Using Your Trade Association to Help Unemployed Members

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For millions of Americans, the jobs they relied on disappeared when COVID-19 entered the United States. It’s unclear when (or sometimes if) those jobs will return.

As of April 2020, the official unemployment rate per the Bureau of Labor Statistics stood at 14.7 percent. Charts of unemployment levels look like ski jumps with a plateau on one side and a mountain on the other.

A trade association is a critical partner for the unemployed. The resources you provide, and the support you deliver, could help members to find the work they need. And the work you do behind the scenes could protect your industry as a whole from future decline.

Here are five ways to use your trade association to help the unemployed.

1. Waive Your Fees

Most trade associations live and die by membership dues. Predictable funds keep your doors open to new and old members alike. Right now, some people may not have the funds to keep their membership current.

The current unemployment market is unusual, and some people make more money now than they did while working. The $600-per-week supplement approved by Congress is a big bonus to some workers. In fact, about 68 percent of the unemployed have benefits that are bigger than their lost earnings.

Without a job, though, people face added fees. Some must cover their own health care expenses. Others have family members who need financial help.

Waiving trade association fees during the pandemic ensures that your membership rolls stay strong. Your members won’t forget your loyalty to them during this unusual time. When the crisis passes, you could have a vibrant membership list that will stay with you forever.

Look to businesses to replace revenue. For example, offer video sponsorships to your major supporters. Add a company logo to the video, or include a pre-roll ad that talks up what the company does and why it matters. These advertising opportunities could generate a lot of excitement, and you could raise enough to stay afloat during the crisis.

2. Create a Job Board

Before the coronavirus hit, experts said there were enough jobs for everyone who wanted employment. A lot has changed. Experts say that unemployment rates could hit 25 percent due to COVID-19.

Those numbers could shift rapidly when another crisis hits. After a major storm, for example, homeowners scramble to find qualified contractors and electricians to make needed repairs. Almost every industry has an inflection point like this, and they all offer opportunity.

A trade association job board connects people who need work with companies hiring now. Hire a contractor to scrape listings from sites like Craigslist, or accept submissions directly. Reach out to major companies, and offer them the opportunity to post the very first job.

Boost engagement with your job board with:

  • Featured jobs. Entice companies to pay a fee to be at the top of search results.
  • Testimonials. Ask members to share their stories of finding the perfect job with your board. Video makes an exceptional storytelling tool.
  • Statistics. Share how many jobs you’ve posted, and update with the number of spots you’ve helped to fill.

3. Hold Timely Training Sessions

Chances are, you already offer learning opportunities. Most trade associations do. Your community may appreciate an entirely new type of content during this unusual time.

Consider classes that help your community:

  • Sign up for unemployment.
  • Brush up a resume.
  • Build a LinkedIn profile.
  • Buy health insurance.

Market your traditional, industry-specific classes too. Plenty of companies don’t offer educational opportunities for their employees. They worry people will take their newfound skills and walk away with them.

Dust off your most popular class, and ask a former student to record a testimonial about the lessons. That could drive even more students to learn about what you’re offering online.

4. Update Your Community

Trade associations are vital resources in good times. In bad times, you can be critical hubs of data.

Your community is interested in everything that impacts your industry. And they might appreciate wider knowledge too.

For example, experts say states differ in lockdown interpretations. Some might offer unemployment benefits after lockdown rules lift. Others won’t.

Dig deep into your community, and look for the experts. Ask people to write blog posts, host webinars, or otherwise keep your members abreast of current developments. Hosts can use video to tease their topics to boost excitement too.

5. Advocate for Change

Experts say members join trade associations to gain influence. The work you do helps amplify their voices and ensure they are represented in important conversations. During turbulent times, that’s critical.

If you’re already doing advocacy work, keep your community involved via:

  • Surveys. Ensure that you know about the issues that matter most to them. Gather hard data you can share with the powerful.
  • Video. Ask a member to talk about the work you’ve done and how it’s changed that person’s life.
  • Blog posts. Write posts about the work you’re doing and why it matters.
  • Social media. Share progress reports with your community, and ask them to comment with their advocacy wish list.
  • Profiles. Do you have a dedicated team that lobbies on behalf of your industry? Tell your community what makes these professionals so special.

Your work won’t make the current pandemic crisis pass any sooner, but you could help to empower those feeling helpless and hopeless as job losses mount. Your work could ensure that your industry is included in critical conversations.

How Gather Voices Can Help

User-generated content is powerful, but it’s not always easy to collect. Gather Voices makes that process easy.

Entice your members to shoot short videos on their smartphones. Use our tools to edit, enhance, and share that content with the wider world. Embed the videos anywhere, including your website, and watch your influence grow.

Want to learn more? Request a demo using the form below.


The Employment Situation, April 2020. (May 2020). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many Americans Are Getting More Money From Unemployment Than They Were From Their Jobs. (May 2020). Five Thirty Eight.

The Skilled Tradesman Shortage: 2019 Edition. Construction Financial Management Association.

Unemployment Rate Could Hit 25 Percent, Rivaling Great Depression, Goldman Sachs Predicts. (May 2020). CBS News.

Labor Shortage Is Creating Challenges to Finding Qualified Contractors for Home Repairs. (April 2018). The Washington Post.

Study: Senior Unemployment Rates in US Have Skyrocketed During COVID-19 Pandemic. (May 2020). Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The Benefits of Employee Continuing Education Programs for Businesses and How to Start Your Own. (July 2018). Training.

Can Unemployed Workers Collect Benefits in Re-Opened States? It’s a Gray Area. (April 2020). CNBC.

Top 8 Benefits of Membership in a Trade Association. Subcontractor’s Association of Northeast Ohio.

Invest in Yourself and Trade Associations. (November 2013). Forbes.

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