Advocacy & Political Action

Advocacy & Political Action

Association Forum serves as Chicago associations’ voice in Springfield, the city of Chicago as well as Washington, D.C.


Public Policy Guiding Principles for Setting Legislative and Regulatory Priorities

The Association Forum focuses action on legislative or regulatory matters that directly affect or may directly affect a majority of associations based on the principles elucidated below:


1. Promoting Freedom of Association Practice and Good Governance

A. Associations are the best venue for setting high standards of best practices. The association profession and the competitive nature of the American economy encourage, stimulate and demand best practices in association governance and management. Additional government regulation of associations, in general, should be adopted only as a last resort and with the involvement of the profession. Abuses are a distinct exception in nonprofit governance and normally should be addressed by more effective use of existing audit and enforcement practices.

B. Laws and regulations should not impede a vibrant association community. Associations and other nonprofit membership organizations must use member funds carefully in the normal course of business, and most operate on a very lean and efficient basis. The Association Forum opposes public policies that add additional costs to association operations without providing demonstrable additional benefits or value to members and society. The Association Forum supports governmental laws and policies that provide clear, sensible, not unreasonably restrictive guidance to not-for-profit associations in their operations and practice, in order to encourage a vibrant and innovative association community that decreases governmental dependency and creates individual initiative in professional and business environments.

C. Volunteerism should be promoted and protected. Association and other membership organizations rely on and accomplish their missions most effectively through the active involvement of volunteers in governance and programming. Public policy should encourage volunteerism and, in particular, should not expose volunteers to unwarranted liability.

D. Informational resources of associations should be promoted, not hindered. A primary function for associations is the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about an industry or profession. Therefore public policy should in no way impede the free flow of information from an association to its members and industry/profession, including that notifying these parties of meetings and publications through which the information is disseminated.

The Association Forum will work to ensure that the state's Not-for-Profit Incorporation Act, employment laws, lobbying and lobbying registration regulations, tort laws, and other applicable laws and regulations reflect these principles.


    2. Promoting Growth of the Association Community in Chicagoland

    A. Associations provide economic and social benefits to Chicagoland. Public policy should encourage the continued growth of associations, related suppliers, and other non-profit organizations in the Chicago Metro area and Illinois, as the pool of association professional expertise/talent in the area is an important economic resource for the region. Associations also have a tremendous impact on the betterment of society, pursuing innovative solutions and obviating many burdens that would otherwise fall upon the government.

    B. Public policies should promote the location and operations of associations in the Chicagoland area, including the establishment and/or maintenance of headquarters offices and the offering of association meetings and/or trade shows.

    This principle reflects the need for:

    • a contemporary and sensible state Non-for-Profit Incorporation Act;
    • state, local and county hotel/motel taxes that are at or below most other metropolitan areas that Chicagoland competes with for convention and tourism business;
    • efforts to educate, recruit, and retain associations in Chicagoland;
    • non-taxation of associations beyond reasonable property and sales taxes and existing taxation of unrelated business income;
    • an effective and contemporary metropolitan transportation infrastructure;
    • a vibrant and effective Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.

    3. Promoting the Above Principles at the National Level

    Association Forum will fully support efforts on federal issues in Washington, D.C. undertaken by the American Society of Association Executives unless Association Forum's Board of Directors differs with a specific ASAE position.


    One Goal, One Community

    For more information on association industry advocacy efforts at the national level, please visit the Power of A news feed:


    Discover how the power of associations is the power of America in this infographic.  

    Contact Your Elected Officials

    The best way for Association Forum members to support Chicago associations in Springfield, Chicago and on Capitol Hill is to write to their elected officials, telling them how important associations in Chicago are to the local, state, national and global economy.