November 22, 2017
    Associations: We are all in this together

    I will never be comfortable with those who do not support the association that presents their industry or profession

    As an association executive for more years than I would like to admit, I will never be comfortable with those in the industry or profession who do not support the association that presents them to the public, educates and certifies and represents them in regulatory and legislative forums. The true benefit of an association is the opportunity to bring people together and solve mutual concerns. Think about it, where else can you bring your competitors to the table and legally solve industry or professional issues (of course we don't talk prices)?

    Associations never like losing a member, but representing an industry or a profession without everyone at the table weakens the argument brought forth and frankly isn't fair to those who pay the freight. More can be achieved when everyone is at the table than those who, through ill-advised economies, apathy or criticism, are on the outside looking in.

    Financial concerns are heard by associations on many occasions as the reason for nonbelonging. The association's retort is that if you can't afford or don't see membership as a priority value, then longevity of your venture is certainly in question. Being a vital element of an industry or a profession is the cost of doing business because if the industry or profession advances - all the industry or professional members advance as well. 

    It only takes one legislative or regulatory defeat to bring irreparable damage to an industry or profession. Though an association certainly cannot guarantee victory, isn't it an imperative to speak with one loud voice rather than singular pleas?

    Nonprofits are a unique American entity. For more than a century, guilds, NGOs, charities and not-for-profits have been the social backbone for change and betterment. That doesn't occur by happenstance. Associations bringing their members together for a common cause are responsible for more positive bottom-lines and greater understanding of the value of the industry or profession in question.

    The power of the association is that we speak as one and we speak in greater volume. For those who don't belong to their industry or professional association, it is time that you invest in your business. The price is a small token one pays to improve their standing within the industry or profession.  And for those who have fallen away from association membership, contemplate whether your bottom-line is any better than before. And answer the question: How is it going it alone?

    "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." – Henry Ford

    Borschke is an association executive with 39 years  of experience with four distinctly different trade associations. He wrote the book If you are Going Through Hell - Don't Stop Keep Going: A Guide to Transition and Search. This commentary original appeared here.

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    Association TRENDS