We know there is going to be a General Election in the next nine months, we just don’t know when. It certainly won’t be 2 May. Did Jeremy Hunt hint at October? Or would the Prime Minister prefer mid-November? Whatever happens, it must be before 28 January 2025.

With the Election moving ever closer, there is speculation over what might be in the parties’ manifestos. Their degree of preparedness varies widely:

· The Conservatives’ manifesto usually emerges close to the election campaign itself through a “behind closed doors” process. Not surprisingly, the published policies on the party website focus on the current government.

· The process for drawing up the Labour Party manifesto is laid down in the party rulebook, based on National Policy Forum position papers approved by its Conference. Apparently, the manifesto policies were locked down in February in readiness for an early Election.

· The Liberal Democrats have published a pre-manifesto paper, which will be approved by conference.

· The Green Party manifesto will reflect its political programme set out on its website.

· The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru both have detailed policy positions drawn from their 2021 national election manifestos.

· Reform UK has published “Our contract with you” as a working draft for comments, challenges and queries, which they will finalise later in the year.

Many trade associations will be thinking about producing a manifesto in some form for the Election. Some are already well ahead of the game, and it’s worth looking at these to highlight best practice and illustrate what to think about if you are considering putting together a manifesto for your own association.

What is your objective?

Even if your intention is simply to re-package your existing policy positions, don’t neglect the opportunity to set out your positive vision for your sector. This should link to your association’s overall strategy. While the focus may be on the Election, take the opportunity to think beyond it to set out your agenda for the whole Parliament. The British Retail Consortium’s manifesto Accelerating Investment in the Everywhere Economy does just this, breaking each policy area down into three elements:

· Context and background, with some key facts and statistics

· Policy Briefing – Where are we now? Where do we want to get to?

· How do we get there?

It also includes a brilliant infographic as a clear, succinct summary of the main policy proposals. Elsewhere, the pledge-card style five-point summary is well-established and widely used. Logistics UK takes it one step further, adding an action plan for the first 100 days of a new government.

Stronger with evidence and data

Take the chance to highlight the wider impact of what you are proposing to the economy and community as much as the benefits to your sector. If you can, include an estimate of whether your

policies would be fiscally neutral for the new government, or even revenue-positive. If your proposals are going to cost the Government money, show how much and how the policy benefits achieved will outweigh the cost. Women’s Aid’s manifesto A Whole System Response to Domestic Abuse cites extensive research, much of it produced by its in-house team or working with external partners, to back up the case for its policy proposals. The Agricultural Industries Confederation manifesto includes a call for “a comprehensive, cohesive UK Government approach to food security and land use”, with a QR code linking to an independent report, “Powering Productivity for Sustainable Food Security” by Dr Marcus Bellett-Travers of Anglia Ruskin University

Reflect the political context

Where possible, you should try to reflect the language of the current debate. It can be difficult to judge what that might be at this stage, but it is important to have an eye to it. However, as the terms of the debate become clearer, certain phrases will be seen as targeted to one party or another, and so risk a reaction from opponents.

Think about how to use it

The manifesto should become the basis of your engagement with political parties over the next year and beyond, so it is worth giving some thought as to how best to use and communicate it. It makes sense to think about multiple formats, adapting to the range of channels now available. You should make sure that at least one of these is a format which is easy for members to use when they engage with local candidates. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s manifesto includes a pledge form to encourage members to ask candidates to sign and post online to show support.

Remember the things others don’t think about

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when setting out your own best case. Nevertheless, it is worth bearing in mind what others will be calling for in relation to the issues you are raising. You probably know who your allies are and how you might be able to strengthen your call by aligning with them. Do you know the counter-arguments to what you want? How do you address them? Can you explain why your policy positions are preferable? A government that adopts your policies will expect you to be able to support them against any opposition, so you should ensure you are prepared.

Richard Lambert

Senior consultant

Pragmatix Advisory Limited

A collaboration between TAF, FSB and CBI has published a 2024 list of inspirational women in trade associations to coincide with International Women’s Day


The list was compiled from over 200 nominations from the sector and the selection panel had the unenviable task of selecting the 100 women that make up the 2024 powerlist.

