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The 10 Essential Questions to Answer for the 2015 Association Budgeting Season

by | Oct 14, 2014 | Industry News & Trends

Annual budget planning, projection and execution are the backbone to the long-term fiscal viability of any association. By appropriating money ahead of time to purchase association-building assets you will be prepared for and will expedite the selection, purchase and implementation process the moment it’s time to take action.

Budgeting now for 2015 purchases both large and small, such as adding new technology or software, can create predictable cost-controls, enable and prepare you to add assets that will improve your balance sheet while enhancing the overall strength of your association, and generate long-term, cost-saving advantages.

The Must Answer Questions to Prepare for 2015

By answering the following questions regarding revenue, expenses and long-term planning you can be prepared today for future success:

  1. Where can we invest in major functional areas to return maximum ROI?
  2. Have we budgeted now to make these investments later?
  3. Is our technology delivering best results?
  4. What are cost drivers (personnel, member deliverables, etc.)?
  5. What are the revenues that will offset costs?
  6. Based on renewal rates and member acquisition campaigns what will be our dues revenue?
  7. What non-dues revenue is projected (advertising/sponsorships, career centers, etc.)?
  8. Will an increase in engagement with my membership create more revenue?
  9. Where can we streamline business and administrative functions?
  10. Where are there other available revenue streams?

Your Answers will Define Fiscal 2015 and Your Investments in the Future

By realistically addressing the questions above you will have a clear picture of the current fiscal health and future potential of your organization. It’s crucial to examine each area of revenue and expenses closely to best determine what, where and when costs can be cut, additional avenues for revenue opened, and association growth strategies rolled-out.


Determining current and projecting future revenue will enable you to pinpoint where you are and where your association can be. Researching and considering all cost/revenue projections and budgeting for future purchases now will further enable you to channel investments for the maximum ROI based on your findings. After determining projected dues revenues, explore the other ways to generate revenue for your association. Consider including partner advertising, creating a career center/job board or an improved website experience to further engage members.


Examine your current and projected cost structure line by line. Are there administrative processes that can be streamlined through technology or software? Define, plan and budget accordingly for changes to create more efficient processes whether they are for member acquisition/retention, for association lobbying or other member services, to reduce fixed costs, or to fine-tune any other cost centers.

Growth: Budget Now to Add Essential Association-Building Assets in 2015

Your budget should be aligned with your association’s goals and must be created and carried out specifically toward those goals. This can mean that even in periods of membership decline, allocating funds to the most productive resources, whether long- or short-term investments, is a necessity.

When creating your budget, one big ticket/big return investment that consistently pays dividends is technology. Member-driven technology and association-specific software can help to grow your membership, maximize all available revenue streams and streamline your back office functions.

Major purchases should be included in budgets by association Executive Directors and CEOs from the beginning of the budgeting process so Boards do not encounter sticker shock later. Planning now for success later is the best and most effective way to prepare your annual budget.

Additional Resources

If you’d like more information about how to simplify the technology selection process for your association, view our recorded webinar Gaining Board Approval for New Membership Software. In the presentation you’ll learn the different kinds of technology available to associations, how to break down the selection process into manageable steps and how to get your board on board


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