New Economic Impact Study Shows Surprising Confidence Yet Signals Concerns for Association Community
WASHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2009 — Results of a new economic impact study recently conducted by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership point to new challenges associations might have to face in the near future. The study, titled “ASAE & The Center Impact Study — Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes in Response to the Current Economy,” shows that although overall the association sector is doing well, there are some important points that association leaders should consider when planning their business strategies for this and next year.
“Although some of the research confirms what we hear anecdotally from associations operating in a soft economy, other findings are somewhat surprising and counter-intuitive to what we assumed to be industry-wide trends,” said ASAE & The Center President and CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE. “For example, many associations are emphasizing virtual experiences right now, which is probably good planning, but the study clearly shows that the members who participated in the study want to meet face-to-face instead, and may even skip some more localized events that they would normally attend in order to afford a larger, distant meeting where the perceived value is high. This study really speaks volumes about what members want and value from their associations, and should be a great resource for associations as they adapt to these changing economic conditions.”
Conducted between December 2008 and January 2009, the study evaluated the effect of the ailing financial system on working professionals who belong to associations and their outlook for the future. Nearly 100 associations agreed to share their membership lists, culminating in 8,500 professionals who participated in the study, including highly educated people like lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, counselors, architects, accountants, scientists, engineers and meeting professionals, representing both the corporate and nonprofit sectors.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY:
* Overall, association members have a positive outlook on their jobs and feel their employment situation will not deteriorate in the coming year; only 8.4% of participants think their employment situation will worsen in the next year;
* As organizations seek to cut costs, employers might be less likely to pay for membership fees for staff, which might lead to a decline in association membership; members that don’t pay their own membership are the ones likely to affect associations’ bottom line;
* Association meetings, one of the main sources of income for associations, are likely to be more deeply affected if economic conditions worsen;
* Only 58% of association members who have attended a face-to-face meeting or an event last year indicate they have a high probability of doing so this year – primary markets are shrinking;
* They are willing to travel farther in 2009 but might skip the local meetings to save funds for the more distant events;
* Millennials, individuals born after 1977, will have to be convinced of the value of membership and are most likely to drop membership and event attendance. To be successful, we have to show them, and all members, how our associations help them in a down economy.