Association Management Companies

Association Management Companies (AMCs)

Association Management Companies (AMCs) have been a resource to non-profit associations for over 100 years; however, many board members and association executives today are unaware that this model of operating an association exists.

An AMC is a for-profit company that provides management and specialized administrative services to trade associations and professional societies. Similar to associations that employ their own staff and maintain their own office headquarters (often called "stand-alones"), AMCs also have employees, but provide services to multiple associations rather than just one. Services typically include strategic planning, financial management, executive management, membership development, marketing, and public relations, educational and professional development, meeting and event planning, among others.

AMCs manage associations of varying sizes and annual budgets. According to a report by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), "the AMC model is currently supporting organizations of all sizes, some with annual budgets of less than $500,000 and others with budgets as large as $10 million."

An AMC is an alternative method for management of a non-profit organization. Associations may contract with an AMC to manage day-to-day operations and provide executive leadership. The AMC is responsible for providing a designated scope of services to the non-profit organization for a negotiated fee. This can range from full-service management to specific time-limited projects.

How Do AMCs Work with Associations?

AMCs customize their services to the specific needs of an association. AMCs can subcontract for specific services with an association (such as membership recruitment, lobbying, or trade show management) or provide a full-service management contract that includes all phases of managing the association, including the services of an executive director.

When an association's board of directors or executive staff is interested in exploring the possibility of contracting with an AMC, a Request for Proposal (RFP) outlining the scope of services desired should be developed and circulated to AMCs. It is common that an association forms a search committee to help it identify an AMC to meet all its staffing needs, much the same way it would fill an executive director position. If your organization is interested in exploring a partnership with an AMC, an RFP document has been developed to assist in that process.

Where are AMCs Located?

According to the AMC Institute, there are over 400 AMCs in operation around the world. There are approximately 40 AMCs located in California which are either dedicated AMCs or focused departments within other professional services firms (i.e. law firms, lobbying firms, meeting and event firms, etc.) providing full-service association management to over 200 non-profit associations.

Opportunities for Professional & Career Growth

AMCs provide full-time and part-time employment for executive directors, administrative professionals, meeting planners, accountants, lobbyists, and others. Many of these positions offer flextime, work-at-home options, incentives such as profit-sharing, vibrant and changing tasks, and the benefits of working in a learning environment that is fueled by engagement with a wide variety of industries and professions.

As an AMC, there may be more opportunities to advance to the level of an Executive Director/CEO position due to the sheer volume of associations an AMC manages. For example, by working for multiple associations under the AMC umbrella, a staff member could have more chances to move into an Executive Director position, compared to someone who works for one association. The trade-off of juggling multiple associations at the same time can be challenging, and may not be suited to all; however, a position at an AMC may produce more options to a staff member who is interested in becoming an association CEO/executive director.

Additionally, a staff member of an AMC who serves multiple associations can gain wide exposure to a variety of different job functions (eg: membership, government affairs, education, meeting planning, etc), and thus can achieve a broad-based knowledge of association operations that can be useful toward advancing to an Executive Director role. The AMC model can also be helpful for candidates interested in achieving the CAE certification. The CAE exam tests candidates on a comprehensive body of knowledge essential to association management, and therefore exposure to multiple associations and a variety of job functions, including achievement of an Executive Director/CEO position, can be helpful to those who plan to take the CAE exam in order to become a CAE. Someone who sits for the CAE exam is required to have three years of experience as an Executive Director/CEO or five years working at the staff level in a qualifying association position.

In summary, AMCs are a viable option for advancing associations and providing career growth for professionals in association management. For individuals seeking challenging work in a variety of industries and professions, the job opportunities provided by AMCs are vast. Explore what an AMC can offer.