Why are associations relevant and important?

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Identify why associations are important and relevant

As Amith shared, there are many different roles that make an association work. Paid staff members and volunteers are vital within an association. 

It’s important to remember that there is no “typical” formula within an association’s organization. Each association has key components like the Board of Directors, an Executive Director or CEO and other C-suite executives.

How are associations important and relevant?

Associations are important and relevant in many ways. Regardless if an organization is a professional, trade or social association, these organizations connect people. Associations provide a place for professionals within the same industry or profession to build a diverse community, and for those communities to grow. 

Let’s further explore how these connections and associations are relevant.

  1. Associations connect people through membership - As Jesse Wilkins says, “associations provide opportunities to meet and engage with peers and colleagues.” Building and creating connections with peers and colleagues not only helps create personal opportunities for growth but also creates opportunities to create growth. Associations don’t just stop at connecting members, but also connecting with future vendors, supplies, employees and employers. The Associated Equipment Distributors list networking as one of the top benefits of joining its trade association. Not only can members create new connections but they can also share ideas to promote growth within their industry. 
  2. Associations set standards - Associations set standards in best business practices by providing training and insight on what works for industries and professions  — and what doesn’t work. Associations help standardize industry vocabulary so conversations can take place across organizational boundaries, and they carry out research to find and explain trends, existing practices and pinpoint gaps within the profession or industry. Associations set standards for credentials and certifications, which is especially important in professions and trades that can quickly impact other people, such as in healthcare or manufacturing. They set the standards on the strategies, processes and practices to meet business, social and safety needs. In associations, common credentialing programs are licensure, certificate programs, accreditation and certifications. Completing these programs can be mandated by law or voluntary, requiring an individual to meet requirements to show they have an established level of knowledge in a particular field. Associations set the standards for these assessments along with the curriculum. For example, The National Realtor Association has many designations and certifications that its members can earn. Association professionals have their own designations, too, and this Sidecar article explains some of the accreditations association professionals can earn. 
  3. Associations advocate on local and national levels - associations exert and extend political influence to support their members. Advocacy includes lobbying, creating policy documents and providing technical or specialized information. Many associations work with key policymakers, lawmakers and allied organizations to ensure their association receives full consideration and their members have access to the most influential officials to promote industry growth.

Associations not only benefit their members but also society. Associations work with volunteer efforts in times of natural disasters and need. They also set product standards on items such as toothpaste, toy safety and even seatbelts. Associations and their members are important because they create meaningful connections for each other and society.