Does the voice of a national association make your provincial association stronger?

If so, what are the benefits of being a provincial association that has a national association representing your industry or profession?

Provincial associations are made up of local members and stakeholders that have a need or common goal within an industry/profession. Many associations work on local initiatives that directly impact their members and are unique to their province or territory. National associations can pull the provincial bodies together creating links in issues and initiatives, which can only to strengthen the industry as a whole.

The benefits of national associations serving an industry or profession where provincial associations exist are as follows:

  • Connecting provincial groups together enhances communication throughout all levels of the industry or profession.
  • They can detect common issues that take place provincially and coordinate the resources necessary to provide a unified response nationally.
  • Coordinated national education programs benefit the industry as a whole
  • They can provide advocacy to all levels of government on behalf of the industry or profession.
  • They can coordinate endorsement programs that have greater buying power than a small provincial association.
  • They provide a voice on the international stage linking industries and professions across borders.
  • They provide a vehicle for increased employment opportunities between jurisdictions.
  • They can create a link with other groups that might compliment your industry or profession to speak as one unified voice.

We have a few association management clients where the national association provides significant benefits to the local groups.

Recently I attended a national board meeting for one of my clients where I could experience the benefits first hand. The meeting was a three-day event.

The first day was dedicated to educational and human resource issues that affect the industry locally and nationally with each provincial association having a representative around the table. Each province benefited by learning about the issues and challenges taking place in all parts of the country. This meeting also provided an opportunity for an expert to attend the meeting and present ideas that could benefit the industry as a whole. Having the provincial groups together helped save time and resources in sourcing beneficial programs that can be implemented by my client without having to source them individually.

The second day was a board meeting where each province provided a snap shot of what is happening in their region and how they are advancing and growing the industry. There was a good exchange of ideas that took place around the table. A representative from an industry endorsement partner came into the meeting as well to present to the group. The national association negotiates these agreements on behalf of the industry and provides access to the partners at national board meetings. The benefit here is huge in it is easier to communicate with the national group than to a bunch of local provincial associations.

The third day was an advocacy day on parliament hill in Ottawa where over 50 meetings were set up with government officials. This provided an opportunity for us to promote the industry, the challenges it faces and how government can assist the industry in growing, how that growth benefits the economy and the country as a whole. We met with government officials that have local responsibilities to help their constituents but also need to think nationally for the benefit of the entire country. This is an example of how the national association can bring together the smaller provincial associations to communicate as one voice for the industry.

The other interesting thing that took place during this three-day meeting was the connection with another national association that is a key stakeholder in the industry. This group had a board meeting, joint meetings with the national association and also participated in the advocacy day along side our group. Because of this we had a much stronger voice for the entire industry and showed that we are looking at benefiting the industry as a whole and not just our own sector.

As you can see by this example, the client we manage is stronger because they have a national association that provides them power they wouldn’t have if they were standing alone in our province.

The power of connecting, sharing ideas, providing education, advocating for the industry and providing more buying power all go a long way to making the provincial association a stronger advocate for our local members.