grow at a 3.2% compounded annual rate from 2024 to 2028, slower than the growth of the overall economy, according to Inforum and the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc. Business and professional associations generate revenue primarily through membership fees and dues. Business and professional association industry employment was unchanged during the first quarter of 2024 while average wages for nonsupervisory employees decreased moderately, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
                                  • Bankruptcy filings continue increasing toward pre-pandemic levels, according to Fitch Ratings, and business and professional organizations may be negatively impacted if companies eliminate participation in association-sponsored trade shows and conferences as a result. Overall corporate bankruptcy filings increased 40% to 18,926 in 2023, normalizing from 13,481 filings in 2022, but remain around 18% below the pre-pandemic average from 2016 to 2019. Chapter 7 liquidations increased 32% year over year in 2023, while Chapter 11 reorganizations increased 58% for the year. Higher-for-longer interest rates and approaching loan maturity walls will lead to an up-tick in high-yield and leveraged-loan defaults, including distressed debt exchanges and corporate bankruptcies, according to Fitch.
                                  • The business and professional associations industry has been more cautious than others about adopting and investing in artificial intelligence (AI), according to Info-Tech Research Group. The reluctance is primarily due to concerns around the limitations and risks associated with Generative AI technologies that are often highlighted in the media. This hesitation is further compounded by a lack of organizational insight amongst IT leaders to formulate a business-aligned Generative AI strategy and governance model.
                                  • About 67% of associations are engaging their membership only to a moderate degree, according to a survey by association-services firm MCI of more than 12,700 members and customers from 51 associations around the world. Just 13% are engaging their membership strongly while 20% are engaging their membership in a “weak” fashion. The average engagement score between associations and the responding members and customers was 88 out of 150. A report based on the survey finds that subject-matter expertise and relevance of content are areas where associations are “excellent” in their performance, while fostering innovation, “representation of my company’s interests,” and providing value for money were areas where no more than 30% said their association was “excellent” in its performance.
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