A Look at Trends in YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs


onprofit organizations like YMCAs represent a unique operating structure and mission among the facility types covered in the survey. Like health clubs, they offer fitness options and programs. Like schools, they reach out to children with educational opportunities. And like park districts, they provide a combination of sports and other programs for families and others.

According to YMCA of the USA, there are 2,686 YMCAs with nearly 21 million members. This category of respondents to our survey also includes YWCAs, Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and Boys & Girls Clubs.

YMCA respondents, like others, were most likely to be from the Midwest, with 43.5 percent naming that as their location. Nearly a quarter (23.1 percent) of these respondents were from the Northeast, and 15.2 percent were from the South Central states. Less than one in 10 were from the South Atlantic (7.6 percent) and the West (7.6 percent).

While these types of facilities are often thought of in urban settings, more than half (52.2 percent) of our respondents were located in suburban communities. The remainder were divided evenly between urban areas (23.9 percent) and rural areas (23.9 percent).

A majority of respondents (59.8 percent) from YMCAs said that they operate a single facility, and another 26.1 percent operate just two to three facilities, making these respondents much less likely than average to work with a larger number of individual facilities.

Again in 2010, respondents from YMCAs were the most likely to say they had formed partnerships with outside organizations. Local schools were the most common partners, with 84.4 percent of YMCA respondents reporting that they had partnered with schools, followed by nonprofit organizations (72.2 percent) and local governments (64.4 percent). (See Figure 54.)

The YMCA itself reports a high number of collaborations among various types of organizations, reporting on how many individual YMCAs partner with such entities as elementary schools (1,815), churches (1,553), local government agencies (1,265), hospitals (1,148), parks and recreation (1,245) and more.

Budgets and Growth

Respondents from YMCAs were the most likely to indicate that they were concerned about the impact of the economic downturn on their facilities. This year's survey saw relevant changes from last year's projections, especially in the 2008-to-2009 time frame. Last year, 55 percent of YMCA respondents projected their revenues would increase in that time period, but this year, just 40 percent reported that such increases had taken place. And, while 11 percent were expecting revenues to be lower, more than one-quarter (26.7 percent) reported that their revenues in 2009 were lower than in 2008. (See Figure 55.)

By 2011, however, YMCA respondents return to positive expectations, with two-thirds projecting revenue growth in that year. Surely, much of the hit taken in 2008 through 2009 is due to the nature of funding for these facilities. YMCAs rely heavily on contributed income, as well as government grants and contracts.

When it comes to the number of people using their facilities, the projected numbers for 2008 to 2009 from last year were very close to the reality reported by this year's respondents. Last year, 52.5 percent said they expected that number to increase from 2008 to 2009, and this year, 53.8 percent reported that the number had actually increased. Looking forward, a majority of YMCA respondents are also expecting the usage of their facilities to grow, with 62.9 percent projecting an increase in 2010, and 67.5 percent projecting an increase in 2011. (See Figure 56.)

Respondents from YMCAs were among the few to report a decrease in their operating costs in 2009, when they reported a 3.3 decrease. A 5.4 percent drop is expected in 2010, when YMCAs expect operating budgets to decrease from an average of $2,791,000 to $2,641,000. This is followed by an increase of 6.4 percent in 2011.

In fact, YMCA respondents were the most likely to report that they had taken action to reduce their operating costs. Only 2.2 percent said they had not taken any action. The most common measure taken by these facilities was to reduce staff (64.4 percent said they had reduces staff), followed closely by improving energy efficiency (62.2 percent) and increasing fees (58.9 percent). Around a third said they had put construction plans on hold (33.3 percent) or cut programs and services (30 percent). And, 16.7 percent said they had reduced their hours of operation.

