By Jami Gibson

It seems as though there is an association for just about any profession, industry, cause, and hobby of which one could think. Whether loosely organized or well-coordinated, these groups are an outlet for like-minded individuals with similar goals and interests to gather and share information and experiences. In particular, business and professional associations provide great networking opportunities as well as credential maintenance and a unified voice to promote causes important to its members.

Despite the benefits that these professional associations may offer, in recent years, there has been less demand for their services, which presents a challenge to preserve and grow membership (and revenues). Since both association membership and revenue is dependent on industry and job growth, the increased unemployment and economic contraction during and after the recession has taken its toll on some organizations as their members may have lost their jobs or no longer can afford dues. Associations also face competition from private sector companies that have started providing some of the same benefits without membership dues.

So how can business and professional organizations overcome these obstacles? First, they can offer continuing education, training, and career guidance to their members. Second, the can make use of digital platforms to reach a wider audience, for example, giving educational courses through webinars or creating apps that can connect companies that cannot fund a trip to a conference or trade show. And third, they can partner with organizations, other associations, or academic institutions to pool resources and share costs, as well as expand the membership base and gain clout to back their interests.

To what organizations do you belong, and what services do they provide to keep you as an interested member?

Source: Hoovers First Research