Celebrating Associations Week!

By Anna Rivers, Marketing Manager


This week is Associations Week – the annual celebration of the work of the UK’s associations and the people who make them successful: the individuals who work in them and the volunteers who give freely of their time!


Associations Week was launched in 2017 by the Institute of Association Management (IofAM), the professional body for the senior staff responsible for the management, development and governance of trade bodies, professional institutes, societies, chambers of commerce, voluntary organisations, charities and other representative groups. The purpose of the Institute is to develop, promote and share best practice for the benefit of IofAM members and all those involved in the governance of associations.


In the UK, the association sector is often undervalued; indeed, it is rarely recognised as a sector in its own right. Associations Week aims to help change that by providing an annual focus on the contribution that associations make to society. It’s great to reflect on the successes you all achieve and also to highlight why working in the sector is hugely fulfilling and worthwhile – a career plus often associated with working in the charity sector but not as readily credited to our own.


So, log in to your social channels this week and tell the world what you love about working in the sector using #AssociationsWeek.


Here’s what other people say about working in the sector…


“My entire career has been in the not-for-profit sector and I don’t regret a minute of it: I have a passion for social responsibility and strongly believe that the choice to work in the sector reflects my core values and has given me the ability to contribute to Society.  My work experiences have been in both small and larger organisations and for me the former has been more fulfilling: there are so many opportunities to have a real impact on the overall strategy and be involved in a greater variety of projects. It’s a supportive and sympathetic sector in which to work: we are all faced with similar challenges and networking opportunities have introduced me to some fantastic like-minded people.” Nicola Emmerson, Director of Membership and Professional Affairs, Royal Statistical Society


Much like working for a charity, a career within the association sector enables you to support and further social causes that really mean something to you. Notably, there is a trend particularly amongst people starting out in their career to want to work for organisations that are more purpose driven with a social and ethical conscience, making professional bodies and associations an attractive career proposition.


“Working for a professional membership body is a unique and highly fulfilling experience. I personally joined the sector mid-career and was fortunate to progress up to senior leadership level, always learning and developing along the way. For new entrants, either at the start or part way through their career, there are a huge variety of roles on offer, both specialist or generalist. These reflect the diverse range of activities that professional bodies undertake and include areas such as membership development, training, conferences, publishing, research & policy, and volunteer management, as well as the usual business support functions. What’s unique about professional bodies is how all these activities come together to deliver on the organisation’s core purpose and to serve not only their members, but business, the economy and society as a whole. I’ve seen many individuals start their career in one function and then move to another as they grow and develop, enjoying variety in their career whilst working for an organisation whose values and purpose they align to.” Sue Upton, Business and Marketing Consultant and former Membership and Marketing Director at the CIPD


Because of the multiple functions in professional bodies there are a variety of roles and career paths. From the perspective of the individual career, roles can be feeders for talented individuals to progress from their first jobs to careers in event management, marketing, training, member development and many other areas.


“Variety is key. My role brings together editorial strategy and commercial management with interviewing, writing and editing. Every job is only as good as the people you work with, and the AOP and Think teams are talented, supportive, generous colleagues.” John White OT Editor and Deputy Director of Communications, Association of Optometrists


Never a dull moment, the word ‘variety’ comes up a lot when talking to people working in the membership sector about their jobs!


“Organisations are all about people and are more than the sum of the individuals. The growth and successes of the RSB have been enormously rewarding but there have also been challenges along the way. I have been fortunate to have worked with so many talented staff and trustee colleagues who have ensured the Society took opportunities and solved problems.” Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive of The Royal Society of Biology


Life in professional bodies and membership associations brings with it a feeling of personal pride in furthering important social causes. And, perhaps as a result, this always extends to a truly strong sense of pride for team achievements too.


It’s a sector to be proud of. Professional bodies and membership associations should stand up and be proud of what they do. So, let’s all inject more pride into our normal humble rhetoric and shout about the valuable contributions the sector makes to society as a whole.


As a final point (and shameless hint!) don’t forget to celebrate your organisation’s success and reward those hard-working people within it by entering the 2019 memcom membership excellence awards. We received so many positive emails from our 2018 trophy winners, here’s a taste of them below. With five categories and over thirty awards next year, there really is a trophy every team can go for!


“This was our first ever entry into the memcom awards and to win such an accolade means a lot to the team and also our members, demonstrating the impact of their professional institute and the continued value from print publications. We are a small team at the IoIC and to have such an achievement is truly wonderful!” Jennifer Sproul, Chief Executive, Institute of Internal Communication


“The award ceremony was a great event. We really enjoyed meeting others from different membership bodies and learning about the amazing work they have been doing. It inspires and challenges us to think bigger thoughts and dream bigger dreams.” Jude Obi, Assistant Media Relations Manager, Association of Accounting Technicians


“Winning the Most Innovative Use of a Website award has raised the profile of the Business Continuity Institute amongst other membership organisations and demonstrated our commitment to delivering a personalised user experience….” Natalie Turner, Marketing Manage, Business Continuity Institute


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