Making short-term pivots to your association’s budget during a crisis

Ideas to consider as you review and modify your budget in tough times.

Here are some tips for adapting your association’s budget as circumstances evolve.

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands

What do you do when times are turbulent? How can you adapt your association’s budget to changes that may result in different levels of revenue and expenses than expected?

In times like these, it’s important to shift the focus to short-term budget goals. In fact, you might have 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, or 6-month versions of your budget that allow you to adjust as circumstances evolve.

Here are some ideas to consider as you review and modify your budget in times of crisis:

Evaluate your association’s revenue.
Look at the revenue you projected at this point in the year, and determine how you’re tracking. Are member and non-dues revenue down from what you expected? Were you able to recoup some of the loss by supplementing dues in a different area than usual? For example, did you switch your annual meeting to a virtual event? Were you able to secure virtual sponsorships?

What about unexpected savings that might offset lost revenue? Did you save money from not hosting your annual event? Has your organization saved in other areas, such as travel?

Keeping a close eye on how your revenue (and costs) are changing will help you adjust your projects appropriately.

Think of how you could gain budget back.
There are approaches for gaining budget back outside of canceling or changing previously planned activities. For example, there are ways to keep membership dues revenue coming in, even during a crisis. Some tips:

  • Offer a free trial membership – This is a great way to provide prospective members a preview of your association. Offering them valuable resources – such as timely industry information, job opportunities, career resources, and networking opportunities – for free (for a limited time) when they need them most, allows them to instantly see the value of your association. This might give them the extra nudge they need to join.
  • Offer payment help – Make it easier for members to make the decision to join or renew by offering payment help. For example, offer an optional extended grace period for those who might need it. Another option: Allow members to pay their membership dues in monthly or quarterly installments.
  • Provide new membership models – Consider offering new membership models — such as subscription, freemium, and all-access – that might be more attractive for new or renewing members when economic times are tough.

Learn more about how to adapt your membership model to changing times. Read the e-book, Re-thinking Membership Models.

Put your reporting to use.
Be sure to use reports and dashboards in your association management software (AMS) to keep close tabs on what’s happening with your membership each day, week, and month. For example, with YourMembership association management software, you can configure dashboards based on financial year or membership types and quickly view membership stats, such as renewal rates and lapsed donors, so you can make quick, informed decisions to keep your organization moving forward.

Look forward.
During times of crisis, managing your association’s budget in the short-term can be challenging. Even more challenging can be hanging on to budget as you prepare to invest in or change an essential part of your organization, such as your technology budget.

Learn tips on how to convince your board to keep your technology budget during a crisis. Watch the on-demand webinar, How to Secure Your Technology Budget During a Crisis.

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