ThirdSector, published quarterly by Great Southern Press, is the official publication of the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) and is the magazine for Australia's not-for-profit managers and their industry and professional associations, member benefit organisations and charities.
What is the Third Sector?
There are three distinct sectors in Australia – the public sector (government), private sector (for-profit) and the not-for-profit sector.
Australia’s not-for-profit sector can be divided broadly into three groupings: professional and industry associations (e.g. The Australian Medical Association), member benefit organisations (e.g. Bicycle Victoria) and charities (e.g. The National Stroke Foundation).
The not-for-profit sector in Australia is highly influential with as much as 65 per cent of the population belonging to some type of not-for-profit organisation. Australia’s not-for-profit sector also contributes at least $29.6 billion or 4.7 per cent to Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) making it one of our largest ‘industries’.
Source: Federal Government Report, January 2005
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What Keeps You ‘Up at Night’? – Results of the 2012 AuSAE Member Survey
Delegates to last year’s Leaders’ Symposium in Canberra were asked what they would like to know from the 2012 AuSAE Member Survey. “What keeps our members up at night!” was the thundering response. With the results now in, AuSAE has a wealth of information about what promotes sleeplessness among Australasia’s most senior association leaders.
The survey, which was donated by research and strategy consultancy THINK: Insight & Advice, was conducted online between January 24th and February 8th. With the added incentive of a chance to win an iPad2, donated by Strategic Management Solutions, the response rate was boosted to 40.8%. “We’re delighted with the response to this year’s survey and we want to thank our business partners for making it a reality. We need good information to make good decisions,” said AuSAE President, Simon Pryor.
Membership and revenue issues closely linked
“Membership and revenue issues are closely linked for AuSAE members” commented Randall Pearce, Managing Director of THINK: Insight & Advice. “It makes sense that this pair of issues would preoccupy AuSAE members since nearly two thirds report that they work for membership-based associations (33% report working for a Trade Association where members are companies or organisations and a further 30% reporting that they work for a professional body whose members are individual professionals),” according to Pearce. “Revenues depend on membership numbers; less than half a percent of members report ‘other trading operations’ as a key activity that could offset a drop in membership revenue.”
Advocacy, governance and communications comprised a second cluster of issues which, while not insomnia-inducing, are nonetheless key concerns. Each three of these issues was deemed to be in the top-five issues but their order was determined by their ranking by members. Advocacy nudged ahead of governance issues because it was rated highly as both a number one and number two issue of concern.
Communications issues and issues relating to working with other associations within federated structures occupied the third tier of issues.
AuSAE is the association for Senior Executives
The survey results paint a picture of AuSAE as the membership to hold for senior association executives in Australia and New Zealand. Three quarters (74%) of respondents indicated that they hold the ‘head staff position reporting to the board.’ A further 16% reported that they work as a ‘function head reporting to the CEO.’ Seven in ten have worked in the not-for-profit sector for more than 10 years (37% of respondents said that they have twenty plus years of experience with a further 34% saying they had worked in the sector between ten and twenty years).
“AuSAE members appear to be incredibly loyal,” said Pearce, noting that 41% of members reported that they ‘hold no other memberships other than AuSAE’. 54% of respondents have been members for more than five years (29% say they have been members for five to ten years and 25% report that they have maintained their membership for more than 10 years). “That’s not to say that AuSAE’s membership is static, quite the opposite,” according to Pearce. “45% of respondents say that they have joined within the last five years indicating that AuSAE continues to attract new members,” he said.
The importance of AuSAE as an information-sharing and networking organisation was underlined by the fact 62% of respondents reported that their organisation employees ten or fewer full-time equivalent employees, including 14% who said they are the sole employee of the organisation. Pearce commented, “Clearly, AuSAE is an important point of connection for association executives who are looking to share their experience and to learn from others.”
Next Issue – Who do you think you are?
In the next issue of Third Sector, watch out for the second article on the AuSAE member survey results, “Who do you think you are?” which will explore questions of professional identity, training and accreditation