Frequently Asked Questions about AMCs
Not really sure an AMC is for you? Here are some general FAQs about AMCs that hopefully will help!
What is an AMC?
An Association Management Company (AMC) is usually a for-profit firm made up of professionals from various specialties (membership development, meeting management, public relations, strategic planning, accounting, etc.) that provides management services to associations on a fee-for-service basis. The AMC staff works as the association’s staff, helping leaders develop and execute the strategies and programs to serve their membership. The AMC provides the professional staff, administrative support, office space, technology, and equipment an association needs to operate.
One of the biggest benefits of a multiple association management firm is that the association is relieved of the costly overhead of offices, which means that more of their membership dollars can be spent on programs beneficial to the members.
The AMC industry is more than 110 years old. Today, there are more than 25,000 national associations and over 600 AMCs worldwide.
How does my organization know when it's time to choose an Association Management Company (AMC)?
First, before you begin searching for the right AMC for your association, you must look at the reasons for beginning the search in the first place. One way to assess your current situation and see what future needs you might need, is to answer the following questions.
- Do you have the in-house staff and capabilities to do this work?
- Does your staff have the time to do the work?
- Would an outside expert better facilitate the work?
- What is your budget? Do you have outsourcing costs budgeted?
- Which staff members can and would do the work?
By answering these questions you’ll be better prepared to address typical questions posed by prospective AMCs. Your responses will help them to gain a better look at the current situation of your association.
Secondly, when researching AMCs, it is important to note that they are in the business of managing associations. AMCs know associations well. When you encounter challenges such as a new IT project or development of a marketing plan or governance issues within your organization, chances are that most AMCs have dealt with these issues numerous times before and in numerous ways. No two associations are alike so no two solutions are the same. Trust experienced AMCs to provide you with the expertise you need to move forward.
Finally, look for an AMC that offers flexibility and experience. The search for an AMC can be a long process, but it is an important process nonetheless. It requires careful attention from both you and the AMC. Make sure to provide prospective AMCs with all the information they need to make a professional assessment and provide you with a complete proposal that addresses all of your needs. Not providing all the information can leave too many areas in question.
What are the cost benefits associated with an AMC?
Whether your job is big or small, AMCs will charge you for the project completed vs. a flat fee, which is cost effective. AMC specialists have the expertise to provide various services with ease and less cost to the organization.
In regards to comprehensive management, the overhead cost for running a stand-alone organization can be extremely costly, especially for small to mid-size organizations. However, organizations managed by AMCs share the overhead costs of rent, utilities, technology, and maintenance, among other expenses. Your organization pays the overhead costs only for what it uses.
What are the benefits of choosing an AMC rather than relying on in-house staff to help with the work?
There are several benefits for choosing an AMC for your outsourcing needs. If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions then an AMC might help to free up your time so that your in-house staff can work on other areas of service. An AMC provides you with the experience and association know-how to assist with almost any facet of association work. AMC staff work with associations and their members on a day-to-day basis. AMCs have the tools, capabilities and experience to performing the smallest of tasks to the most detailed and arduous ones. AMCs will help provide seamless solutions to your organization’s needs.
Will outsourcing a project means hands-off for my association?
Even though your organization will be managed by an AMC, you will have just as much autonomy as you did as a stand alone. Your organization’s board will make the same important decisions it does now; however, you will have a great resource in your AMC to assess your needs and advise you on future projects and strategic planning. From your Web site to bank accounts to vendor contracts to business cards and phone numbers, Bostrom will be dedicated to serving on behalf of your organization in all that we do.
How are associations managed?
Associations are usually managed in one of three ways:
- By volunteers who spend personal time running the organization
- By a full-time staff that is hired, paid, and managed by the organization’s volunteer leaders
- By an Association Management Company
The first two options have obvious limits in terms of the time and resources that can be dedicated to helping an organization succeed. In the first, volunteers have limited time to dedicate to the organization and usually end up spending a large amount of time on basic operations. In the second, while staff handles operations, volunteers end up spending a large amount of time managing human resource issues like staff performance and pay, financial issues like expenses, benefits, rent, and legal issues such as insurance coverage, vendor contracts, and liability. The third model, the AMC model, offers organizations the best way to get the greatest value from their investment of volunteer time and resources.
Additionally, association managers must also be familiar with laws and regulations that pertain only to associations. To attain the knowledge needed to effectively operate in association management, its practitioners may choose to pursue the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation. This qualification may be obtained via the ASAE, The American Society of Association Executives.
Bostrom is also recognized as an accredited AMC with the AMC Institute. The AMC Institute members include more than180 association management companies that manage 1,800 associations full-time and nearly 900 on a project basis.
What benefits do AMCs provide?
- AMCs are usually owned/operated by former or current association executives
- Owners and key personnel are very familiar with the challenges of association management
- AMCs have staff who are expert in niche areas and usually have more experience in their given field than the candidates associations could hire on their own
- AMCs can provide associations the expertise they need only when they need it based on the concept of shared resources
- The cost of this experienced support is more affordable for associations because personnel costs are split across an AMC’s client base
- AMCs provide organizations economies of scale through shared office space, equipment, and supplies costs – resulting in stronger business negotiating positions
Who should consider hiring an AMC?
More and more associations are turning to an AMC for management because they can turn over the administrative hassle to someone else and they get more valuable expert support to help direct their strategic operations. An AMC can work with any association during any part of the association life cycle, from start-up to well-established organizations. Some examples of associations who can work with AMCs are:
- Small, volunteer-run organizations when the work becomes more than the volunteers can handle
- Medium-size organizations looking for more expert guidance in formalizing best practices and procedures
- Large organizations looking for administrative or other types of support to complement their existing staff
- Large organizations looking for a partner to handle a project
How is Bostrom's client approach different?
Bostrom is an agile management driven company – no two associations are alike and your management company must bring best practices and benchmarks along with a flexible and nimble approach to react to the pace of change occurring in today’s global, digital environment. Bostrom’s 80 year history of association management delivers expertise, solid infrastructure and an incredible staff with a focus on flexibility instead of providing cookie cutter solutions that may not be a right fit for your culture.
- Proven track record in association membership, meetings and financial growth
- Consulting services at your disposal
- Breadth and depth of our association and industry experience
- Best practices applied with flexibility and focus
- Efficient, operational excellence through intelligent application of technology
- Depth of knowledge and expertise with professional certification programs
- Employee professional development and leadership positions at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Association Forum of Chicagoland, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), Association Management Company Institute (AMCI)