A Year of New Association Voices: 12 Groups That Launched in 2018

Whether brand-new trade groups, fresh-faced associations, revamps of existing organizations, or issue-driven coalitions, a lot of groups got their start in 2018. Here’s a nice long list to give you an idea of the industry’s breadth.

The great thing about the association space is that the longtime saying about the field—there’s an association for everything—is generally true.

And if there’s not an organization for something, just wait a couple of weeks. It’s likely coming—whether it represents a small slice of the world or a giant new initiative that is destined to change a lot of lives.

As we close the door on 2018, read on for just a sampling of the many new organizations that came to life during a busy calendar year.

Some might be familiar to you—and some others might just surprise you by highlighting the association field’s sheer depth.

New Messages

Sometimes, a group comes to life as a result of no other group fitting an existing need, or perhaps not in the exact way its founders are thinking. There’s always room for new voices in the world of associations and nonprofits. Here’s a sampling:

The Center for Humane Technology, brought to life with the support of a number of alumni from major tech firms such as Facebook, Mozilla, and Google, emerged as a major voice against the aggressive overuse of technology during a year in which that was one of the news cycle’s biggest stories.

Stronger America Through Seafood, a fishing industry group, aims to help sell a somewhat old concept, aquaculture, in the United States, as concerns about increasing demand emerge.

Speech First, a membership-driven advocacy group formed in March, launched with the goal of defending free-speech rights on college campuses across the country at a time when the culture wars are picking back up again. It emphasizes that protects speech on both sides of the aisle.

The American Glamping Association, picking up on a hot camping trend, launched in July with the goal of helping to bring together companies in the industry that were feeling somewhat … well, isolated.

The Senior Dining Association launched earlier this year to help bring together those focused on raising the bar for food at senior-living facilities. Founder Harris Ader said that the group came about because existing groups either focused on just senior living or just culinary issues.

The National Owners Association, a group of McDonald’s franchisees, came to life in October, a part of a larger trend among fast-food franchisees to join forces under the umbrella of an association.

New Directions

Of course, not every group is starting completely fresh. Often, organizations might find themselves in the midst of major relaunches, mergers, or redirections.

A few that fit that bill:

The Bank Policy Institute may be a new group with a new name, but it comes from the merger of two of the most prominent financial-industry groups in the field—The Clearing House Association and the Financial Services Roundtable. The group came about after FSR’s former leader, onetime presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, decided to return to politics, and represents a combination of FSR’s policy-driven approach with TCH’s research-heavy tactics.

The North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture launched in 2016 as the North American Edible Insects Coalition, but switched gears this year after it discovered livestock was easier to sell on the benefits of edible insects than humans.

The Printing Industries Alliance brought on a New York-based former chapter of the trade group Idealliance and relaunched that group as the PIA Mailers Council.

New Coalitions

Coalitions are often focused on more specific topics, sometimes coming about in the midst of a hot-button issue during election season. Here are just a few of the coalitions and alliances that surfaced during 2018:

The Professional Certification Coalition, formed by ASAE and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, came about in July after state-level legislation challenging voluntary professional credentials picked up.

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, responding to months of aggressive action by the Trump administration on tariff issues, drew wide support from the agricultural and business industry upon its September launch. More than 80 organizations joined at the time of its announcement.

The Decentralized AI Alliance, formed in May, brought together groups focused on artificial intelligence issues, including the Association for Computing Machinery’s AI Decentralized initiative, with the goal of decentralizing research on the blockchain. In other words, two of 2018’s buzziest buzzwords joined forces under a single cause.

Any groups that you want to highlight? (There were a lot. We’re bound to miss a few.) Share them in the comments.

(marrio31/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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