Doctors join the Australian Medical Association to keep themselves informed about the big and small issues that affect their profession, while accountants join the Certified Practising Accountants as their representative body for the same reasons. In the outdoor industry, Outdoors NSW & ACT is the professional representative body for outdoor leaders, professionals, and businesses in NSW & the ACT. Similar to the AMA and CPA, Outdoors NSW & ACT keeps its members updated on opportunities, issues, and threats to the industry.
Often, when the outdoor industry is reminded that they should be a member of their peak body, the discussion reverts to ‘what do I get for my money?’. However, those who renew their membership never ask that question as they have seen first-hand where their money is invested and how they have benefited. Having your peak body behind you is as important as having your accountant or insurance broker. They understand your business and can guide you through challenges and provide opportunities. Sometimes, you won't know when you need them the most, until you do.
Associations work similarly and some have more resources than others. However, the size of the membership is often an indicator of the amount of pooling of funds to provide more resources for members. This means that with more members, current members get more benefits for their investment. It is important to remember that associations are always not-for-profit and invest income and profits back into the industry, so all profits go back to building more membership benefits.
Joining an industry association can provide many benefits, both for personal and professional development, as well as for your business. Industry associations provide a platform for networking with other professionals in your field, offer professional development programs and resources, provide industry updates, advocate on behalf of their members, and enhance personal and business branding and visibility. Joining an industry association can be a great way to stay connected and engaged in your industry.
In the outdoor industry, we are incredibly unique as an emerging industry, full of passionate people. This characteristic cannot be ignored, as it has the ability to drive knowledge and information if done in a professional way. It can help shift boundaries for improvements and better conditions for an industry. Therefore, it is more important that the participants of the industry support the association as active or passive members if we are truly going to take this industry to a mature, professional level.
In Outdoors NSW & ACT, 93% of our funds go to resources and programs for our members, while the remaining expenses ensure we are compliant, well-governed, and remain as an entity as a key driver for industry growth and development. In 2022, the organisation had a turnover over $½ million, which went into advocacy, events, connections and support, programs for members to be part of, and continual research and relevant information for the industry, then distributed to the membership to keep them informed. It is a great value for a small business at $500 per year.