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 22,100 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 12 workers and generates $3-4 million annually.

    • The business and professional association industry consists of about 22,100 organizations that employ about 198,300 workers and generate about $53 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

                                  Mar 3, 2023 - Member Engagement Lags
                                  • 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.
                                  • More than half of the economists surveyed by The National Association for Business Economics think that the US is either already in a recession or expect a downturn in the next 12 months. The quarterly survey of economists at businesses or industry associations showed that the biggest downside risks are higher interest rates and costs. Upside factors are increased labor force participation and improved supply chains.
                                  • Associations and independent trade shows will be hit hard if predictions of a 2023 recession prove correct, according to Forbes. Many businesses cut expenses in economic downturns, and association membership dues can be on the cost-savings list. Two aspects of the dues process make association management difficult. First, renewals are typically annual, so the association does not know that a member won’t renew for up to a year. This problem worsens if all renewals happen at the same time. Staggered renewals allow association management to see trends develop. The second challenge is that some association managers are not in touch with the members most likely to not renew. The typical association manager works primarily with business leaders strongly committed to the association. The manager sees people who will reliably renew their memberships, but managers may not talk to members from those businesses that have a minor interest in the association.
                                  • Corporate Knights and the Global 100 Council have launched an initiative to mobilize some of the world’s most powerful actors to align their policy engagements as well as those of their industry associations with the Paris Agreement. The Corporate Knights Action Declaration on climate policy engagement has garnered the support of more than 50 global companies representing some $900 billion in annual revenues (almost 1% of global GDP). The Action Declaration takes a three-pronged approach. Signatories are committed to supporting climate action aligned with the Paris Agreement when engaging with policymakers, working with their major industry/trade associations to advance alignment with the Paris Agreement, and monitoring and disclosing climate policy alignment for their companies and their major industry/trade associations.
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