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How To Set up a National Association ?

How to Finance the Activity

Despite the general perception that lobbyists are rich, with endless financial possibilities, truth is most of the associations are almost always on survival mode. However, please be reminded that is now you can get creative. With a lot of money everyone can do (almost) everything. Those who do with little money, are those who will stand out. Apart from the inspirational speech, how can you get money for your association?

Membership fees

Yes, of course, this is the first resource. But at the end of the day, only from the membership fees you might not be able to do much, especially if you are an association of professionals with membership fees in the range of Euro 100/year. Still, it is a good place to start with. And remember, all associations are based a lot on the members’ volunteer work


Indeed, trainings are the second used source of income for your association. Whether the members are the trainers, or you partner with professional trainers, you can get a good source of revenue

Other funding

If you can think of a good project you might maybe get European funds or gain funding from other financiers. Or organise events with sponsorships. Get creative, get entrepreneurial.

How to Manage an Association

There are not many ways to do the management of an association. You either hire someone or the members of the Board work voluntarily for the benefit of the community. In any case some of the professional services will have to be employed externally, usually the lawyer and the accountant.

Employed personnel

This is the best-case situation, when your association can afford hiring a Director or a Secretary General. This doesn’t happen often, but it happens, and we can only wish you have this opportunity. In this case the hired person should not only understand lobbying, but also understand the financial requirements and have administrative skills.


It’s not an easy task to manage an association, but at the end of the day it is rewarding. Although the Board and the President will never be so dedicated as a hired person, the time they allot must be sufficient to accomplish the goals and the strategy approved by the members.

Option for a National Association

Each country has its own particularities and might choose the most appropriate form ofsetting an association, from the membership stand of view. There is no good or wrong choice.

Explanation Benefits Challenges
Association of consultancies The members are agenciesand consultancies ✱ Fewer members to be managed
✱ Higher membership fees
It misses a large part of lobbying community – companies,NGOs, trade
Association of public affairs professionals/ lobbyists associations The members are individuals in the public affairs and lobbying profession coming from all the range of organisations It encompasses the entire range of public affairs professionals ✱ Low membership fees, which leads to potential budget issues
✱ More difficult to be managed, having many members
Association with mixed membership Formed of a mix of individuals and organisations It encompasses the entire range of public affairs professionals ✱ More difficult to be managed, having many members
✱ Difficult to keep members engaged

Plus to Have a National Association

We have already given you the examples of 5 national associations and their work. We shall recap some of the activities that are advisable to be undertaken by a lobbying association.


First and foremost, a lobbying association starts with a code of ethics, for the simple reason that ethics is our license to operate. There are many examples you can take from associations around the world, but there are other resources to be taken into consideration, such as OECD, Transparency International or Council of Europe. Language should not be a barrier any longer, as Google Translate can help us all. It is obvious that your association’s members should abide by the Code, but if it’s well done and promoted, other professionals and organisations can adhere to it. If you want to add credibility to it, you can develop it in cooperation with third party experts in ethics.


Trainings are a fantastic way to raise level of know-how amongst those who interact with decision makers. It is about the know-how which one can gather from professionals, in a time when lobbying is so much interconnected with the entire spectrum of communications. After all lobbying is communication. When it comes to ethics, trainings based on real life examples, is the best way to spread the positive vibe around lobbying. You can do it in live sessions or online.


Don’t avoid public debates. Moreover, provoke debates on lobbying. If in your society lobbying has a bad reputation, it is important to bring on surface the voices which criticize. If you can bring credible voices to support ethical lobbying, with examples from your country or even other countries, or EU, the outcome of the debates can’t be other than positive.


The education must take place also at the level of the press. From informal meetings with the press members, to interviews, press releases and press conferences, keeping in touch with the journalists is a great way that you are on top of things, when it comes to public discussions on lobbying.


A good way to spending your little money in the association is producing research papers. They can be focus on the state of lobbying in your country, perceptions on lobbying, how the lobbying should be regulated. They will become valuable materials when advocating for or against legislation on lobbying, as the case may arise.


Your association can become an important voice on good governance. You of all people know better how governance is conducted in your country. Every country has a variety of platforms debating on governance, whether they are private or public platforms.


Oh, yes, and don’t forget about the website and the social media. Go there, be active, and you will see a good return on your investment of time.