Associations by the Numbers

Advancing the Economy and Society

Associations make broad contributions to American life. They are an essential element of our national, state and local economies. They create jobs in every state. Their measurable economic benefits include more than 205,000 jobs for Americans and a total payroll of more than $18 billion. Beyond their direct economic impact, associations play a vital role to enrich communities and create positive change around the world.

  • The IRS recognized more than 60,000 trade and professional associations in 2020.
  • The IRS recognized approximately 1.3 million charitable and philanthropic organizations in 2020.
  • Associations employ more than 205,000 people.
  • Associations generate a payroll of more than $18 billion.
  • Nonprofit organizations’ share of GDP is over 5 percent.
  • Trade and professional associations generate $116 billion in revenue.
  • Nearly 63 million Americans volunteer through an association.


Associations encompass all industries; all professionals; all businesses; all companies


Associations employ more than 205,000 people

$18 Billion

Associations generate a payroll of more than $18 billion

9.7 Million

Associations are the #1 provider of post-college education and skills training, training 9.7 million adults each year

Advancing the Workforce

Each year, associations provide millions of American workers across every industry and state with critical post-college skills training required for professional success and career advancement. Associations proactively and purposefully create centralized training programs, certifications and standards to ensure individuals, industries and society-at-large benefit from a strong and vibrant workforce.

  • Of the 57 million adults in America who take formal work-related courses or training each year, 9.7 million receive that training from a professional association.
  • In total, associations account for more than 315,000 meetings held in the U.S. each year, with 59.5 million participants in attendance.
  • 88% of associations, regardless of type or size, report sponsoring an annual meeting or exhibition, with a median attendance of 803 registrants.
  • 52% of associations report holding other regularly scheduled meetings on specific topics throughout the year.

Source: IRS Data Book 2016; NAICS (North American Industry Classification System), U.S. Census Bureau