A Look at Trends in YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs, and Boys & Girls Clubs
In this section, we cover Ys, a category that, for our purposes, includes not only YMCAs, but also similar facilities that are typically nonprofits, such as YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs, among others. Due to their nonprofit operations, these facilities tend to stand apart in unique ways from other multipurpose facilities like the recreation centers and health clubs they resemble. Respondents from Ys and similar facilities made up 5.1 percent of the survey respondents in 2018.
Y respondents are most likely to be located in the Midwest and Northeast. Some 37 percent of Y respondents said they are from the Midwest, while 29.6 percent reported from the Northeast. They were followed by the South Atlantic states, with 17.3 percent. Y respondents are far less likely to be located in the South Central region (9.9 percent) or the West (6.2 percent). No Y respondents said they are from outside of the United States.
Some 42 percent of Y respondents said they are located in suburban communities. Another third (33.3 percent) are located in rural areas, and nearly one-quarter (24.7 percent) can be found in urban communities.
On average, Y respondents said they reach a population of 77,080 people. Some 43.8 percent of Y respondents said they serve a population of 20,000 or fewer. Nearly another third (32.5 percent) reach a population between 20,000 and 99,999. And 23.8 percent of Y respondents reach a population of at least 100,000 people.
Y respondents manage an average of 3.4 facilities. They were much more likely than non-Y respondents to report that they manage between one and three facilities. While 81.5 percent of Y respondents said they manage one to three facilities, just 58.5 percent of non-Y respondents manage between one and three facilities. Conversely, while 17.6 percent of non-Y respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, just 4.9 percent of Y respondents have 10 or more facilities to manage.
Y respondents are much more likely than other facility types to report that they form partnerships with other organizations. While 95.1 percent of Y respondents said they have formed such partnerships, some 86.2 percent of non-Y respondents have partnered. The most common partners for Ys include: local schools (87.7 percent of Y respondents have partnered with them); nonprofit organizations (80.2 percent); corporate or local businesses (67.9 percent); local government (59.3 percent); and health care or medical facilities (59.3 percent). (See Figure 56.)
Ys are often at the forefront of innovating new ways to partner to innovate and bring new programming to their communities, so when you consider the growing connection between wellness and fitness facilities, it comes as no surprise that Ys are much more likely than others to partner with health care and medical facilities. Some 51.9 percent of Y respondents said they have partnered with health care and medical facilities, compared with just 15.8 percent of non-Y respondents.
Y respondents were more likely than others to report that they serve an all-ages audience. Some 55.6 percent of Ys said they reach all ages, compared with 42.5 percent of non-Y respondents. Another 22.2 percent of Ys said their primary audience is made up of adults, 18.5 percent serve children, 2.5 percent reach teens, and 1.2 percent primarily serve infants and toddlers.
Revenues & Expenditures
The percentage of Y respondents whose revenues increased year-over-year grew in 2017, while the number reporting decreasing revenues fell substantially. From 2015 to 2016, 47.9 percent of Y respondents said their revenues increased, and 20.7 percent reported a decrease. From 2016 to 2017, 53.8 percent reported an increase, while 12.5 percent saw a decrease in revenues. (See Figure 57.)
Looking forward, Y respondents are relatively optimistic, with 58.2 percent expecting revenues to increase in 2018, and 51.4 percent expecting increases in 2019. At the same time the percentage expecting decreasing revenues grows slightly to 12.7 percent in 2018 before falling to 5.6 percent in 2019.
Y respondents reported a smaller decrease to their average operating expense than other respondents from 2016 to 2017. While all respondents saw an 11.9 percent decrease to operating costs in that time period, for Y respondents, the decrease was just 4.8 percent, from an average of $3,058,000 in 2016 to $2,910,000 in 2017. Looking forward, they projected a much smaller increase than other respondents. While all respondents expect operating costs to increase by 6.7 percent by 2019, Y respondents projected a smaller 1 percent increase, from $2,910,000 in 2017 to $2,940,000 in 2019.
On average, Y respondents reported that they recover an average of 68.6 percent of their operating costs via revenue. While 37.5 percent of Y respondents said that they earn back at least 91 percent of their operating costs via revenues, just 13.7 percent of non-Y respondents earn back 91 percent or more. And while 30 percent of Y respondents said they earn back 50 percent or less of their operating costs via revenue, 48 percent of non-Y respondents earn back half or less.
