The 100 largest.Like most other associations, they use direct mail to recruit new members, and they worry about membership retention. Unlike most, if they reduce their membership attrition by 1 percent, they have retained 320,000 members. The American Association of Retired Persons American Association of Retired Persons: see AARP. , Washington, D.C., with 32 million members, heads 'The Top 100" list of associations by membership size in this issue. You'll also find associations ranked by staff size and by budget size in this feature.
We made a couple of changes to this feature since it last ran. To help put a face to the numbers, we have included in the lists thumbnail descriptions and management insight from some of the biggest organizations. You'll also notice that each list actually includes more than 100 associations. Whenever there was a tie for position-as with the National Association of Securities Dealers National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD)
Nonprofit organization formed under the joint sponsorship of the investment bankers' conference and the SEC to comply with the Maloney Act, which provides for the regulation of the OTC market. , the International Monetary Fund, and the American Chemical Society The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a learned society (professional association) based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. Founded in 1876 at New York University, the ACS currently has over 160,000 members at all degree-levels and in (all of Washington, D.C.), which tied for 19th position in the staff list with 1,700 staff members each-- the position was only counted once. For example, there are actually 192 associations in the "membership size" list.
As I studied these lists, I gained some remarkable insight about this business of association management.
Being every bit as fanatic about numbers as I am about words, I couldn't resist tallying the columns in each category and was startled star·tle
v. star·tled, star·tling, star·tles
1. To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
2. To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten. at how big the numbers are. The 192 associations in the "by member" category represent 260,862,063 members-- about 10 million more than every man, woman, and child in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Research done by the public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most firm Porter/Novelli for ASAE ASAE American Society of Association Executives
ASAE American Society of Agricultural Engineers (Society for Engineering in Agricultural, Food, and Biological Systems)
ASAE Alkali-Sulfite-Anthraquinone-Ethanol found that 7 of 10 Americans belong to at least one association, and 4 of 10 belong to four or more, and even this small slice of a very big pie suggests that this must be true. I myself am a member of a half dozen of the groups listed here, as well as a couple that aren't.
I was struck with the precision with which some of the associations quantified their members. While some round to the nearest thousand, the Medic Alert Donor Program, Turlock, California Turlock is a city in Stanislaus County, California, United States. As of the 2000 Census, the city had a total population of 55,810, the second-largest city in Stanislaus County. The city's recent rapid growth is evident in its current official population of 69,321. , and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.A., Washington, D.C., for example, have reported a count to the exact number at a frozen moment in time.
The number of staff members represented by the top 166 by staff size is equally staggering-233,723. Among the very large associations, typically the staff represents a combination of both administrative personnel and hands-on service providers. The American Red Cross American Red Cross: see Red Cross. , Washington, D.C., for example, has paid staff involved in their blood-collection drives. The idea conjures up for me an intriguing and attractive picture of staff members and volunteers working side by side in tangible work. This collaboration among staff and volunteers, it occurs to me, may occur almost as often in associations with very small staffs where getting the job done means relying on a great deal of volunteer "muscle" as well as brainpower brain·pow·er
1. Intellectual capacity.
2. People of well-developed mental abilities: a country that doesn't value its brainpower.
Noun 1. .
The top 189 associations by budget size add a final impressive indication of the importance of associations to our economy. These handful of organizations represent a collective budget of $12,683,654,148-a number approaching $13 billion.
One association that in particular stands out for me is a relative newcomerMothers Against Drunk Driving, Irving, Texas. The association made all three lists-number 18 by membership, number 83 by staff size, and number 55 by budget. In the short span of a few years, a handful of people with clear vision and the power to share that clarity have mobilized an enormous force.
I don't think I ever made the mistake of thinking that bigger was necessarily better. For some associations, the intimacy of a small membership group is a part of what makes them work.
But for most associations, growth is a goal, and tempered by the real knowledge of what the optimum potential membership size will be, these largest associations offer both instruction and inspiration. Thomas J. Watson Thomas John Watson, Sr. (February 17, 1874 – June 19, 1956) was the president of International Business Machines (IBM), who oversaw that company's growth into an international force from the 1920s to the 1950s. , Jr., son of the founder of IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries) Coporation, said, "For a company to grow, it's got to think big. "The Top 100" lists of associations certainly help to stretch my horizons about both the possibilities-and the complexities-of big.
I hope you enjoy perusing the lists and the power of association they exemplify.