Just how important is membership in a professional trade association?
The benefits to the member run the gamut–from advocacy to education and training. But what about the opportunity membership gives a person to make a difference in a time of national crisis?
In the aftermath of last September’s attacks on the nation, professional associations mobilized to help the victims and rebuild America.
Take for instance the National Roofing Contractors Association, which offered to repair and rebuild the Pentagon roof. Take the life insurance industry, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the American Council of Life Insurers, the Independent Insurance Agents of America and other insurance groups all joined the Insurance Information Institute to form the Disaster Insurance Information Office.
The DIIO built a comprehensive Web site, which provided the latest insurance-related information for the families of the victims, government officials, and the news media.
In addition, NAIFA and ACLI members participated in a program sponsored by the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), which set up a toll-free number for September 11 victims to call to get answers to their insurance questions. Several NAIFA and ACLI members volunteered to respond to those calls. (See related story, NU, Oct. 22, 2001)
Other associations representing many other industries have, like the insurance professionals, stepped forward to contribute in other ways.
Given their numbers, organization, and influence, associations are an integral part of our society. This is emphasized by the American Society of Association Executives, an association representing leaders of professional, trade and philanthropic organizations. ASAE estimates there are 140,000 associations nationwide, and that figure grows by about 1,000 each year.
Associations are an important cog of the national economy. They combine for $21 billion in annual budgets, and account for billions more in indirect benefits. Associations employ close to 260,000 Americans full time. They also contribute, according to ASAE figures, close to 200 million volunteer hours of community service annually.