If you’ve been in the association space for a while (or perhaps even just a short time), you’ve probably heard the term ‘AMC’ thrown around, which stands for association management company. But do you fully know what that means? And better yet, could it be a good fit for your association?
Let’s start with the basics. First, what is an AMC? Well, an AMC, according to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), is defined as “a professional service company that specializes in providing management services for associations on a fee-for-service basis. AMCs provide the professional staff, administrative support, office space, technology, and equipment an association needs to operate efficiently.”
Now the question is, should your association consider one? This is a little bit harder to answer, but to help you think it through, here are a few questions we recommend asking yourself:
Do you lack experience in the association world?
When it comes to association leadership, there’s an ongoing debate about which is better: To hire someone with industry experience (an industry expert, so to speak) or to hire someone with association management experience. There’s no right answer, as there are pros and cons to each, but let’s just say you fall into the former. You’re an industry expert with little experience in the association world. If that’s the case, that’s ok – you still have your strengths, just like any other leader. But, since you do have limited experience managing an association, you may want to consider an AMC. They can help you out and lighten the load, particularly as you get your bearings.
Do you have time (and help) to manage your association?
For many, association management is a part-time job – but we don’t mean in terms of responsibilities. It’s a full-time job alright, but many people do it on the side (in addition to their full-time gigs). If that’s you, you’ve got your hands full, no, overloaded with tasks. And that’s in addition to you trying to have a semi-normal life (spend time with family, eat, sleep, etc.) as well.
Now even if association management is your full-time job, you probably still struggle with limited time and resources – to the point where you may need help. Whether you’re full-time or part-time, though, think of it like this: If you don’t have enough time (or help) to do what’s needed to keep your members (and potential members) happy and engaged, then it may be time to consider an AMC. After all, you just want to do what’s best for your association’s membership.
Are administrative tasks taking away from your primary skillset?
Administrative tasks are a part of any job, but sometimes, they can become so prevalent that they take away from you being able to actually do your job – or to the extend that you’d like to anyways. Let’s say you excel at relationship building and event planning, but since you spend so much time formatting emails and tracking registrations/renewals, you rarely get time to practice those skills. If that’s the case, you may want to consider an AMC to handle the administrative tasks while you focus on what you do best – to take your association up a notch.
Is there room in your budget?
Last but certainly not least, it’s important to evaluate your budget. An AMC comes at a cost, so whether or not you go this route all depends on whether or not you can afford it. (But note: Some of what you’re paying for now – office space, equipment, different software programs, etc. – could be transferred to your AMC budget, since they’ll be taking a lot of that over.)
Whether you go with an AMC or not, there are still a few things you can do to make association management easier (and more effective). See what those are in our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below! (Bonus: It’s free!)