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So, Is the Recession Over Yet?

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, September 2009 Intelligence


The good times are coming back! Maybe. In a few ways. Not so much in others. And not for everybody.

Late last year, ASAE & The Center conducted a survey of association members to learn how they were responding to the recession and how they intended to spend (and not spend) their dollars in 2009.

A new follow-up survey, conducted in June, suggests a few more reasons to be optimistic. However, both members and their associations are still careful about their spending, and membership retention isn't what it used to be.

The survey draws from the responses from more than 7,000 members of 77 associations. White papers on both surveys, as well as more resources on the economy, are available at

Softening Membership …

In both surveys, association members were asked whether their dues were paid by their employers or self-paid and how they'll respond if their employers stop paying.

5.7 percent of respondents to the winter 2009 survey said they would drop their association memberships regardless of who covers their dues.

14.1 percent of respondents to the summer 2009 survey said they would drop their memberships regardless of who pays.

... Especially Among the Pessimistic

The people most likely to drop their memberships are those who are the least optimistic:

27.3 percent of respondents who believe their employment situations will be worse in the coming year say they'll drop their association memberships regardless of who pays.

That's more than double the figure (13.2 percent) for that group in the previous survey.

Increasingly Online

Participation in the past year in any association activity using social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, SharePoint, or other web or mobile-based community tools:

Winter 2009:


Summer 2009:


Feeling Better

Association members were asked, "Next year at this time, do you think your employment situation will be better, worse, or about the same as it is now?"


Winter 2009:


Summer 2009:

About the same

Winter 2009:


Summer 2009:


Winter 2009:


Summer 2009:


Taking a Scalpel (But Not a Chainsaw) to Travel Budgets

40.8 percent of respondents say that their travel funding for association meetings has been curtailed.

15.0 percent of respondents say that their travel funding for association meetings has been eliminated.

The Right Reaction?

The youngest association members are the least confident in their associations' responses to the recession.

Percentage who strongly agree with the statement "My association is effectively responding to the economic downturn":

Prewar (1945 or before):


Early boom (1946-1955):


Late boom (1956-1962):


Gen X (1963-1976):


Millennials (1977 or later):


Pressed for Time

Respondents to the new survey suggest that they're increasingly unlikely to attend association meetings that last longer than a day. Between surveys, the proportion of members who say they're unsure or definitely unlikely to attend a multiday tradeshow rose, as did the proportion of members who say they're unsure or definitely unlikely to attend an education program longer than one day.

Percentage of those who attended an in-person education or training meeting longer than one day who report low probability of going to the same type of meeting in the next 12 months:

Winter 2009:


Summer 2009:

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