Nicola Bates, Chair of the Selection Panel and CEO of WineGB said:

“In this second year of judging we continue to be impressed by the achievements of the top 100 UK women in the powerlist. It is also right that we have extend the recognition with a new category promoting the work of volunteers; given that they are often leading their business and their sector at the same time the respect is enormous as without their work trade associations wouldn’t have the impact they do in supporting UK Plc. It is tremendous that we pause and reflect on their impact – congratulations to all on the list. We should also acknowledge the hard work of the wider nomination pool who while not on the list made the choice incredibly difficult given your extent of work.”

CBI Chief Executive Rain Newton-Smith said:

“I am delighted to bring the CBI, FSB and TAF together to champion the role of women in trade associations, celebrate their achievements and encourage the next generation of women into the association sector.”

FSB Chief Executive Julie Lilley said:

“This powerlist is a testament to the women who make a real difference to trade associations and the industries they represent. Honouring them on International Women’s Day (IWD) is an important way to pave the way for the next generation of female leaders.”

Julia Garvey, Vice Chair of TAF said:

“It was an honour to judge this year’s WITA list and to discover more about the outstanding women leaders within our industry. I hope this list shines a light on their achievements and provides the next generation with the inspiration and aspiration to follow in their footsteps.”

Helping your association navigate the education and skills landscape

A skilled workforce is at the heart of every successful association and business, and attracting and developing the right workforce can be a challenge.

Getting involved with the education and skills system can be part of the solution, even for small associations. Recruitment for example, becomes streamlined because you’ve engaged early with the next generation of talent. And your existing workforce can gain from flexible upskilling or reskilling options revealing new opportunities for your association to grow.  

That said, we know that education and skills in England has changed and can be complex to understand, which is where Education Landscape: A guide for Employers comes in.

Did you know:

  • Small and medium sized businesses make up 99% of registered businesses in the UK
  • TAFs 2023 benchmarking survey recorded 47% of associations as being either small or very small associations
  • 4 out of 5 small and medium sized businesses have recruitment concerns, and more than half fear there is a lack of candidates with the right knowledge and skills

A national commitment to small associations and small businesses

We’re committed to helping trade associations find the education and skills landscape easier to navigate. That’s why we’re sharing Education landscape: A Guide for Employers, which has been developed in partnership with organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses, CBI, British Chamber of Commerce, and IoD to help associations across England. The Guide includes a clear, short overview of the education and landscape system, and concise information about the education and skills opportunities that associations and businesses can engage with, and the benefits these offer. There are links to further information for the options you want to prioritise. 

The Education Landscape has already proven successful with TAF Member: the Electrical Contractors’ Association, who share their experience below:

Case Study: Electrical Contractors’ Association and the Education Landscape

“Education Landscape approached me at a TAF event to offer help to our Members to navigate the plethora of new courses and qualifications. It is particularly important for our SME Members to have access to up to date information about training courses to guide them when recruiting for their business needs.”

Did you know?

‘Education Landscape: A Guide for Employers’ is adaptable and can be personalised for your own association – see below:

Download the Education Landscape: A Guide for Employers

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Jenifer Burden, Gatsby Director of Programmes explains, “Whether it’s careers fairs, industry placements for older students, apprenticeships, or shorter programmes to support upskilling for employees, the need for education, businesses and associations to collaborate has never been stronger. For a smaller business or association however, the breadth and variety of the opportunities can be hard to keep up with, especially for those without dedicated Human Resources or Learning and Development teams. 

“This is why we are working with trusted business support organisations to provide small businesses and associations with a clear starting point. The Education Landscape guide explains how SMEs and smaller associations can get involved with education and skills and shares the benefits that small business owners have experienced. 

“By being involved, business support organisations are working closely with SMEs, widening the career opportunities for young people and nurturing the critical role businesses and associations play in building and developing their skilled workforce.” 

Find out more about how the Guide can benefit you at our TAF members webinar – “How Associations Can Meet The Future Skills Challenge“. Hear from associations who have already reaped the benefits of the Education Landscape, and find out how you can utilise these resources to meet the future skills challenge.

