A Look at Trends in YMCAs
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 7 percent of the survey respondents in 2017.
Y respondents were most likely to be located in the Midwest and Northeast. Some 31.4 percent of Y respondents said they were located in the Midwest, and 30.6 percent were located in the Northeast. They were followed, rather distantly, by those in the South Atlantic (17.4 percent), the South Central region (11.6 percent) and the West (8.3 percent). Another 0.8 percent of Y respondents said they were located outside the United States.
More than half (52.5 percent) of Y respondents said they were located in suburban communities. The rest were spread relatively evenly between urban and rural areas. Some 24.6 percent of Y respondents said they were located in urban communities, and 23 percent were located in rural communities.
On average, Y respondents said they serve a population of 86,800. Some 38.5 percent of Y respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer. Another 34.5 percent reach a population between 20,000 and 99,999. And 27 percent of Y respondents reach a population of at least 100,000 people.
Y respondents managed an average of 3.3 facilities. They were much more likely than non-Y respondents to report that they managed between one and three facilities. More than three-quarters (76.2 percent) of Y respondents said that they manage one to three facilities, with 47.5 percent managing just a single facility, while 58.2 percent of non-Y respondents manage between one and three facilities, with 35 percent managing just a single facility And, while 18.8 percent of non-Y respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, only 8.2 percent of Y respondents do so.
Y respondents are far more likely than other facility types to report that they formed partnerships with other organizations. Some 99.2 percent of Y respondents said they had formed such partnerships, compared with 85.8 percent of non-Y respondents. The most common partners for Ys were: local schools (87.6 percent of Y respondents had partnered with them), nonprofit organizations (75.2 percent), local government (65.3 percent), corporate or local businesses (63.6 percent), or health care or medical facilities (63.6 percent). (See Figure 56.)
Considering the growing connection between wellness and fitness and recreation facilities, it should come as no surprise that Ys—often at the forefront of innovative partnerships—are much more likely to partner with health care and medical facilities. In 2015, 54.1 percent of Y respondents had formed health care partnerships. In 2017, 63.6 percent said they have partnered with health care facilities. Only 17.8 percent of non-Y respondents had partnered with health care or medical facilities.
Y respondents were more likely than others to report that they served an all-ages audience. Some 58.2 percent of Y respondents said their primary audience was all ages, compared with 38.8 percent of non-Y respondents. Another 20.5 percent of Y respondents said their primary audience was made up of children ages 4 to 12, while 17 percent said adults ages 18 to 64 were their primary audience. Another 1.6 percent focused mainly on seniors, while 0.8 percent said teens were their main audience, and 0.8 percent worked with infants and toddlers.
Revenues & Expenditures
The percentage of Y respondents whose revenues increased year-over-year fell in 2016, while the number reporting decreasing revenues grew slightly. From 2014 to 2015, 56.5 percent of Y respondents said their revenues increased, and 19.1 percent reported a decrease in revenues. From 2015 to 2016, 47.9 percent of Y respondents saw revenues increase, while 20.7 percent saw revenues fall. (See Figure 57.)
Looking forward, Y respondents are relatively optimistic, with 60.8 percent expecting revenues to increase in 2017, and 64.3 percent projecting an increase in 2018.
Y respondents tend to have the highest operating budgets, and for 2016, the
average operating budget for Y respondents was $3,058,000, 49.6 percent higher than the average for all respondents, of $2,044,000. However, Y operating costs grew more slowly from 2015 to 2016, rising 14.1 percent from $2,679,000, while operating costs for all respondents increased by 17.5 percent in that time frame. Looking forward, Y respondents expect their average operating cost to grow 6.1 percent from 2016 to 2018, to $3,245,000.
On average, Y respondents reported that they recover an average of 73 percent of their operating costs via revenue, the highest rate of recovery among survey respondents. While 37.5 percent of Y respondents said that they earn back at least 91 percent of their operating costs via revenues, just 16.8 percent of non-Y respondents do so. And while nearly half (48.1 percent) of non-Y respondents said they earn back 50 percent or less of their operating costs via revenue, only 17.5 percent of Y respondents earn back less than 50 percent.
Y respondents were more likely than others to report that they had taken action to reduce their operating expenditures. While 88.4 percent of Y respondents said they had taken such action, 82.9 percent of non-Y respondents had done so. Y respondents were much more likely than others to report that they had increased fees (53.7 percent of Y respondents vs. 42.9 percent of non-Y respondents), cut staff (51.2 percent of Y respondents vs. 29.8 percent of non-Y respondents), or cut programs and services (27.3 percent of Y respondents vs. 18.2 percent of non-Y respondents). The most common action Y respondents had taken to reduce their operating costs was improving energy efficiency. Some 56.2 percent of Y respondents said they had taken this action.