Among all of the facilities covered in the Industry Report survey, respondents from YMCAs employed the highest average number of employees: 247.6, which includes full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, as well as volunteers, a large part of the YMCA mission. In 2010, 79.1 percent of these respondents said they plan to maintain their current staff levels, with 13.2 percent planning cuts, and 7.7 percent planning to add staff. Among those who are planning to bring on new employees, an average of 49.4 new employees will be hired, including 2.2 full-time workers, 17.5 part-time employees, 9.9 seasonal workers and 19.8 volunteers.

Construction and Features

Respondents from YMCAs were among those who are most likely to be planning construction over the next three years, with a focus on renovation. Nearly three-quarters (72.8 percent) said they had construction plans in place. (See Figure 57.) They were much less likely than last year's respondents to be planning new construction. Last year, nearly a quarter (23.3 percent) of YMCA respondents were planning to build new. This year, 15.2 percent were planning new construction. More than twice as many (37 percent) were planning additions, and 44.6 percent were planning renovations.

While in past surveys, YMCAs typically plan to spend more than average on their construction plans, this year, they planned $4,051,000, 22.7 percent than last year's YMCA respondents, and 9.2 percent less than the average amount planned by the general survey population.

The top features included in YMCAs highlight the community-center-meets-fitness-club nature of these facilities:

  1. Fitness center (included by 92.2 percent of these respondents)
  2. Exercise studios (91.1 percent)
  3. Locker rooms (90 percent)
  4. Indoor sports courts (84.4 percent)
  5. Indoor aquatic facilities (78.9 percent)
  6. Classrooms and meeting rooms (77.8 percent)
  7. Playgrounds (66.7 percent)
  8. Bleachers and seating (51.1 percent)
  9. Community center or multipurpose center (45.6 percent)
  10. Indoor running track (44.4 percent)

Nearly half (44.6 percent) of YMCA respondents reported that they had plans to add more features to their facilities in the next three years. Among the most commonly planned additions were: splash play areas, playgrounds, exercise studio rooms, bleachers and seating, fitness centers, classrooms and meeting rooms, concession areas, open spaces like gardens and natural areas, indoor sports courts, challenge courses, indoor aquatic facilities and park structures like shelters and restroom buildings.


YMCAs continue to be at the forefront of creative programming that serves the needs of their communities and patrons. The most common programs among YMCA respondents were:

  1. Fitness programs
  2. Mind-body/balance programs
  3. Day camps and summer camps
  4. Youth sports teams
  5. Holiday events and special events
  6. Active older adult programs
  7. Aquatic exercise programs
  8. Personal training
  9. Swimming programs
  10. Teen programs

YMCAs were among those most likely to be planning to add new programs to their facilities over the next three years as well. The top programs planned include:

  1. Nutrition and diet counseling
  2. Special needs programs
  3. Teen programs
  4. Environmental education
  5. Sport training, such as golf or tennis lessons
  6. Adult sports teams
  7. Arts and crafts
  8. Mind-body/balance programs like yoga or tai chi
  9. Individual sports activities
  10. Youth sports teams, trips, and personal training

An Extra Boost for Education

The YMCA recently testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Appropriations, calling for funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is currently the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, these funds allow sites like YMCAs and others to establish and expand centers that offer significant extended learning opportunities, such as before- and afterschool programs, for children and youth.

"Afterschool programs provide a safe and enriching environment that builds upon the work of the school day," said Chris Francis, CEO of the YMCA of the Northwoods in Rhinelander, Wis. "They are fun places where children can develop strong character values. As the largest provider of afterschool childcare in the nation, engaging kids in out-of-school time is a significant part of the YMCA mission. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program has been vital to helping us and other community organizations provide this programming."

YMCAs serve nearly half a million youth in school-age care programs, and millions more in afterschool programs. These programs focus on the abilities of youth and include elements that promote artistry, social skill development, emotional development, nutrition and physical activity, character development, sports, service learning, as well as literacy, math and science hands-on activities.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program funds can be used for art and music education, recreational activities, telecommunications and technology education, expanded library school hours, parental involvement and family literacy programs, and drug and violence prevention. The current funding level provides just over 1 million children the opportunity to participate in safe, supervised programs after school.

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