Companies spent $572 million on sponsorship with associations/member organizations in 2013, up 4 percent from the previous years, according to IEG, a sponsorship consultant and research company based in Chicago.

The good news is that after several years of 3 percent increases, a 4 percent hike is welcome sign, says Stacey Goldberg, vice president, client leadership at IEG. The bad news is that associations lag the overall sponsorship market, which jumped 5.5 percent in 2013. “Associations are getting more savvy in what they are offering companies,” she says, like multiple touch points throughout the year, digital opportunities, and ways to interact with attendees. 

“Overall, I think associations are moving in the right direction, but we still need to see more of that ‘wow’ factor,” adds Goldberg. “This is an untapped area,” she adds. “There are huge sponsorship opportunities to provide an entry point to such a specific, committed, engaged audience as association membership. They could make up more of that sponsorship piece of the pie if they are able to think more outside the box.”