To join, register here

Date: 20/03/24
Time: 09:30-10:30

A trade association’s central mission is to help its members, so it is no surprise that associations have had to develop more sophisticated approaches to risk and resilience.

Managing risk should be a key part of your organisational strategy and it can be hard to know where to start, this collaborative report between TAF and our partners at Partners&, a leading insurance advisory business, explores how associations approach risk and resilience in their own operations, and the steps to take to protect your association from risk.

Read the full report here:

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By Nathan Coyne, Managing Director at PoliMapper

Change is coming to Westminster.

You could argue that, with a general election just around the corner, it is only to be expected.

But what’s of particular interest with this general election is the scale of potential change.

This is due to the combination of circumstances that sees large numbers of MPs standing down, and the potential for sequential landslide victories by different parties.

At the time of writing, data from Polimapper’s Candidate Connect database showed that 77 MPs had announced their intention to stand down permanently at the next election.

A further 28 had been either displaced by the Boundary Commission’s redrawing of parliamentary constituencies, been de-selected by their local party or lost the national party whip at Westminster.

With 105 of 650 MPs already accounted for, we next need to look at what the polls are telling us.

If reflected at the next general election, averages from 14 national polls in October 2023 show that Labour would secure a 15% swing from the Conservatives and a 13% swing from the SNP. The Liberal Democrats would secure a 10% swing from the Conservatives.

Should this transpire, the Conservatives’ landslide victory at the 2019 general election in England and the SNP’s in Scotland, would be entirely replaced by a Labour landslide victory in 2024.

This could lead to as many as 48% of MPs sitting in the House of Commons after the general election being new to the role.

To put this in context, only twice in the last 50 years has the number of new MPs exceeded one third – the landslide victory achieved by Tony Blair in 1997 (37%) and the advent of the coalition government in 2010 (33%).

Only once has the number of new MPs exceeded 50%; in 1945 when 324 of the then 640 MPs entered the House for the first time.

So what does this seismic level of change mean for associations and the organisations they represent?

To start with, you will need to prepare to invest in establishing relationships with the new cohort of MPs. Many of the networks you’ve carefully honed over several years will be holed below the water line and need to be replaced or renewed.

Such a large number of new MPs presents a policy challenge. What are their views? How many are broadly supportive of your interests? You’ll need to establish in which areas of policy such a large shake-up in personnel presents a threat, and in which it presents an opportunity.

But the good news is that you don’t need to wait until after the election to start this process – when incidentally you’d be competing with a whole host of other interests.

This is because a significant number of prospective parliamentary candidates have already been selected.

Polimapper’s Candidate Connect database shows that 275 prime candidates – defined as those succeeding an existing MP or standing in a key target seat – had already been selected (76% of the likely total).

Prime candidates are important because these are the candidates with the best chance of being elected and are thus worth an investment of time in getting to know.

There are many ways to do this, but we’ve picked out three that stand out.

Firstly, publish and send candidates your manifesto – ideally as succinctly packaged as possible in infographic or video form so they can digest your key messages.

Secondly, present them with information about your industry or profession through a constituency lens. Data on economic contribution, numbers of jobs, or simply just displaying information about member companies and facilities could help parliamentary candidates understand the value of your industry.

Thirdly, set up member site visits for parliamentary candidates. Allied with photo opportunities for the local press, site visits can be a win:win opportunity for associations and their members.

Unlike in 2017 and 2019, we have the benefit of time to prepare for a general election – it being anything from 5 to 11 months away.

With the level of change coming to Westminster, associations that use this time to invest in relationships with parliamentary candidates, are going to have a real advantage once the next parliament opens for business.


Nathan Coyne is the managing director of Polimapper.

Polimapper has published the first in-depth study into the characteristics of the 275-strong prime candidate pool, from which our new MPs will be drawn. Download the white paper at: http://www.polimapper.co.uk/class-of-24


Chart 1 – Voting intention since 2020

Chart 2 – gender split of prime candidates by party

By Lisa Jones, Corporate Partnerships Lead at Women on Boards

Recently I had the pleasure of partnering with TAF and hosted an event looking at Why Diversity Matters. We covered a lot of ground in the talk and I’m pleased to share the highlights with you:

The importance of a diverse workforce

Diverse teams perform better. We need teams of people with different views and lived experiences who ask difficult questions and challenge our biases. We need teams that reflect the society we sell to or serve. Why?

