The findings from the 2024 Association Economic Outlook Survey shed light on the anticipated progress and transformations within the sector. The optimism surrounding the economic outlook for 2024 is palpable. Associations anticipate a continued rebound, reflecting a broader recovery from the pandemic’s economic disruptions. Associations are actively planning strategic changes to enhance their offerings and better serve their members.

Key Benefits for Members

Central to the survey’s findings are the benefits that associations emphasize in their messaging to members. The top four benefits are:

  1. Education and training opportunities: Providing members with continuous learning and professional development to stay ahead in their fields.
  2. Networking opportunities: Facilitating connections among members, fostering a collaborative and supportive community.
  3. Industry trends and best practices information: Keeping members informed about the latest trends, innovations, and best practices within their industries.
  4. Sense of community: Cultivating a strong, supportive network where members feel a sense of belonging and mutual support.

Emerging Opportunities 

Looking ahead, associations are exploring and implementing new opportunities to enhance member value and engagement. Key initiatives include:

  • Developing new products and services: Associations are innovating new offerings to meet the evolving needs of their members and member companies, ensuring they remain relevant and valuable.
  • Reevaluating and streamlining internal processes: By optimizing internal workflows, associations aim to improve efficiency and effectiveness in their operations.
  • Conducting market research and data analytics: Understanding member needs through robust research and analytics is becoming a priority, enabling associations to tailor their strategies and offerings more precisely.
  • Increasing virtual professional development opportunities: With the growing demand for flexible learning, associations are expanding their virtual training and development programs.
  • Creating online communities: Developing digital platforms for networking and information sharing to foster engagement and community building.
  • Returning to in-person meetings and events: There is a strong desire to revive face-to-face interactions, recognizing the unique value of in-person connections.

Top Challenges

Despite the optimistic outlook, the key challenges that associations are bracing for are:

  • Operational cost increases: Rising costs pose a substantial hurdle, requiring strategic financial management.
  • Inadequate budgets: Limited financial resources constrain the ability of associations to invest in new initiatives and services.
  • Competition from other associations: The competitive landscape is intensifying, necessitating differentiation and innovation to attract and retain members.
  • Inflation forcing increases in dues/pricing: Inflation pressures may lead to higher membership dues and service pricing, which could impact member retention.
  • Staff turnover: Retaining skilled staff amidst a competitive job market remains a critical concern, with associations striving to maintain a stable and motivated workforce.

The 2024 Association Economic Outlook Report underscores a period of recovery and innovation for associations. By focusing on key member benefits and proactively addressing emerging challenges, associations are well-positioned to enhance their value proposition and support their members effectively. As we move further into 2024, the strategic initiatives outlined in this survey will be crucial for driving growth, fostering community and ensuring sustainable success.