Associations by the Numbers: An Overview

Advancing the economy and society:

Associations make broad contributions to American life. They are an essential piece of our national, state, and local economies. They create jobs in every state. Their measurable economic benefits include more than 1.3 million jobs for Americans and a total payroll of more than $55 billion. Beyond their direct economic impact, associations play a vital role in enriching communities and creating positive change around the world.

  • The IRS recognized 63,866 trade and professional associations in FY2016.
  • The IRS recognized 1,237,094 charitable and philanthropic organizations in FY2016.
  • Membership organizations employ more than 1.3 million people.
  • Membership organizations generate a payroll of more than $55 billion.
  • Nonprofit organizations’ share of GDP is over 5 percent.
  • Trade and professional membership associations generate $116 billion in revenue.
  • Nearly 63 million Americans volunteer through a membership organization.

Advancing the workforce:

Each year, associations provide millions of American workers across every industry and state with critical post-college skills training required for professional success and career advancement. Associations proactively and purposefully create centralized training programs, certifications and standards to ensure individuals, industries and society-at- large benefit from a strong and vibrant workforce.

  • Of the 57 million adults in America who take formal work-related courses or training each year, 9.7 million (or 17 percent) receive that training from a professional association.
  • In total, associations account for more than 315,000 meetings held in the U.S. each year, with 59.5 million participants in attendance.
  • Most associations (88 percent), regardless of type or size, report sponsoring an annual meeting or exhibition, with a median attendance of 803 registrants.
  • More than half (52 percent) of associations report holding other regularly scheduled meetings on specific topics throughout the year.

Source: IRS Data Book 2016; NAICS (North American Industry Classification System), U.S. Census Bureau