Valentine’s Day: 14 Reasons to Love Associations

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so what better way to celebrate than by exploring why people should love associations.

Happy Valentine’s Day Eve. In honor of this beloved, or not so beloved, holiday, and taking inspiration from this Washington Post article on 14 reasons to love DC, here are 14 reasons to love associations:

1. They tap the volunteer spirit. More than 92 percent of association members reported volunteering

within their associations or other organizations, according to a 2008 survey published in ASAE’s Decision to Volunteer. That’s compared to the 26.5 percent of the U.S. population that reported volunteering in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s not hard to look around and see the impact that associations have on our community, and that work is really driven by volunteers,” Debra BenAvram, CAE, CEO of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, told Associations Now. “We as a community have really embraced volunteers as a part of our workforce. Valuing volunteers and volunteering as a part of our organizational culture is a wonderful representation of that legacy.”

2. They’re creative. Associations such as the American Chemical Society come up with innovative ideas like putting their strategic plans on trifold cards that fit easily into members’ pockets.

3. They connect us. Last year, as part of a month-long, statewide Tech Tour, staff members of

the North Carolina Technology Association traveled throughout the state meeting with members and hosting roundtables with industry partners and leaders to discuss technology issues and illustrate how the industry is helping North Carolina’s economy.

4. They can help you get dressed. This one really only applies if you work for one, but, love them or hate them, staff shirts or conference apparel make getting ready in the morning a whole lot easier.

5. They can help you find a job. The International Franchise Association, for example, expanded its VetFran program two years ago to help returning veterans become franchise owners. The goal of the new program—Operation Enduring Freedom—is to bring 75,000 veterans and military spouses, and 5,000 wounded vets, into the industry as franchise owners by the end of 2014.

“What we heard over and over again was that what veterans need most when they return is a job,” Beth Solomon, IFA vice president of strategic initiatives, told Associations Now. “Many vets who return may not be in a position to be franchise business owners right away. What they really need is a place to start.”

6. They help us do our jobs better. Take the National Science Teachers Association, for example. Last year NSTA released three iPad-ready e-books designed to help science teachers become more familiar with content they were teaching but lacked extensive training in.

“There are a lot of teachers, especially in the elementary- and middle-school levels, that may not have the content expertise in a particular science content area, but they are expected to teach it. The more comfortable they become with the content, the more effectively they’ll be able to teach it in the classroom,” Leisa Clark, producer/director of e-learning production at NSTA, told Associations Now.

7. They like to meet, and meetings help the economy. There was a 9 percent increase in meetings’ contribution to GDP between 2009 and 2012, according to the Convention Industry Council. That increase provided $115 billion to the economy.

8. They like to reinvent themselves. It seems like every week there is an association rebranding itself to better serve its membership.

9. They can match you with a mentor. Everyone from CEOs to young professionals is looking for a mentor, and many associations are helping create successful matches both within and outside their membership. Last year, the Boston Product Management Association launched a partnership with Harvard Business School pairing BPMA members and HBS students in mentor/mentee relationships that benefited both parties.

“Both the mentors and the students benefit from this,” BPMA President Sarela Bliman-Cohen told Associations Now. “Most of these students have never been in product management, so they may have a lot of ideas and strategy but they haven’t had hands-on experience, and the mentors come with hands-on experience. The mentors, on the other hand, will get a chance to work with potential start-ups as well as audit the HBS product management class. It’s a good symbiotic relationship.”

10. They provide a voice. When the federal government shut down last fall, or when federal agencies and programs were grappling with the effects of sequestration, associations were out there advocating for their members and the public.

11. They make us feel welcome. At the California Dental Association, “member concierge” Terry Fong, calls all new members individually to welcome them to the organization. It’s part of an effort to create personal connections, and even the initially skeptical eventually warm up to the calls.

“I always frame it as, ‘I’m the member concierge here, and we’re here to help you, and I know that you’re very busy, but what I’m trying to do is collect some information here to complete a profile on you,’” Fong told Associations Now. “That’s the word I use, and they’ve been open to that.”

12. They offer some pretty great benefits. Travel awards for conference attendees. Research tools and funding. A salary calculator. Legal advice. It’s hard to choose which of these may be the best benefit ever, but they are all some of the perks associations are offering their members.

13. They make learning fun. At the High Technology Crime Investigators Association (HTCIA) International Conference last year, attendees got a chance to compete against one another and test their skills as cybercrime investigators via an updated game of Capture the Flag.

“We don’t want everyone just to become complacent and think, ‘We’re going to be sitting there and listening to people speak,’” Maria Noboa, a member of HTCIA’s marketing committee, told Associations Now. “So we thought this challenge would be a great way to kick off the event and educate people in a fun, engaging way.”

14. This one’s up to you. Why do you love associations? Let us know in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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