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. Respondents from Ys and similar facilities made up 5.2 percent of the survey respondents in 2019.
Y respondents were most likely to be located in the Midwest and South Atlantic states. Some 27.4 percent of Y respondents were in the Midwest, and 24.7 percent were located in the South Atlantic region. Another 20.5 percent were in the Northeast, while 15.1 percent were in the West and 12.3 percent were in the South Central region.
Some 43 percent of Y respondents said they were located in suburban communities. Another 29.2 percent were found in urban areas, and more than a quarter (27.8 percent) were located in rural communities.
On average, Y respondents said they reach a population of 69,090 people. Some 43.8 percent of Y respondents said they serve a population of 20,000 or fewer. Another 32.9 percent reach a population between 20,000 and 99,999. And 23.3 percent of Y respondents said they reach a population of at least 100,000 people.
On average, Y respondents manage 4.2 facilities. They were much more likely than non-Y respondents to report that they manage between one and three facilities. While 82.2 percent of Y respondents said they manage one to three facilities, just 53.9 percent of non-Y respondents manage three or fewer. Conversely, while 20.5 percent of non-Y respondents manage 10 or more facilities, only 5.5 percent of Y respondents have 10 or more facilities to manage.
Y respondents are much more likely than those from most other facility types to report that they form partnerships with other organizations. While 94.5 percent of Y respondents said they have formed such partnerships, 87.5 percent of non-Y respondents have done so. The most common partners for Ys include: local schools (80.8 percent of Ys partner with them); nonprofit organizations (80.8 percent); health care or medical facilities (60.3 percent); local government (58.9 percent); and corporations or local businesses (57.5 percent). (See Figure 54.)
The number of Ys partnering with health care or medical facilities jumped from 51.9 percent in 2018 to 60.3 percent in 2019. Ys were far more likely than other facilities to form partnerships with health care or medical facilities. Among non-Y respondents, just 19 percent partner with health care or medical facilities.
Well over half of Y respondents (56.2 percent) said that they primarily reach an all-ages audience. Another 21.9 percent of Ys said their primary audience is made up of adults, and 17.8 percent primarily reach children. The remainder of respondents are evenly split, primarily reaching seniors (1.4 percent), teens (1.4 percent), and infants and toddlers (1.4 percent).
Revenues & Expenditures
The percentage of Y respondents who reported their revenues increasing year-over-year fell slightly in 2018, while the number reporting decreasing revenues saw a significant jump. From 2016 to 2017, 53.8 percent of Y respondents said revenues increased, and 12.5 percent reported a decrease. From 2017 to 2018, 51.5 percent reported an increase, and 25 percent reported a decrease in revenues. (See Figure 55.)
Looking forward, Y respondents are much more optimistic, with 63.9 percent projecting revenues to increase in 2019, and 72.3 percent expecting an increase in 2020.
After reporting a decrease of 4.8 percent in average operating expenses from 2016 to 2017, Y respondents once again saw operating expenses drop in 2018. The average operating expenses for Ys fell 9.3 percent, from $2,910,000 in 2017 to $2,640,000 in 2018. Looking forward, however, Y respondents expect their operating expenses to grow by 7.2 percent over the next two years, to an average of $2,830,000 in 2020.
On average, Y respondents reported that they recover an average of 73.2 percent of their operating costs via revenues, up from 68.6 percent in 2018, and among the highest recovery rates of the facility types covered in the survey. While 30.6 percent of Y respondents said that they earn back at least 91 percent of their operating costs via revenues, for non-Y respondents that number falls to 12.7 percent. And while 18.1 percent of Y respondents said they earn back 50 percent or less of their operating costs via revenues, more than half (50.1 percent) of non-Y respondents earn back 50 percent or less.
As usual, Y respondents were among the most likely to report that they had taken action to reduce their operating expenditures. While 93.2 percent of Y respondents said they had taken such action (up from 88.9 percent in 2018), just 79.6 percent of non-Y respondents had taken actions to reduce expenses. The methods Y respondents were most likely to use to reduce their expenses include: increasing fees (71.2 percent); improving energy efficiency (61.6 percent); reducing staff (43.8 percent); putting construction or renovation plans on hold (31.5 percent); and cutting programs or services (15.1 percent).
While more than half (52.8 percent) of Y respondents reported that the number of people using their facilities increased from 2017 to 2018, a significant number—23.6 percent—reported a decline in usage at their facilities in this time frame. (See Figure 56.)
Looking forward, Y respondents are more optimistic, with 58.8 percent expecting an increase and 5.9 percent projecting a decrease in 2019, and 58.5 percent anticipating increasing usage and 3 percent expecting a decrease in 2020.
Y respondents are among those most likely to report that they have plans for construction over the next three years. Some 74 percent of Y respondents said they have such plans, up from 64.2 percent in 2018. Nearly one-quarter (24.7 percent) said they will be building new facilities. Another 39.7 percent are planning to make additions to their existing facilities, and more than half (53.4 percent) are planning renovations. (See Figure 57.)
On average, Y respondents are planning to spend $5,210,000 on their construction plans. This represents a substantial 38.6 percent increase from 2018, when the average was $3,760,000. However, it is a mere 0.8 percent more than the average planned in 2017, $5,170,000.
The 10 features most commonly found in Y respondents' facilities in 2019 include: exercise studio rooms; fitness centers; locker rooms; indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; classrooms and meeting rooms; Wi-Fi services; 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 increased from 32.1 percent in 2018 to 42.5 percent in 2019.
The most commonly planned additions for Y respondents in 2019 include: community centers or multipurpose facilities; splash play areas; bleachers and seating; open spaces such as gardens and natural areas; playgrounds; fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment; park shelters such as gazebos or picnic shelters; community gardens; locker rooms; and outdoor courts for sports like basketball and tennis.
As usual, all Y respondents covered by the survey said they offer programming of some kind at their facilities. This compares with 96.7 percent of non-Y respondents.
The most common programs found in Y respondents' facilities in 2019 include: day camps and summer camps (provided by 93.2 percent of Y respondents); fitness programs (89 percent); holidays and other special events (87.7 percent); group exercise programs (86.3 percent); youth sports teams (83.6 percent); mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (83.6 percent); programs for active older adults (78.1 percent); personal training (78.1 percent); educational programs (75.3 percent); and aquatic exercise programs (75.3 percent).
Programs that saw an increase in the percentage of Ys offering them from 2018 to 2019 include: personal training (up from 75.3 percent); aquatic exercise (up from 74.1 percent); and
programs for active older adults (up from 71.6 percent).
The number of Y respondents who said they have plans to add programs at their facilities increased from 32.1 percent in 2018 to 37 percent in 2019. This compares with 31.1 percent of non-Y respondents who have plans to add programs.
The 10 most commonly planned program additions for Y respondents include:
- Teen programs (no change from 2018)
- Special needs programs (no change from 2018)
- Individual sports activities like swim clubs or running clubs (up from No. 4)
- Performing arts programs (did not appear in 2018)
- Environmental education programs (did not appear in 2018)
- Sports tournaments and races (did not appear in 2018)
- Sport-specific training such as golf or tennis lessons (up from No. 9)
- Nutrition and diet counseling (down from No. 6)
- Educational programs (down from No. 7)
- Arts and crafts (down from No. 8)
As is often the case, there is a lot of variation in the top planned programs for Ys from year to year. In 2019, performing arts programs, environmental education, and sports tournaments and races all rose into the top 10, replacing adult sports teams, youth sports teams and swimming programs.