Survey: How Associations Plan to Meet Top Challenges in 2014

A newly published survey reveals several issues, including membership growth, facing associations in 2014. It also indicates some of the strategies associations are planning to implement this year in areas from marketing to technology to leadership succession.

It may not come as a surprise, but building membership is at the top of the pile when it comes to challenges associations plan to tackle in 2014, according to a new survey of more than 400 DC-area associations.

Following 2013, a year in which 42 percent of the respondents to the “DC Associations Salary Survey Report 2013-2014” reported a decrease in membership revenues, 74 percent of respondents reported that increasing membership is their number-one challenge for 2014. The survey also identified several of the ways associations plan to foster growth this year.

“This pressing issue is confirmed by plans to find innovative ways to deliver programs and services—clear paths to increasing membership and revenues,” according to the report. “In addition, ensuring that forward-looking leadership is in place, in management and on the board, and finding, then retaining, highly capable staff to implement new initiatives appears to be critical in the coming year.”

Other challenges for 2014 identified by the survey, conducted by the staffing firm Professionals for Nonprofits, included delivering new programs and services, keeping up with technology changes, improving communication with members, creating stronger impact through advocacy, becoming more competitive for new revenues, strengthening and engaging the board, managing the rising cost of benefits, and improving efficiency of operations.

How do associations plan to tackle these issues? Forty-four percent reported they will evaluate and assess program results, while 42 percent plan to focus on marketing strategies, and 36 percent will upgrade technology systems. About a third of respondents also plan to strengthen leadership and succession plans and develop use of social media.

Increasing staff performance and productivity was also reported as a strategic priority to ensure growth in 2014. Fifty-eight percent of respondents reported that they plan to do so. Roughly 50 percent plan to increase staff in key areas and increase staff training and coaching.

“DC associations, of all staff and budget sizes, indicated that an important internal focus in 2013, and now an objective for 2014, is to substantially raise performance levels and increase productivity of staff, while improving efficiency and effectiveness of operations,” according to the report.

(Digital Vision/Thinkstock)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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