More than half of Y respondents reported that the number of people using their facilities has increased over the past couple of years. Some 52.2 percent said usage had increased from 2014 to 2015, and 52.1 percent reported an increase from 2015 to 2016. This compares with 18.3 percent who said membership decreased in 2015, and 15.7 percent who reported a decrease in 2016. (See Figure 58.)
Looking forward, Y respondents are optimistic about memberships. Nearly two-thirds (66.1 percent) said they expect the number of people using their facilities to increase from 2016 to 2017, and more than two-thirds (68.2 percent) are projecting further increases in 2018.
A majority of Y respondents said that they have construction plans in the works, with 72.1 percent reporting that they would be building over the next few years, up from 63.8 percent in 2016. Well over half (58.2 percent) of Y respondents said they had plans to renovate their existing facilities, and 36.9 percent are planning to make additions at existing facilities. Another 30.3 percent said they have plans for new construction, a big jump from 2016, when only 16.4 percent of Y respondents were planning new construction. (See Figure 59.)
On average, Y respondents are planning to spend $5,170,000 on their construction plans, 20.3 percent more than the average for the general survey population. After their construction budgets fell 22.8 percent from 2015 to 2016, Y respondents have seen those budgets rebound and more, increasing 58.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, from $3,258,000 to $5,170,000.
There was very little change to the features most commonly found among Y respondents' facilities. The 10 most common features include: fitness centers, exercise studios, locker rooms, Wi-Fi services, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, playgrounds, indoor aquatic facilities, classrooms and meeting rooms, childcare centers, 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 over the past two years. While 41.2 percent had such plans in 2015, 39.7 percent did in 2016, and in 2017, 39.3 percent of Y respondents said they would be adding features at their facilities.
The most commonly planned additions for Y respondents in 2017 include:
- Splash play areas (planned by 37.5 pecent of Y respondents who will be adding features)
- Classrooms and meeting rooms (25 percent)
- Community centers and multipurpose centers (20.8 percent)
- Childcare centers (18.8 percent)
- Locker rooms (16.7 percent)
- Exercise studios (14.6 percent)
- Playgrounds (12.5 percent)
- Open spaces such as gardens (12.5 percent)
- Climbing walls (12.5 percent)
- Indoor aquatic facilities (12.5 percent)
There was an increase in the percentage of respondents who said they would be adding: splash play areas (up from 32.6 percent), classrooms and meeting rooms (up from 15.2 percent), playgrounds (up from 10.9 percent), and exercise studios (up from 8.7 percent). New to the list this year are: community and multipurpose centers, childcare centers, locker rooms, open spaces such as gardens and natural areas, climbing walls and indoor aquatic facilities.
All Y respondents covered by the survey offer programming of some kind at their facilities. The most common programs offered among Y respondents include: day camps and summer camps (offered by 95.1 percent of Y respondents), holidays and other special events (91 percent), fitness programs (90.2 percent), mind-body balance programs like yoga and tai chi (85.2 percent), youth sports teams (84.4 percent), educational programs (82 percent), swimming programs (81.1 percent), aquatic exercise programs (77 percent), personal training (76.2 percent), and programs for active older adults (75.4 percent).
The percentage of Y respondents who said they had plans to add programs at their facilities held relatively steady over the past year. Some 32 percent of Y respondents in 2017 said they have such plans, compared with 32.8 percent in 2016.
The 10 most commonly planned program additions for Y respondents include:
- Teen programs (up from No. 3)
- Educational programs (up from No. 8)
- Sports tournaments and races (did not appear in 2016)
- Adult sports teams (no change)
- Performing arts programs (down from No. 1)
- Youth sports teams (did not appear in 2016)
- Environmental education (down from No. 6)
- Sport training such as golf or tennis lessons (did not appear in 2016)
- Fitness programs (did not appear in 2016)
- Individual sports activities like swim clubs or running clubs (down from No. 5)
There is typically a great deal of variation in the top planned programs among Y respondents from one year to the next. In 2017, sports tournaments and races, youth sports teams, sport training, and fitness programs all rose into the top 10, replacing special needs programs, arts and crafts, nutrition and diet counseling, and programs for active older adults.