Thursday, March 25, 2010

McKinley's 2010 Benchmarking Report

McKinley Marketing just released their 2010 Economic Impact on Associations: A Benchmarking Report on Priorities, Challenges and Strategies for 2010. Here is a summary of their key findings as presented in the report.

Survey Method
McKinley developed an online survey to measure key data in the EIA study. The survey was launched on December 8, 2009 and remained open until January 8, 2010. The results presented in this study include responses from approximately 350 organizations within the association community.

In many cases, the impact of the recession in 2009 was not as bad as expected.
Going into 2009, 82% of participants in McKinley’s initial EIA study felt that the economy was bound to have an extremely or somewhat negative impact on their ability to achieve their goals in the coming year. Eight percent did not believe the economy would have any significant impact — either positive or negative — and 3% anticipated a positive impact. In this study, when asked to look back on 2009, 37% of respondents felt that actual results were about what was expected while 35% claim that results were not as bad as anticipated. Twenty eight percent experienced results that were worse than expected (4% were “far worse”).

The outlook for 2010 is decidedly more positive than it was one year ago.
This time a year ago 82% anticipated that the economy would negatively impact their activities,
compared to 67% of this year’s respondents. As we look to 2010, 13% feel the economy will have
a positive effect (compared with 3% in 2009).

The recession remains a concern and will likely continue to affect associations’ core business lines.
Survey participants maintain a high level of alert over the economy’s effect on non-dues revenue activities, particularly sponsorships and advertising. Apprehension over meeting attendance has decreased slightly, though it remains a primary issue. Concern with the effect the recession has on membership recruitment and retention is diminishing slightly.

Many associations accessed reserves in 2009, with many organizations using the funds to invest in new initiatives.
Given the large percentage of associations reporting budget cuts in mid-2009, it seemed likely that associations would find it necessary to access reserve funds during the year. Indeed, forty-two percent of participants report having accessed their reserve funds in 2009. Of these, nearly half (47%) indicate that they used the reserve funds only to cover operating expenses. 53% used reserves to invest in new initiatives...
Budget cuts, freezes on salary increases and hiring freezes are the most likely results of economic conditions in 2010. However, budget cuts are down slightly in 2010.
...35% of participating associations indicated that budget cuts were currently happening. However, ... it appears that the overall trend toward cutting budgets is on the decline.

Growing membership remains the top priority in 2010, with the importance of increasing meeting attendance on the rise.
Once again, the top two priorities of the association executives that completed the study are improving member retention and acquiring new members.

Less than one-quarter of associations plan to add staff in 2010.
According to the data, 24% of associations polled plan to add staff in 2010, while 60% suggest they will not be adding staff (16% answered “Don’t know”). The most common areas where these staff members will be added are Education/Professional Development, Marketing, Membership, Communications and Meetings/Expositions.

Targeted marketing efforts are the most effective tactics, according to the data.
As in 2009, database marketing, event marketing/trade shows and market research are the most effective tactics to accomplish association goals, while online media, print advertising and member-get-a-member programs were cited as least effective.

Despite conditions, some areas are seeing slight budget increases, most notably market research, direct mail, trade show attendance/marketing and online advertising.
The overall trends extracted from the survey data indicate rather flat budgets in 2010 with respect to overall marketing expenditures. In most categories, the majority of respondents selected “remain the same” when indicating their anticipated budget situations for 2010 as they compare with 2009. There are some signs; however, to indicate that increases are underway in some of the more targeted areas of marketing such as market research, direct mail, trade show attendance/marketing and online advertising.

If you’d like to read the study, here is the link:


  1. Great summary. Helpful to have perspective as associations reexamine priorities and "A" items.
    Your assessment reflects similar results from our DigitalNow assessments. Thanks!

  2. I, of course, a newcomer to this blog, but the author does not agree