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Associations and Membership Organizations: Turning to M&A for sustainability and growth

Grant Thornton's 2017 State of NFP: AssociationsA myriad of challenges — both internal and external — are converging to not only stymie association growth, but also threaten sustainability.

According to executives surveyed by Marketing General Incorporated, the biggest challenge for Association leadership is effectively communicating membership value and benefits in a way that drives retention and growth.1 Associations also face increasing competition to their traditional business model from online and social networking communities that offer opportunities to virtually engage with others, as well as from sources offering online education or training. Finally, changing demographics are resulting in declining memberships with baby boomers retiring and a preference for online engagement by the younger membership joining association ranks.

As a direct result of these challenges, the majority of associations responding to the survey reported a decrease (26%) in renewal rates over the past year. To survive, many have felt forced to offer more member benefits and services. But this presents financial challenges that jeopardize long-term financial viability. With an uncertain return on investment for these efforts, an association could consider a new direction — mergers or acquisitions — to achieve financial stability and growth.

To learn more about closing gaps and opening opportunities, and conducting effective tax and financial due diligence, read the full article.

1 Wasserman, Adina. “2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report,” Marketing General Incorporated, June 22, 2016.

Visit the report overview for more articles: The State of the Not-for-Profit sector in 2017.
Clients, register to for the April 19 webcast Strengthening your not-for-profit organization’s brand.
Explore our 2017 webcast series for trends, issues and solutions.


Jeffrey Su
Managing Director, Audit Services, Not-for-Profit and Higher Education Practices
+1 732 516 7698

Bridget Roche
Director, Tax Services, Not-for-Profit and Higher Education Practices
+1 312 602 8068