To say that every association needs a government affairs program would be an exaggeration. However, a case can be made that many associations that do not have a government affairs program should. Here are three reasons:
1) Government affairs representation is one of the primary reasons that members join associations. It is also one of the most difficult benefits for for-profit competitors to copy.
2) Just because there has not been any legislation affecting your association/industry in the past doesn't mean there won't be in the future. In fact, if your goal is to ensure that there is none in the future, having a government affairs program in place sends a strong "Don't tread on me" message to those who might think otherwise.
3) Having a government affairs program in place can add to the association's prestige and allow the association to find a "place at the table" in other forums and discussions for which you would otherwise be overlooked.
What has your experience been with government affairs? When is it not needed at all?