Sunday, March 30, 2014

4 Reasons Associations & Nonprofits Should Monitor Freelance Numbers

The stats in a FastCompany’s Leadership Now story headlined Why Everybody's Going Freelance caught my attention and should concern association executives and other association professionals.

The core numbers from the article:
  • 17 million Americans self-identified as independent workers – as in freelancers, temps, self-employed consultants. 
  • This May 2013 number is up 10% from 2011.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that the total number of independent workers is predicted to grow to 24 million in the next five years.
The new tendency to go independent is happening across demographics:
  • 36 percent are gen-Xers.
  • 33 percent are baby boomers.
  • 20 percent are millenials.
  • 11 percent are matures.
  • And equally male or female.

Four reasons why association executives should watch the number of freelancers?

  1. The trend may impact the number of potential candidates for open association staff positions and make it harder to find exceptional talent.
  2. The higher freelance numbers could impact association membership since dues and registration fees will be coming from the individual not his/her company budget. Paying for fees and expenses from one’s own pocket is much different than having your way paid. 
  3. More freelancers potential reduces the amount of volunteers for boards, committees and the like. (When a salaried employee volunteers, he/she still gets a paycheck; but when a freelancer volunteers, it takes time away from potential billable hours thus reducing his/her income.)
  4. Meanwhile, more freelancers offer associations many choices for outsourced work.
As a result, these trends in the workforce are important data for association executives to monitor.

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