How to Start an Association
Creation of an Association
How to start an association? The process can be difficult and using a consultant can simplify the process. According to the IRS the main requirement for creating an association is simply drafting articles of association. However, creating a successful association takes much more than a written document.
An association is defined by the IRS as
”In general, an association is a group of persons banded together for a specific purpose. To qualify under section 501(a) of the Code, the association must have a written document, such as articles of association, showing its creation. At least two persons must sign the document, which must be dated.
The definition of an association can vary under state law. You may wish to consult the law of the state in which the organization is organized.” (https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/definition-of-an-association)
You can fill out the forms and create an association, but in order to ensure that your organization is effective you need to take the time to do the groundwork.
First, you need to ensure that you have a clear purpose and mission that you are working toward. You can have a well-worded document that creates an association but if you don’t have a specific, focused purpose it will be difficult to achieve your goals. A common error for organizations is to include too many things in their purpose and make their focus too broad.
A consultant can provide valuable feedback and insight as you work to clearly define your focus. Once you have determined your focus, then you can work on your purpose and mission.
Creating the Organization’s Infrastructure
Once you have clarified your purpose, you will need to craft a strong infrastructure to support the organization. The infrastructure includes creating the policies and procedures for what your organization does. You will also need bylaws to ensure that you can regulate the actions of the organization. A consultant can help you as you craft these important documents and point out areas for improvement.
After creating these policies, procedures, and bylaws, you will need someone to put them into action and that means that you will have to recruit people to lead your organization. When you create your articles of association, you will need to include a founder, as well as a board. Gathering the personnel you need is an important part of the process.
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Making the Association
Once you have your policies and procedures, bylaws, and your leadership created, you can then create your articles of association. This process will vary depending on your state so it is best to look up the specific laws related to creating an association. It may be necessary to register your association with the state.
After creating your organization, you will then want to create your online presence and recruit members. The first step is to make a webpage for your organization. First, you will need to reserve your domain name and then you can create a webpage.
On your webpage, you will need to provide general information about the organization such as your articles of association, your board members, and your purpose. You will also want to share the benefits of joining your association.
Social media will be critical for recruitment and for keeping your members informed. You will want to create social media pages in Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Depending on your membership, you may also want to have a SnapChat account.
A consultant can help you with this process and make suggestions for growing your following.
After you have started an association, you need to identify the membership benefits. You will need to share this information when recruiting potential members. It would be best to create an elevator speech that quickly identifies the top reasons for joining the association. When you are looking for ideas of benefits to include, look at associations in other states or associations with similar purposes to see how they explain their benefits.
Once you have identified the benefits of joining the association, you are ready for the next step which is key to your success, recruiting your members. A consultant can help you craft a statement highlighting the benefits of membership in your association.
Recruitment and Marketing
One of the most important parts of the association is your members. In order to start an association, you need to have a large body of members.
Recruitment and marketing are critical to adding members to your association. First, you should use your association’s social media accounts as a way to share information with members and help them connect with each other.
You will also need to find a way to reach out to individuals that would benefit from membership in your association. If you are an association that focuses on people in a specific geographic area, you can work on hanging up flyers and paying for social media advertisements that target that area. If you are looking at people from a specific profession, you may be able to contact the state licensing department to gather contact information for people in that profession.
A consultant can help you as you create your strategy for marketing and recruitment to ensure you are using high-impact practices to recruit and retain members.
Managing the Association
Finally, when you have done all the groundwork, you will have your official association. But then you will have to keep up with the management of it. You will need to ensure that people have access to the benefits they need. You need to keep your members informed of what is going on through newsletters, social media, and the webpage.
You also need to be working on ensuring that the needs of the members are being met. To determine member satisfaction you will need to find ways to get member feedback. You may want to do some surveys or focus groups.
In addition to this you will have the day in day out operations of the association. You will need to make sure that things are going smoothly and that means responding to emails, answering phone calls, and addressing concerns.
As you work on creating that daily routine, it can be helpful to have a consultant helping you strategize and ensuring you are working efficiently.
Achieving Your Goals
Once you are recognized as an association, you can really begin working on the purpose you have identified. Sometimes, you will run into roadblocks in achieving that purpose. There may be laws or policies that stand in your way. When that happens, you will need a lobbyist to help you negotiate those difficulties.
The Lockhart Group understands that mobilizing a network of advocates and allies is critical to achieving clients’ goals. With our guidance and management, associations can strategically position their objectives in the middle of policy changes.
By leveraging key relationships, we can help you build and deploy coalitions of diverse stakeholders whose voices and efforts together can galvanize change. We offer experience in all types of association management and coalitions, including non-profit and advocacy associations.
Organization structure and management
Membership and governance development
Grassroots and grasstops engagement
Conduct board of directors meetings
Manage association communications
Publish and distribute association newsletters