Study Finds Optimism Low Among Trade AEs

Only 20.8 percent of trade association executives are confident about the U.S. economy, according to a study by Association Trends.

The survey, conducted in fall 2011, found that trade association executives are only mildly optimistic about membership growth (52 percent), meeting attendance (48 percent) and advertising revenue (49 percent) moving into 2012.

Nearly 53 percent of these executives say they’re optimistic about their associations’ revenue. Revenue in trade associations remained mostly stable in 2011, Association Trends reports, with more than half of executives expecting it will remain even into 2012. More than a quarter of trade association executives expect increased revenue in 2012, yet a third expect revenues to decrease.

Both trade association executives and their professional society counterparts indicated that the best strategy for developing new revenue streams is offering new value-added products and services, followed by developing strategic partnerships with external partners and vendors. Only 28.8 percent of those in trade associations thought increasing the cost of membership was a good strategy, and not many thought providing more in-person events (such as conferences, seminars, and networking events) was a good revenue-growing strategy.

Trade association executives report strategic planning as their top management focus, followed by new nondues revenue development. Improving marketing and communications came in as the third-most important focus area moving into 2012. For more on the TRENDS Fall 2011 Association PULSE Report, visit

More than 200 REALTORS® from the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®, S.C., spent a week of giving back to their community in November through a series of volunteer events, including Meals on Wheels food delivery, a field trip with underserved youth, and rebuilding a downtown home with Charleston Habitat for Humanity.

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