Association Communications - and Concerns - On the Incline


A Screenshot from Naylor's 2021 Association Communications Benchmarking Report


Naylor's new report on association communications confirms that associations' communication frequency reached a record level in 2021. However, the report also highlights the significant pain points related to those communications, which may be a portent of things to come. 

Communication Frequency

The frequency of communication increased across all channels. If you're wondering how your association measures up, associations averaged 16.4 social media touches per month and 12.3 digital touches. The average number of touches via print publications was 1.7, and video was up to 2.2. These across-the-board increases seemed to have surfaced significant issues.

Staffing & Challenges

Survey data illustrates increased concerns about staffing and core communication challenges. The top five communication challenges were: 

  • Combating information overload/cutting through the clutter (72%) 
  • Communicating member benefits effectively (68%)
  • Customizing for member segments (59%) 
  • Engaging young professionals (51%) 
  • Overcoming technical barriers (e.g., spam filters) (48%)

These challenges take on greater significance when we consider that nearly half of the 400+ respondents (49%) reported feeling understaffed.

Nondues Revenue

Last - and perhaps most concerning - the majority of respondents expressed grave concerns about nondues revenue. 3 in 5 expect non-dues revenue to decline post COVID-19, and half expect advertising, sponsorship, and exhibit sales to continue to decline post-COVID. 

These findings reinforce the need for associations to explore new revenue opportunities and apply a strategic approach to staffing and organizational capacity issues. 

The 2021 Association Communications Benchmarking Report can be downloaded here. This information will be featured in a breakout session at MSAE's 2021 Annual Conference.