The newsLINK Group - The Benefits of Membership

Editorial Library Category: Associations & Membership Topics: Membership Title: The Benefits of Membership Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: An association can give its members a sense of community identity. Members can network and participate in ways that would be impossible without the support of the association. Editorial: The Benefits of Membership 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 The last few years have been financially challenging ones. Costs have risen, but so have the demands being placed on our time. Even if you’ve joined one or more associations in the past, you might feel a little hesitation about membership renewal. After all, what do you get for the money you spend? Would your money, and maybe your time, be better spent elsewhere? You are the only person who can really answer that question, but it is likely that your associations can (and do) give you much more than you give them. If they don’t, then maybe you don’t belong to the right ones, or you aren’t taking full advantage of them. U.S. associations have their roots in British guilds, but they also have a great deal in common with U.S. democratic ideals. As early as 1830, a French writer and statesman named Alexis de Tocqueville took a tour through the U.S. and commented that one reason democracy was succeeding was because of the associations that had been formed within communities. People of all ages, economic circumstances, and dispositions would form associations to serve each other and solve common problems. He was impressed by the results. Today, that kind of personal service is more valuable than ever. An association can give its members a sense of community identity. Members can network and participate in ways that would be impossible without the support of the association. In short, today’s associations have the same goals that they’ve always had: combining efforts and working together in order to get things done. It should be easy to find one or more associations that would benefit you. According to ASAE, which is the Center for Association Leadership, there were 90,908 trade and professional associations in 2009, as well as 1,238,201 organizations focused on charity or philanthropy. Some of these associations and societies are organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the tax code; philanthropic ones are organized under 501(c)(3). They have been tax-exempt since 1913 because of the benefits they offer to the public; if they didn’t exist, the government would have to use public funds to pay for these benefits. In other word, the government has traded a financial burden for lost tax revenue. Tax-exempt organizations are not allowed to make a profit that benefits private individuals. Any profits are dedicated to providing better programs and initiatives to benefit members and the general public. These groups could not possibly survive if they didn’t offer substantive benefits. They certainly would not able to retain a tax-exempt status. How much of a difference can association membership make? Here’s one startling statistic to consider: The Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI), which is a trade association, has found that 85 percent of the businesses that fail in their field don’t have involvement in their trade association. If the right association membership might mean the difference between staying in business and failing, wouldn’t you want to have that key advantage? Association members can enjoy many professional advantages. For example: Associations often help their members continue their educational and professional development by giving members access to academic opportunities, association events, conferences, and seminars. Your association memberships may help you better understand the most pressing issues for your profession, be informed about important developing trends, and find out about current or upcoming legislation that could impact you. You may also find professional leadership opportunities. Formally and informally, members pool together their information, research, and statistics. Although the Internet has made it easy to access all kinds of information, some information is still hard to get. Associations can fill in that gap. The Internet as a whole doesn’t care about helping you, but if you are an active