There’s an Association for That


Katelyn is a writer, copyeditor, and association professional who currently serves MSAE as its Communications Liaison. Her experience and background working in association management offer a unique perspective to MSAE membership.

Though the breadth and scope of associations span across almost every imaginable sector and industry of society, experience and experiment have taught me that most people (present company of reader likely excluded) can name only a few. Furthermore, those few generally fall into categories related to homeownership, insurance, and/or collegiate sports. Whether you are new to association work or a seasoned professional, understanding the reach and purview of our organizations helps extend it further. Simply stated, the more we know about associations, the more we can spread awareness and drive membership.

While all associations are vital to our community, some are more familiar – or visible – than others. Be it prevalence, branding, or necessity, some qualities help us recognize certain groups more readily. I like to encourage people, specifically association outsiders, to embrace the reality that there is an association (society, foundation, institute) for almost everything. And, if there is not, I would argue that there should be.

In my previous post, I mentioned some difficulty in explaining the nature of work in associations. But the question remains, can I [we] settle on a description that encapsulates the full span of associations and suits colleagues and fellow Thanksgiving-dinner attendees alike? Getting this right will allow associations to be better utilized by society as a resource and, importantly, also encourage our constituencies to make the most of our [their] communities in return.

The multitude of associations that exist is rather astonishing, as is the diverse assortment. Variety really is the spice of life. This takes us right back to explaining our chosen vocation. For example, I will say to my uncle, friend, or unassuming, earnest elevator companion inquiring about my job, "Did you know there is an association for electrical contracting?” Or the sidewalk – the concrete? There’s an association for that. Not to mention, I might continue, [there are] groups for: superintendents, chiropractors, horses, libraries, soft drinks, builders, county roads, pharmacists, mental health, justice, funeral directors, water – and not just any water – rural water! Just to name a few…

Exasperation aside, this resonates. A conversation begins; a connection is made. As we conduct our business, garner insight, and consider the merits of advocacy, and our ability to drive change: let us celebrate the extent of our collective reach and the diverse communities we serve.