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New Dues Models and More Trends Associations Should Watch in 2016

Associations are growing; conferences and trade shows are packed; and a potentially detrimental new tax was postponed. Things are looking up for associations in 2016. To get more insight, we asked ASAE president and CEO John Graham for the trends he’s watching. 

Engagement membership model will continue to increase


Mobile technology is allowing associations to move from a membership-based model to an engagement model. That means instead of paying annual dues for a package of services, members will be able to engage with the association at the level they want. John says they could end up paying more or less in dues. 

The trend is being driven by smartphones, where most people are accessing information rather than their desktop or other devices. Mobile allows associations to provide content in ways that wasn’t possible before, adds John.

Association membership is up
for most but not all 

Those serving healthcare and professional scientific societies are continuing to see growth and are back to or ahead of where they were in 2007 and 2008. But John tells us associations representing the building and construction industries aren't seeing as much membership growth.

Conferences and trade shows aren’t going away


No matter the generation or tech advances, people still love face-to-face interaction. In many cases, that need is increasing, says John. Since Millennials outnumber Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, John says the event space is looking bright for associations. But wasn’t technology supposed to replace in-person meetings? Not quite, says John. Technology is enhancing the experience with everything from apps that help attendees navigate large events to software that provides analytics on attendee behavior.

Keep an eye on Congress


John says the association industry breathed a sigh of relief when Congress delayed a provision in the Affordable Care Act that levies a tax (nicknamed the Cadillac tax) on the most expensive employer-sponsored health insurance plans. Implementation was postponed from 2018 to 2020. A new administration could fully repeal the tax, says John.

Now the association sector is watching Department of Labor rules that will be introduced in July to extend overtime pay to 5 million white-collar workers. The rule could affect not only associations but the entire charitable community, says John. ASAE is also always looking at rules on federal employee travel and how changes could affect their ability to attend professional meetings. 

DC-based associations should also be watching the Family Medical Leave Act and how it affects small employers. The concern is the tax to pay for it and how it will be implemented. “We’re not even there yet. Who knows what will happen in the wake of the 2016 election,” says John.