  • Diversity confers expertise. Most of us are happy to listen to an IT expert regardless of their background. 
  • Diversity enables innovation – Different people hear and see different things.  By bringing together a wide range of perspectives, you achieve new and better ideas.
  • Diversity enables problem-solving Watch the film The Imitation Game about Alan Turing. Diverse teams also change the way you think! 

What issues surrounding diversity need to be addressed?

Diversity is not impactful without inclusion. Diverse teams are more complicated to manage, particularly for leaders not tuned in to working with different groups. They must understand individuals and their backgrounds and accept that people who are not like them think and work differently.  

Good leaders are rare and have trained themselves to be collaborative because it is not easy. They have systems in place to ensure they make everyone feel involved.

Diverse groups need role models they want to follow. They need to feel represented and have access to opportunities to progress. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. 

What does the structure look like? How diverse is the leadership? What’s the organisation’s culture? There’s no magic fix, but it’s those at the most senior level who can create meaningful change.

How can we tackle these issues?


  • Train your leaders on Inclusion
  • Collect and understand your data: by division, department, country
  • Train and support team leaders on collaboration 
  • Encourage disagreement
  • Listen to and actively manage your minority networks
  • Have an interview and promotion process that aligns with performance


  • Focus on ‘fixing’ the minority, aka asking them to adapt to old styles of working
  • Rely on minority leaders to lead the change
  • Assume minority networks will fix the problem alone
  • Assume that casual cross-mentoring will work
  • Just put minorities on the interview panels

High-performing organisations work hard to be inclusive because they know it doesn’t happen by chance. It requires active effort.

There is still a long way to go!

Our 2022 report ‘Hidden Talent’ monitored the board diversity in the FTSE All-Share companies below the top 350. 

  • 50% of UK firms in FTSE All-Share ex350 have no women in C-Suite positions
  • 44% of firms have not achieved the target of 33% women on boards
  • A quarter of boards (25%) have one director of colour, up from 16% in 2021 – but 75% of boards are entirely white

Read the report in full.

Despite the challenges, progress is slowly being made and with continued effort, we can create more inclusive environments where everyone feels valued.

Lisa Jones is part of the Corporate Partnerships team at WB directors and would be happy to talk further with any TAF members to look at how WB Directors can support you when it comes to increasing the diversity of your organisations.

About Lisa:

Lisa Jones is in the Corporate Partnership Team at WB Directors, and recently spoke at a talk alongside other female leaders, looking at ‘Why Diversity Matters’. Lisa has spent her business life in marketing communications agencies, and secured her first board position in an agency, which was a significant moment in her career, as it allowed her to understand the key issues boards are faced with. At the time of her election to the board, diversity was not on the agenda, but she is delighted to have witnessed a major change in this area. Lisa is passionate about supporting others to reach their full potential in their careers, and enjoys sharing the practical approaches she’s learnt over the years.

WB Directors works with a wide range of organisations to inspire change and ensure that they support their talent with the most relevant programmes for their professional development.

Outside of WB Directors, Lisa is an active business angel investor and board Chair for the London based charity Regenerate, helping to transform deprived communities from the inside. Lisa is also a NED at The Feel Good Bakery and has been known to pick up her golf clubs occasionally – if only she had the time to improve her handicap!

By Audrey Carvin, Account Manager, Senate Media

Political change is brewing. With Labour polling strongly, 50 Conservative MPs standing down and new constituency boundaries being enforced, the next parliament is likely to be very different to the one we have now.

With the next election looking like it will take place by December 2024, we are quickly approaching the campaigning season. Elections are pivotal moments where the political agenda is shaped for the next five, if not ten, years. At this stage of the election cycle, political parties are shaping their manifestos, and candidates are being selected. Crucially, this means that the political agenda is not yet set in stone, and can still be influenced.

For any association seeking to build support for their policy agenda among policymakers and stakeholders, it is important to spread your message far and wide. Many will choose to do this through a manifesto, setting out their intentions in a written document.

