Value of Associations

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing associations, in which all partake, but associations of a thousand other kinds – religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government of France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.


-Alexis de Tocqueville, 1830's

The Power of Associations

One in every three Americans is a part of our nation’s vital association and nonprofit industry – whether as an employee, a member, a volunteer, or donor.

Associations help enrich lives through setting industry standards of quality, ethics, and safety; train our nation’s workforce; drive safety and sustainability standards; and draw on the wisdom and perspective of the collective so we can predict trends and seed progress.

Associations and nonprofits truly tap the power of millions – those who are most knowledgeable and passionate about industries, professions, and ideas.  In virtually every business sector and industry, across the country, state to state, associations mobilize millions to turn change into progress.

Association Facts

More than 1.9 million U.S.-based organizations were recognized in 2009. Of these organizations, 90,908 were classified as 501(c)(6) trade or professional associations, and 1,238,201 were classified as 501(c)(3) charities, foundations or religious organizations.

Keeping America Competitive

•  Associations employed more than 1.6 million people in all 50 states in 2009; 1.2 percent of the private sector workforce in the U.S. works for an association.

•  Associations create jobs in every state, with employment highest in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

•  Nearly one in 10 workers in Washington, D.C .is employed by an association.


Impacting the Economy

•  Associations generate a payroll of over $47 billion.

•  The average 2007 wage nationally for associations was $40,250. The average wage for trade and professional associations was $58,500.

•  Associations provide insurance and benefits coverage to employees.  Over 76 percent of associations provide insurance coverage to their employees, according to the ASAE Compensation & Benefits survey.

•  For associations offering a PPO, they pay an average of 90 percent of their employees’ health care premiums, and 53 percent of dependents health care premiums.

•  For associations offering an HMO, they pay an average of 88 percent of their employee’s health care premiums and 51 percent of dependents health care premiums.

•  Over the next year, almost 94 percent of surveyed association members anticipate their employment situation will remain the same (70.2 percent) or be better (23.5 percent).

•  Associations are major contributors to the meetings industry, holding meetings and seminars across the country.  The meetings industry accounts for 1.7 million jobs nationwide and generates $263 billion in spending, money that funds local and national economies. (“The Economic Impact of Meetings, Conventions, Exhibitions, and Incentive Travel,” Convention Industry Council, 2011.)

•  Association executives anticipate member spending on meeting attendance and purchasing will increase in the next year, driving more money into the economy.

•  The likelihood of association members attending a meeting more than 50 miles from their office is anticipated to increase next year:  Almost 44 percent of surveyed professionals anticipate an increase in miles traveled to meetings and more than a quarter are reporting they will travel the same number of miles.

Enriching Lives

•  Association members contribute their time: Over 90 percent of association members in ASAE’s Decision to Volunteer study reported having volunteered within their organization in the past year.

•  Associations are seeing an increase in the number of members volunteering, going from 31.9 percent to 44.8 percent over the past year.

•  Thirty percent of the people who volunteer their time do so through an association.

•  Associations members are more likely to volunteer for organizations in which they are involved than non-association members: half of association respondents to an ASAE survey volunteer for one or two organizations, and the other half volunteer for three or more.

•  Association members contribute money:  Association members are more likely than the general public to give to charities every year – 84 percent of the respondents in ASAE’s Decision to Give study reported charitable giving compared to 70 percent of the general public.

•  Associations were responsible for $50 billion worth of volunteer time, using the Independent Sector number that an hour of volunteer time is worth $20.85 to the economy.

Preparing For The Future

•  Associations conduct research the helps members keep pace with the global marketplace and equip the next generation of leaders with the skills to manage into the future.

•  Associations create industry certifications and standards of quality, ethics, sustainability, and safety.

•  Through forums (face-to-face and digital), association members discuss problems and develop solutions.

•  Association executives plan to offer more online education in the future, according to ASAE research.  ASAE member CEOs have seen an increase from 39.3 percent to 56.8 percent in the number of members participating in BOTH in-person and online education.

(Source:  The American Society of Association Executives,