Association Management Companies (AMCs) are gaining in popularity
as associations grow in number. We
frequently find that association officers, board members, and managers are unfamiliar with AMCs and how they function.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about AMCs:
What is an AMC?
Association Management Companies are firms which specialize in the many challenges facing trade associations, professional societies, foundations, and other not-for-profit organizations.
AMCs come in all sizes and scopes, serving from two to 200 client associations, but the average-size AMC has between four and ten clients and fewer than twenty employees.
Why use an AMC for full-service association management?
In many instances, associations, societies, and foundations realize that:
Many associations are turning to AMCs for full-service management: they lower their expenses, turn
over the administrative logistics to a qualified staff, and draw upon a highly developed association experience and talent.
- They do not have the in-house expertise or experience necessary to accomplish their goals;
- Maintaining an in-house staff, an office, and equipment is not the most efficient use of the association's funds - funds which could be better put to use in member services or lobbying efforts to legislator services or other policy-making bodies.
Why outsource selected services to an AMC?
Associations typically work with limited resources and cannot always hire the talented people most suited for a particular task or project. An association with a small (or volunteer) staff may not have the expertise or tools to plan a trade show, educational meeting, or negotiate with hotels and exhibit halls. Using an AMC that has competent, experienced leadership and meeting planners is much more effective at this and usually saves the association money in the long run. Other items such as publishing, printing, strategic planning and membership recruitment can also be utilized.
How is an AMC different from hiring someone from our industry (a retired board member, for instance) to run our association?
A retired Board member or past officer will definitely know your industry or profession and its concerns better than AMC personnel, but they probably will not have the experience most associations need to conduct the major business of the association. Many associations have common issues across a broad range of industries, so an expert in "associations" is typically more valuable than an expert in one specific profession. In addition to potentially significant financial savings, an AMC usually has people who are experts in the areas of meeting planning, publishing, membership recruitment and development, strategic planning, not-for-profit financial management, government relations, and more. To get the best of both worlds, many associations contract with an AMC for day-to-day management, but hire a knowledgeable industry person as a consultant.