What if NAID had been an institute instead of an association?

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

Way back when the idea of creating a secure destruction industry organization came about, I originally envisioned it as an institute rather than a trade association. The idea was that industry participants would contribute to a non-profit institute, which would use those contributions to fund research, raise awareness of the importance of destruction, and lobbying government for stronger data destruction laws. Actually, “stronger” is the wrong word. The right word would be “any.” Back then, there were no such laws on the books.

It was apparent very early in the planning that the institute idea was a little too conceptual to get any traction. The founding members moved forward with a conventional trade association approach, creating a non-profit organization that was owned and managed by its members. It was actually quite an easy thing to do. In fact, I filed all the paperwork myself for a few hundred dollars.

As an association we, of course, held the obligatory conferences, created committees, and developed standards like any other trade association does. And, the good part was that people were comfortable with this approach. They were familiar with trade associations, and conventions, and all the other stuff that goes with running an association. Had I been allowed to proceed with the institute idea, I am sure it would have fallen flat.

The ironic thing is that we ended up in the same place. I sometimes worry that members lose sight of the fact that NAID has always spent a significant portion of its revenue conducting research, doing studies, handling government relations and promoting its principles to policymakers and decision makers around the world. Of course, that is as it should be, and that’s the beauty of the non-profit structure.

I am proud to say of all the organizations that have come and gone in the industry, NAID above all others has put its money where its mouth is. I truly believe it is that purpose-driven mission that has resulted in any success NAID and its members enjoy today.