Associations: What Are They?
The association community comprises trade and professional associations, business leagues, chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, and other types of business membership organizations. Most, but not all, are organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the tax code. This small nonprofit segment represents almost 5 percent of all the nonprofits registered with the Internal Revenue Service, accounting for 72,500 of all registered nonprofits, according to data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS). These organizations include local, state, regional, national, and international associations.
Associations are organized for all types of purposes, but there are some recurring benefits that they typically provide their members, including:
- Education/professional development
- Information, research, and statistics
- Standards, codes of ethics, and certification
- A forum to discuss common problems and solutions
- Opportunities to further a specific mission, including volunteering and community service
- Providing a community of interest
Associations work to advance and promote the interests of their members, and virtually every industry and interest group has a membership organization that collectively represents its interests.
Beyond the benefits to their members, associations provide services and information to the general public and our communities. Associations coordinate assistance to individuals and families in times of natural disaster or urgent need. Others write product standards for everything from children’s toys to airline and traffic safety. Associations also invest millions of dollars to advance the professional training of the U.S. workforce. They also pay property and sales taxes, adding to the revenue base of local and state governments.
Source: Associations Matter: Associations by the Numbers study by Content First LLC. Full report available at www.asaecenter.org