Y respondents were among the most likely to report that they have taken action to reduce their operating expenditures. While 88.9 percent of Y respondents said they have taken such action, 80 percent of non-Y respondents have done so. The actions Y respondents are most likely to have taken include: improving energy efficiency (63 percent); increasing fees (54.3 percent); reducing staff (39.5 percent); cutting programs or services (24.7 percent) and putting construction or renovation plans on hold (18.5 percent).
More than half of Y respondents reported that the number of people using their facilities has increased over the past couple of years. Some 52.1 percent said usage increased from 2015 to 2016, and 55.6 percent reported an increase from 2016 to 2017. In that same time period, the percentage reporting a decrease in membership fell, from 15.7 percent who saw a decrease in 2016 to 11.1 percent in 2017. (See Figure 58.)
Looking forward, Y respondents are even more optimistic about memberships. Nearly two-thirds (64.6 percent) said they expect the number of people using their facilities to increase from 2017 to 2018, though oddly, just 56.3 percent expect an increase in 2019.
A majority of Y respondents said that they have construction plans in the works, though that number fell from 2017 to 2018. Some 64.2 percent of Y respondents said they have construction plans in 2018, down from 72.1 percent in 2017. Nearly one-quarter (24.7 percent) said they will be building new facilities. Another 29.6 percent plan to add to their existing facilities, and 43.2 percent will renovate existing facilities. (See Figure 59.)
On average, Y respondents are planning to spend $3,760,000 on their construction plans. This represents a 15.4 percent increase from 2016, when their average construction budget was $3,258,000. In 2017, Y respondents' construction budget saw an unexpected jump, to $5,170,000, likely driven by the high percentage planning entirely new facilities in that year.
The 10 features most commonly found in Y respondents' facilities in 2018 include: indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, locker rooms, fitness centers, exercise studio rooms, Wi-Fi services, classrooms and meeting rooms, indoor aquatic facilities, childcare centers, playgrounds, and bleachers and seating.
The number of Y respondents who have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years has fallen nearly 10 percent since 2015, from 41.2 percent to 32.1 percent in 2018.
The most commonly planned additions for Y respondents in 2018 include: splash play areas, playgrounds, park shelters such as gazebos or picnic shelters, indoor courts for sports like volleyball and basketball, climbing walls, indoor tracks, exercise studios, bleachers and seating, classrooms and meeting rooms, and community gardens.
All Y respondents covered by the survey said they offer programming of some kind at their facilities. This compares with 96.9 percent of non-Y respondents.
The most common programs found among Y respondents in 2018 include: day camps and summer camps (offered by 93.8 percent of Y respondents); fitness programs (88.9 percent); holiday events and other special events (87.7 percent); youth sports teams (87.7 percent); mind-body balance programs such as yoga, Pilates or tai chi (87.7 percent); swimming programs (81.5 percent); educational programs (79 percent); personal training (75.3 percent); aquatic exercise programs (74.1 percent) and programs for active older adults (71.6 percent).
Programs that saw an increase in the percentage of Ys providing them from 2017 to 2018 include: youth sports teams (up from 84.4 percent); and swimming programs (up from 81.1 percent).
The percentage of Y respondents who said they have plans to add programs at their facilities has held relatively steady for the past several years. Some 32.1 percent have such plans in 2018, up slightly from 32 percent in 2017.
The 10 most commonly planned program additions for Y respondents include:
- Teen programs (no change from 2017)
- Special needs programs (did not appear in 2017)
- Adult sports teams (up from No. 4)
- Individual sports activities like swim clubs or running clubs (up from No. 10)
- Youth sports teams (up from No. 6)
- Nutrition and diet counseling (did not appear in 2017)
- Educational programs (down from No. 2)
- Arts and crafts (did not appear in 2017)
- Sport-specific training such as golf or tennis lessons (down from No. 8)
- Swimming programs (did not appear in 2017)
As usual, there is a lot of variation in the top planned programs among Y respondents from year to year. In 2018, special needs programs, nutrition and diet counseling, arts and crafts programs and swimming programs all rose into the top 10. These programs replaced sports tournaments and races, performing arts programs, environmental education and fitness programs, which were among the top 10 planned programs in 2017.
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