Management Models

Four basic options are available to manage non-profit organizations:

  • Member Volunteers
  • Employed Staff
  • AMC-Managed
  • AMC-Supported

The following table summarizes strengths and challenges of each option.




Member Volunteers

  • Strong commitment to organization
  • Understand organization's mission
  • Lower direct costs
  • Limited time availability
  • Not experts at nonprofit organization management and operations
  • Leadership turnover creates inconsistencies
  • Potential for conflicts of interest

Employed Staff

  • 100% "ownership" of all paid staff and association resources
  • Good opportunity for staff continuity
  • High overhead costs and long-term commitments (e.g. office space, equipment, operating systems, furniture)
  • Possible challenges in staffing key positions given competitive compensation costs for highly qualified, full-time staff
  • Risks associated with being an employer
  • Requires more leadership time on administrative, operational functions


  • Experts in association management, operations, including accredited operations for some AMCs
  • Lower overhead
  • Expertise in multiple disciplines
  • Flexible staffing in times of growth or downsizing
  • Eliminates many typical legal risks associated with employee management
  • Easily accessible knowledge, experience from other associations
  • Continuity
  • Associations sometimes outgrow their AMC's capabilities
  • Specific industry knowledge/expertise sometimes must be developed or acquired


  • Understand the nonprofit environment, dynamics
  • Cost effective extension, enhancement of staff expertise, capabilities
  • Depth and breadth of staff experience allows AMCs to plug in quickly to a project
  • Scope of work and mutual expectations must be clearly defined and stated