There Is A Great Future in Associations

The Association Community is full of participants who see a future in the work they do.  Though many non-profits have taken major hits in the last few years due to the failing economy and the ever-changing systems that now allow networking and information gathering without ever leaving the comfort and security of your office, most agree that the association community is here to stay.

Many who find themselves as Association Executives never anticipated, in their wildest dreams that you can make a living doing this sort of work.  The vast majority of Association Execs went to school to study for an entirely different future but ended up in a career that most would never give back.  Believe it or not we are paid to organize meetings and trade shows, advocate issues near and dear to our being and conduct educational and information-based activities that provide a benefit to society as a whole.  Who wouldn’t want this job?

In a recent study, Daring to Lead 2011, by the Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and reported in the August, 2011 edition of Associations Now, 3,000 non-profit executives were surveyed on their employment tenure and anticipation for turnover in the next five years.  The results speak volumes on the lack of succession planning in the association community while also highlights the fact that there is a future for those seeking employment with non-profits and associations.

67% of the CEOs surveyed said they expected to leave their current jobs in the next five years with only 17 percent stating that their organizations had any sort of a succession plan in place.  10% said that they would be departing within a year, 24% within two years, 33% from 3 to 4 years and 33% mentioned that they would be leaving their current positions in five years.

One of the most startling figures released in the study was that 10% of the surveyed CEOs are actively considering leaving right now but have not given notice to their governing bodies.  If you take into consideration the findings of this study along with the natural turnover of those unfortunate individuals who don’t have their contracts renewed or are outright terminated, there is certainly a future for those who are now entering the Association Community looking for work or for those who continue in the field with anticipation of professional advancement in years ahead.

What is so enthralling by this study is that despite the fact that many CEOs postponed their retirements because of the latest round of economic woes dating back almost 5 years, that many Association Execs are now more comfortable with their personal financial status to make the big move away from the corner office.

The unreported fact of the matter is that many other CEOs, who would have naturally commenced with their oft delayed fishing and golfing careers in their later years have decided to maintain their professional status as Association Execs due to the tenuous times that we are all experiencing.  Of course there are others who see no future in their fishing and golfing careers and continue to partake in the exciting and ever-evolving association community because they believe they can still provide much to a field they love and respect.

No matter the reason for the obvious departure of the baby boomer generation of Association Execs in the next few years, the truth is that there is a future for those currently in or planning to enter the Association Community.  The non-profit arena is as viable as ever despite the changes we all face.  With new and energized youthful leaders, the profession will continue to be the field of choice for those who never even thought that eventually they would end up here.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted with the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

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