Feature Article - June 2017
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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.