Once created, however, the main issue is how to get it seen. While your manifesto will provide vital detail and context, a long document will struggle to engage policymakers and stakeholders. Especially in the run-up to an election, when your audience’s time is short.

So how do you make your message memorable?

One way is to turn your policy agenda into a manifesto video. By summarising your key messages in a short 1-2 minute video, you can turn complex issues into easily understood, engaging and ultimately persuasive content.

Manifesto videos on social media

Video is particularly effective for social media audiences. During the 2019 election, people spent more time on social media than they did on news

apps. This included candidates and advisers, as well as campaign supporters.

Posts on X, formerly Twitter, that include a video get 10 times more engagement than those without. It’s a similar story on Instagram, where reels generate significantly more engagement than images. On LinkedIn, users are 20 times more likely to share a video than any other form of content. A manifesto video shared on social media can therefore help get your policy asks in front of the widest possible audience.

Manifesto videos for briefing and meetings

Because video is so versatile, manifesto videos are an excellent tool for candidate meetings, briefings and presentations.

By distilling your key policy issues into a short video, you have a visual tool that will ensure your meetings really resonate. Whether you use your manifesto video to introduce your policy agenda at the start of a meeting, allowing you to focus on key issues afterwards, or to close the meeting and reinforce the conversations, your video will elevate your manifesto in the minds of the candidates.

Elections are complicated and unpredictable, but your messaging doesn’t have to be. To find out more about manifesto videos, please contact audrey.carvin@senatemedia.co.uk


By Raisa McNab, CEO at the Association of Translation Companies


What’s your strategy for building long-term growth in the association? Recent research shows that 50% of associations are looking to build growth through partnerships with other organisations. For the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), innovative commercial collaborations are the key to unlocking growth and adding value to members – and we’re looking to partner up with TAF members to share the benefits.

This is the (post-everything-that-has-hit-us-plus-AI) landscape

Over the past two years, I’ve been having conversations with our member companies about what makes the biggest impact on their business in terms of support from their trade association. Rather surprisingly, it’s not the community or networking, or the member benefits and guidance, or the advocacy and lobbying. It’s something much more fundamental; our members want us to help them do better business.

I’ve also had many conversations with fellow association leaders about how to keep our associations relevant in a rapidly changing landscape where information overload is a very real thing, our attentions are being pulled into a hundred different directions, and where the role of trade associations is being put into question.

This is the (post-everything-that-has-hit-us-plus-AI) landscape where trade association leaders have to think very hard and very carefully about how not to just stay afloat, but how to continue to add value to members in a way that no one else can.

The ATC’s members are language service companies who support every single sector and industry in the UK, providing multilingual translation and interpreting services to facilitate internationalisation and exporting in over 300 languages. For them, business means working with companies looking to start exporting or expanding their international footprint.

Building value with no money exchanging hands (we have none)

Our response to our members’ needs was to dream up an innovative new strategy around commercial and trade collaborations, with a remit to build relationships with business organisations and trade associations, and to find partner associations whose members’ interests align with those of our members.

This is why we joined TAF, and this is why we took a bold step to invest in a totally new part-time role for a Commercial Collaborations Lead. And we’ve had some great early successes, among them a jointly-developed best practice guide with MRS, the Market Research Society, a collaborative webinar with the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, and monthly webinars with the UK Export Academy. The feedback from members has been tremendous.

These partnerships are based on mutual win-win collaboration, with no money exchanging hands (we have none to spare). When we find a best-fit partner, it’s not a hard sell – our advice and our members’ globalisation services add value to our partners’ members in a way that positions our partner associations as facilitators of growth. And who wouldn’t want that?

Think not just outside the box, but outside the room

But this is all par for the course, partnerships have always worked, and always will. What we also want to do is to think not just outside the box, but outside the room. I’ve spent my career in the language services industry. We are really good at talking about our skills, services and technologies within our own circles. That’s evidently not enough, which is why we have been innovating around how we could use a collaborative approach to amplify our voice outside of our own industry.

