Small Associations Lag Prioritizing Technology

Most small association professionals do not feel technologically prepared to meet member needs today or in the future, yet few say upgrading or integrating new technology is a priority.

Increasing non-dues revenue is an important priority, but small associations are not leveraging technology to do so. Most of the small associations participating in a survey conducted by technology firm Community Brands have less than $1 million in annual revenue, half of which is member dues, and one-third from non-dues revenue. A majority earn non-dues revenue from events, sponsors, and event exhibitors.

The survey was conducted between January and February 2019, and responses were received from more than 350 association professionals, according the report. Most of the respondents are in a leadership position at their association. The organizations had small staffs (10 or fewer) members.

The report is broken into four sections: The inner workings of small associations; Small associations and strategy; Small associations and technology; and, Where do you go from here?

Roughly 70 percent of the associations have annual revenue of $1 million or less, represented 5,000 or fewer members with approximately half of the associations’ revenue generated from membership dues.

Increasing non-dues revenue is a priority for most, but few are using technology beyond event-related tools to generate the income. This points to an opportunity for small associations to leverage technology in other areas, such as job boards, ecommerce, and webinars to increase non-dues revenue, according to the report’s authors.

When it comes to technology, just 45 percent of the small association respondents said that they are prepared to meet member needs, with 43 percent saying that they are prepared for the future and 42 percent saying upgrading/integrating to new technology is a priority.

Small association respondents described their technology adoption as average to lagging. In addition, beyond conference registration, paying dues, and customer service, few survey respondents feel their technological offerings are high quality. Upgrading and investing in technology is not a priority.