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As a badass leader, you’re all about finding what works best for your association and your team. Running an association or membership-based organizations is a lot of work, with constantly moving parts. 

To help keep up with member management, administrative tasks, budgeting, marketing, strategic planning, and everything else that goes into running a successful organization, many organization leaders choose to hire outside help. Here, we’ll dive deep into what an association management company does, and if bringing one on is the right fit for your organization. 

What are association management companies?

An association management company (AMC) is exactly what it sounds like — an independent business that helps associations manage their operations and key initiatives. AMCs may be brought on to handle all of an association’s management, or just specific service areas.

What do association management companies do?

Association management companies provide specialized services to associations and membership-based organizations to help them solve problems and manage their day-to-day operations. Common professional association management services include:

  • General administration 
  • Meeting management
  • Financial management
  • Marketing support
  • Event planning and management
  • Member services 
  • Consulting 

5 reasons to hire an association management company

We know we’re stating the obvious here, but association staffers are busy and typically have to wear all the hats, all the time. Association management companies help internal teams focus on their core competencies and the tasks that matter most, while outsourcing the rest. 

The benefits of working with an AMC are:

  1. Cost effectiveness: AMCs help associations save money by requiring fewer staff positions, which helps associations save on office space, equipment, software, and payroll costs. Instead of needing dedicated personnel for accounting, marketing, or office management, a single AMC can help support all of those departments. 
  2. Experience: AMCs work with multiple associations at a time, so they’ve likely already dealt with a similar project for another client. Similarly, this broad exposure and experience keeps AMCs up-to-date on the latest industry trends, which they can then pass along to you. 
  3. Opportunities for growth: Experienced AMCs can identify and lead growth opportunities you may not have recognized before. In fact, many associations report increases in gross revenue and net operating income in the first year of working with an AMC. Additionally, with an AMC handling the minute details of the day, you and your team will have the bandwidth to spearhead more critical initiatives and provide better experiences to your members. 
  4. Focus your skills: If you’re a connector and driven extrovert, data entry likely isn’t the best use of your time. By outsourcing less desirable tasks, you’re free to do what you do best. 
  5. Aggregate buying power: Because association management companies work with several associations at the same time, they’re able to leverage group buying power to negotiate better rates with vendors. 

3 reasons not to opt for professional association management services

An association management company may not be the right choice for every organization. Here are a few reasons not to hire an AMC: 

  1. It’s not in the budget. Association management companies may charge by the hour or based on a retainer model. Expect to pay more per hour than you would an employee (and especially a volunteer!). Prices will likely vary from company to company. 
  2. You have the time and resources to handle operational and administrative duties internally. If you have a full staff who is capable of effectively handling all of your operations, you might not have a need for outsourced support. 
  3. You want control over every aspect of your operations. Bringing on an AMC to manage your association requires a high level of trust. After all, your association is your baby — it’s hard to hand that over to someone else. 

What to look for in an AMC

If you’ve decided that hiring an AMC is the right move for your association, you need to make sure all teams are aligned and share the same goals. Building a strong, trusting relationship is critical for success. The association management company you select will serve as your partner and an extension of your team and will be tasked with owning critical tasks, so you want to be sure you’re working with a talented team you can trust. 

Additionally, your AMC must be able to understand and embody who your association is and what it stands for. If it doesn’t “click,” then the disconnect could negatively impact relationships with your members, volunteers, staffers, and other important stakeholders. 

When selecting your association management company, make sure the team is:

  • Experienced
  • Communicative 
  • Understands your industry
  • Has a strong client retention rate
  • Inquisitive and asking a lot of questions at the onset 
  • Trustworthy and transparent

You’ll want to consider the cost and pricing model, where the AMC is located, how many staff members work for the company, and the client load of each staffer. After all, you don’t want to hire an association management company whose staff is too busy to give your association the attention it deserves.

Do you work with an association management company? Why or why not? Tell us about your experience — we want to hear from you!

Emily Herrington
Post by Emily Herrington
April 25, 2021
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.