At the recent Association of Association Executives’ World Congress, we struck a partnership with the wonderful team at Zinc Media whose ground-breaking new business model revolves around working with trade associations to produce documentary-grade content disseminated not just to the trade associations’ internal audience, but to national media outlets, trade and press publications, and global business platforms – FREE OF CHARGE (I have looked, there is no catch, just a brilliant collaboration model).

Together with Zinc, we have teamed up with CIM, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, and are talking to a number of exporter associations to jointly produce Global Horizons: Unlocking Britain’s Export Potential, showcasing international trade insights in collaboration with leading industry bodies.

The benefits of media collaboration are self-evident

The Global Horizons video series will shed light on the diverse landscape of global trade while highlighting opportunities for British businesses, equipping them with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed in international markets. Topics range from trade policies to export strategies, and from marketing approaches to overcoming language barriers. Importantly, the series emphasises the vital role of diversity and gender equality in the global business landscape, showcasing how these factors foster innovation and better decision-making.

Within the production, the ATC, the CIM, and other participating trade associations, along with the private sector, contribute valuable insights, expert opinions, and real-life case studies, painting a holistic picture of the internationalisation journey. The collaborative effort ensures a rich narrative that aims to empower businesses, enhancing their ability to thrive in the global marketplace.

For me, as the one responsible for our commercial collaborations strategy as well as our purse strings, the benefits of this media collaboration are totally self-evident:

· An interesting, insightful, top-quality documentary that positions our association as an industry leader, and our members as the go-to providers.

· Wide dissemination through channels that would otherwise be well beyond our reach and financial capacity.

· New commercial collaborations with trade associations whose members are buyers of our members’ services.

We too want to be Big in America

In this internationalisation space, Zinc has done some amazing work already, in collaboration with the Department for Business and Trade, on a new LinkedIn-streamed series Big in America with the inimitable Alex Polizzi.

And the best news is that if you just got as excited as you might imagine I am right now, we are still looking for a couple of trade associations to join our expert panel and for prospective sponsors who share our vision for empowering British businesses in the global marketplace, to join us on this exciting journey.

If you’re interested in shaping the future of international trade and driving success for your business community, get in touch with me at ceo@atc.org.uk and I’d be happy to talk more!

Beyond this project, for me, staying relevant as a trade association is about finding ways to provide value to members that they can’t get elsewhere, and to do it in a way that helps grow their business. It feels like we’re starting to crack this particular nut with commercial collaborations. What’s your best new strategy for growth?


The TAF Annual Benchmarking Survey, supported by TAF partners Ellwood Atfield and  Partners& is now open, and we am delighted to invite you to participate. 

This is the most comprehensive survey specifically for UK trade associations to help us benchmark ourselves against our peers, discover trends across the sector and support our planning and budgeting for the future. The survey should take 20-30 minutes to complete.

As in previous years, the 2023 Survey focuses primarily on providing a benchmark for association salaries and benefits, and is consistent with historic surveys which will allow us to conduct trend analysis over time.

In addition and in response to current member suggestions, concerns and priorities, this year we have arranged the Survey in four broad sections.

  • Questions 1-5: A set of general profiling questions to help us cut the data in useful ways
  • Questions 6-17: A set of general association benchmarking questions designed to provide useful benchmarks for associations to measure themselves against and create some sector data and analysis. We will be looking to repeat these questions year-on-year.
  • Questions 18-25: a short set of questions exploring your experience of the UK labour market, staff recruitment, and your current ways of working. We will compare this against last year to see if changes driven by the Covid-19 pandemic have lasted.
  • Questions 26- 71: detailed information about salaries, benefits, and pensions of staff at different levels. 

The survey is for UK-based trade associations only and the final report will be given free to all those that complete at least three full sections of the survey. 

For anyone else, the report will be available for a fee. This is to maximise and encourage participation and recognise the commitment and time taken to complete the survey.

Entries for the 2024 UK Trade Association Awards are now live! The UK’s leading celebration of the association sector is back and entries are open until the 17th November 2023. 

With 18 categories covering the very best organisations and individuals from the sector, it should be a fantastic evening. We are expecting 350 people to attend on the night, and thousands more to see the awards output across our channels so what better way to showcase your success than winning!

Find out more on the 2024 Awards website:

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