Brussels is said to be host to more than 1,000 European associations or professional federations. A little over than 200 of them have at least three individuals engaged in lobbying (see link). With such staggering numbers, competition is rife. So, many associations are re-evaluating their financing model or their governance structure to increase their competitive edge and win new members. The renewal of the leadership of European institutions – Commission and Parliament – in 2019 is also an opportunity for many associations to re-think their strategy to better match the expectations of their constituencies, whether corporates or national associations.
Beyond the changes in European politics, associations mostly depend on how they are valued by their members. Perception matters. Membership dues often constitute a significant external cost for corporate members. As result, they want greater accountability for the money spent. If the return over investment is insufficient, they may decide to limit their expenses by reducing their memberships or internalise the costs by hiring an in-house full-time lobbyist based in Brussels. This competitive landscape has prompted several associations in recent months to approach Logos to advise them on what may be the best business model and governance structure to attract and retain members and drive up revenues.
If the return over investment is insufficient, they may decide to limit their expenses by reducing their memberships
In a benchmarking study that Logos conducted in August 2018 on associations and federations representing various industrial sectors (rail, pulp, ICT, health, etc), we drew the following conclusions on membership:
These strategic considerations are also impacting the association sector in Brussels. We are witnessing the rise of new industry coalitions that are no longer sector-specific and that are pushing well-established traditional associations to re-think their membership strategy. Associations embrace a multi-dimensional approach which brings together the industrial, the environmental and the digital challenges.