The Largest Membership Organizations In The US

The Largest Membership Organizations In The US

The Largest Membership Organizations In The US

Inclind Writer | 2024-02-20

Membership organizations play an important role in the United States. They can serve a variety of functions, from connecting people with the same hobby to bringing people together who share a common profession. These membership organizations typically have websites that members can access for information, benefits, and more.

Some of the biggest membership organizations in the United States are household names, like the ACLU and AAA. There are also a number of professional organizations with massive numbers, like the National Association of Realtors. Each of these groups has a well-designed website that helps guide people towards membership.

At Inclind, we have specific experience helping membership organizations design and develop beautiful, functional websites. We understand that membership orgs have different needs than many other types of entities. Our range of services  - including custom web design - is designed to help you achieve your goals as a group. Reach out today to talk to a member of our award-winning design and development team about your membership organization website.

What Is a Membership Organization?

A membership organization is any type of business or professional association that allows people to join in exchange for access to certain benefits. Typically, membership requires paying dues of some sort. The benefits can be as simple as accessing a community of like-minded individuals, fellow professionals, or a specific service.

Generally, the goal of a membership organization is a place for people with the same interests to come together. This could be for the purpose of sharing their interest in a particular activity, profession, or mission or even to achieve a broader goal (such as enacting legislation).

Membership organizations have benefits for both members and the entity itself. Having dues-paying members makes it easier for the organization to have a stable source of membership. It also empowers the organization to unite people with a common purpose. This can greatly aid the group's ability to achieve its mission.

For example, the American Medical Association (AMA) is a membership organization of physicians and surgeons. In recent years, the AMA has pushed back on efforts to expand the role of pharmacists in the healthcare system, such as by giving vaccines. A dues-paying membership allowed the AMA to fund these lobbying efforts and mobilize its members to support their work.

There are various types of membership organizations, including:

  • Professional associations that offer members resources and networking opportunities focused on a specific industry or career path.
  • Clubs and social groups offer a way for people with similar hobbies or activities to find like-minded people. These organizations often strive for engagement with discussions, meetings, and planned events.
  • Advocacy groups have a specific mission in mind and bring together people who share the same ideals. Members often don’t get a tangible benefit beyond knowing that they are participating in something to further an important cause.
  • Economic development groups help to promote and assist regional businesses. Members of these groups often benefit from various resources and networking opportunities.

Each membership group has a different structure. While some - particular social groups - offer free membership, many require the payment of dues. This could be in the form of a one-time fee or recurring dues. Some membership organizations have a tiered membership, with access to higher levels of benefits based on membership levels.

Handling subscriptions or dues can be challenging for a membership organization, particularly with tiered memberships. Having a well-designed website can make it easier to collect member information and dues and ensure that certain areas of a website are only available to verified members. Reach out to Inclind to learn more about custom integrations and other website development services that we can use to make your membership organization site as effective as possible.

What Are the Biggest Membership Organizations in the United States?

As an initial matter, it’s important to understand that there isn’t a definitive ranking of the biggest membership organizations in the United States. There are many different types of member organizations, so it is challenging to do an apples-to-apples comparison. In addition, some membership organizations don’t release information on their membership numbers.

That being said, there are some metrics available online for the organizations that most Americans know about - like the AARP and the NRA. Read on to learn more about each of these massive member organizations.

American Association of Retired People (AARP)

The AARP is a membership organization for people aged 50 and older in the United States. Its mission is to make life better for older people. It serves over 38 million members through legislative advocacy, community services, research, and education.

AARP’s membership includes 52% of Americans aged 50 and older. It uses a variety of tactics to attract and retain members, including direct mail, online advertising, and exclusive discounts.

American Automobile Association (AAA)

AAA is an auto club that provides travel, financial, insurance, and emergency road services. Its membership stands at 59 million members, with a renewal rate of 88%.

AAA offers numerous benefits to its members. One of its key benefits - emergency road services - is probably its most attractive. Branches of AAA throughout the U.S. also provide related services, such as title transfer and notarization.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU is a nationwide litigation and lobbying organization that has more than 4 million members, activists, and supporters. Its goal is to preserve individual rights and liberties as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It engages in both lobbying as well as legal assistance.

Membership benefits include a card and ACLU swag. Most people join the organization because they believe in its mission.

National Education Association (NEA)

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union in the United States. It has more than 3 million members, including public school teachers, faculty and staff at colleges and universities, and students preparing to become educators. Its primary function is as a labor union, although it also participates in political lobbying.

The NEA offers various benefits, including discounts, travel and vacation packages, insurance, and professional resources. It also represents members in collective bargaining.

National Association of Realtors (NAR)

The National Association of Realtors, or NAR, is the largest trade association in the United States. It has more than 1.5 million members, all of whom play some role in the real estate industry. It serves as a professional networking group as well as a lobbying organization.

Member benefits for the National Association of Realtors include access to a federal credit union, insurance, free online repair estimates, travel and automotive deals, and various financial services.

National Rifle Association (NRA)

The NRA has long been famed for its political lobbying - which has often been controversial. In recent years, its membership numbers have dropped significantly to 4.3 million. This may be due to scandals related to its executives or simply less of an interest in the group itself, given the increase in gun violence in the United States.

The NRA offers several member benefits, including a subscription to one of its magazines, a membership card, and a NRA decal. Its work largely includes lobbying against gun control measures.

Grow Your Membership Organization with Inclind

Let’s face it - most membership organizations won’t ever have millions of members. That being said, there are still steps that you can take to increase your organization’s membership. One of the best places to start is with a well-designed membership that makes it clear why people should join and as easy as possible for them to start the process.

At Inclind, we work with membership organizations to help them build a website that truly meets their needs.  We offer a full range of website design and development services, including WordPress and Drupal website development, accessibility audits, and ongoing website support and maintenance. Our team has in-depth experience with membership sites and can advise you on best practices for your organization based on your goals.

We are always here to chat with you if you'd like to know more about our web design, development, and support services. You can fill out our online contact form or hit the live chat button to speak to one of our experts about your membership website.

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