Working with trade association volunteers

Volunteers play a vital role in the success of trade associations, membership organisations and charities. According to Volunteers’ Week the estimated annual value of volunteers helping charities alone is £22.6bn.

Here at The Association Management Company we work with a significant number of volunteers on committees, working groups and boards.

For one of our clients, we calculated that volunteers provided around 3,000 hours of support per annum. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a huge benefit to the association, its members and people like us managing the organisation.

Volunteers provide the relevant expertise and experience to help guide and, in some cases, deliver new initiatives to aid development. The roles and functions of committees we work with are defined by a clear set of terms of reference developed by us.  

Our approach is simple. We want to ensure valuable volunteer time is used to its best effect and we can see it from both sides, because our whole team are volunteers with professional membership bodies, clubs and charities too.

We make sure the day-to-day running of a trade association is done right, on time and on budget. After all, we are an association management company and it’s our responsibility to provide the expertise, experience and support to manage associations. The last thing a volunteer wants to be doing is managing the detail of the association.

Take one of our client’s exhibitions as an example. The event is held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and attracts more than 70 exhibitors, 25 speakers and 3,500 visitors. This award-winning exhibition was overseen and directed by four volunteers entirely by virtual meetings with us doing all of the organising and delivery.

For each meeting we produce detailed reports which included a breakdown of the tasks completed and a concise summary of the decisions that needed volunteer input. Actions in-between meetings included liaising with the venue and contractors, selling exhibition space and promoting the event via a range of communication channels.

To find out more about our experience with events, click here.

Typically, as a principle for all meetings, we send supporting documentation well in advance to allow volunteers time to digest reports and to reduce the burden on volunteer time, we often produce these reports too.

In addition, to ensure effective use of volunteer time we:

  • Publish meetings dates well in advance – usually for the whole year
  • Try and meet virtually wherever possible – travel time is dead time!
  • Provide timed agendas so each topic has a defined time limit and with a definite finish time for the meeting
  • Make sure volunteers have everything they need well in advance of the meeting
  • Ensure minutes are produced quickly
  • Produce action points and ensure these are regularly followed up

To find out more about how we help trade associations with meeting management, click here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our solutions and services we would be delighted to hear from you. Call us on 01379 788032 or email