Occasionally we are asked if NPAworldwide is an association and if not, what is the difference between recruitment associations and recruitment networks. On the surface, they may seem interchangeable since both are membership organizations for a specific niche.
In its simplest terms, an association is a group of people banded together for a common purpose. Most associations are non-profit. In the United States, an “official” association typically must have some organizational documents. Associations that wish to be tax-exempt–501(c)(3)–must meet specific criteria to qualify. An association is not truly “owned” the way a for-profit venture is, so that is one key difference between recruitment associations and recruitment networks.
Recruitment networks can be for-profit or, like NPAworldwide, taxable nonprofits. They can have many different ownership structures from a sole proprietorship to a partnership to a corporate structure. NPAworldwide is a member-owned cooperative, which is a unique ownership model. A co-op is member-owned and member-governed. Members pool their resources to achieve economic benefits and results that cannot be achieved on an individual basis.
Many associations also offer lobbying/legislative support to advance the group’s interests. Many offer education or professional credentialing as well. So while recruitment associations focus on important issues such as employment law and testing for professional certification, recruitment networks have a different purpose. Recruitment networks focus on creating and providing opportunities for connection between members. While they may offer formal rules and procedures governing member interaction, they typically do not participate in credentialing or legislative work. Recruitment networks may be quite formal or very loosely organized.
Either structure may charge membership dues or other fees. Depending on the ownership, the profits may benefit a single individual owner or the profits may be reinvested into the organization. Registration fees for meetings are frequently a significant revenue stream for recruitment associations; this may not be true in recruitment networks.
Do you belong to any recruitment associations or recruitment networks? What are the biggest differences you see between the two types of organizations? Leave a comment below!