How association professionals are budgeting during tough times

Managing your association’s budget in times like these can be challenging. Here are some ideas and resources to help. 

At YourMembership, we asked our customers how they’re approaching budgeting during this season we’re facing today. Here’s what they said (plus some resources to help you move forward).

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager

By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands

It’s one thing to make short-term budget pivots in response to changing conditions in challenging times. But, how will your association approach budgeting in general when economic times are tough and you’re not sure how to plan for tomorrow? 

What association professionals are doing now 

One great way to move forward is to look at what other association professionals are doing. That’s why we at YourMembership asked our customers how they’re approaching budgeting during this season we’re all facing today. 

Some of them had suggestions based on what’s working for them. Many of them were seeking ideas for their own organizations. So, we thought it would be valuable to share a few of the tips they offered up as well as a few resources of our own for those in the association industry who are looking for help. 

Here are some of the tips our customers shared: 

  • “I use zero-based budgeting with input from all my staff. Everyone has a role in budgeting.” 
  • “Exercising caution with our 2020 budget/spending…..holding off all discretionary spending. Monitoring membership levels which is 90% of our revenues. A reduction of dues revenues may cause us to reduce spending further.”
  • “Think ‘short-term goals’ versus ‘long-term’ as an option.” (Read the article, Making Short-Term Pivots to Your Association’s Budget During a Crisis, for tips on this approach.) 

What associations are anticipating?

Many of the associations we’ve chatted with are not anticipating any changes to membership numbers. And, good news is that those that are expecting a decrease anticipate less than 25 percent decline.

Some of the tactics that others association professionals have stated are:

  • Only offering extended grace period for those that ask. (If you extend dues grace period, you must account for it in your budget.)
  • Offering payment plans for those that need it such as installment payments
  • Offering free trial membership so that those in the industry get access to value during a crisis and then join the organization.
  • Adjust your non-dues budget if you are developing new pricing for virtual vs in-person events

More budgeting resources 

There’s no doubt that managing your association’s budget in times like these can be challenging. It can be even tougher to gain approval for new investments or changes to essential parts of your organization, such as technology. 

Here are some additional resources that can help: 

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