A Look at Trends in YMCAs

By Emily Tipping

The category that incorporates YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs made up 6.1 percent of this year's respondents. These facilities operate on a nonprofit basis, and provide many of the same functions as health clubs, but expand on those offerings to also provide educational support, before and after school programs, daycare options, and much more.

Respondents from these facilities were more likely to be from the Midwest than from other regions. Some 41.8 percent were from the Midwest. More than a quarter (26.2 percent) were from the Northeast. Far fewer were from the West (13.9 percent), South Atlantic (13.1 percent) and South Central (4.9 percent) states.

When it comes to the type of community in which they work, YMCA respondents were more likely to report in from suburban communities, with 42.5 percent indicating they work in this type of area. A third (33.3 percent) were from urban communities. Almost a quarter (24.2 percent) indicated that they work in rural communities.

As with health clubs, the majority of YMCA respondents (84.4 percent) said they manage three or fewer facilities. Only 12.3 percent manage six or more facilities.

Respondents from YMCAs were more likely than other respondents to report that they had formed partnerships with other organizations. Only 2.2 percent of YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs reported that they do not partner with any other organizations. The most common partnerships were made with local schools, with 86.9 percent of these respondents indicating they had formed this type of partnership. More than two-thirds also had partnered with nonprofit organizations (78.7 percent) or local government (69.7 percent). More than half partnered with corporations or local businesses (63.1 percent), health care or medical facilities (61.5 percent), or state government (51.6 percent). (See Figure 53.)

Budgets and Expenditures

More than three-quarters (76.3 percent) of YMCA respondents reported that their revenues had either remained the same or increased from 2009 to 2010. This compares with 89.9 percent of YMCA respondents from last year's survey who projected that their revenues would remain the same or increase. This means nearly a quarter (23.6 percent) actually saw their revenues fall in that time period, more than double the number that expected this.

YMCA respondents are more optimistic looking forward, with 63.7 percent projecting their revenues will increase from 2010 to 2011, and 65.1 percent projecting an increase from 2011 to 2012. (See Figure 54.)

YMCA respondents had higher operating expenditures than any other type of respondent, with an average of $2,008,000 for fiscal 2010, 40.7 percent higher than the average for all respondents of $1,427.000. That said, YMCAs did see a drop of 28.1 percent to operating expenditures from last year's average for fiscal 2009 to the average reported this year for fiscal 2010. In the next two years, these respondents expect their operating budgets to rise again, increasing by 8 percent on average from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012.

Half of YMCA respondents said the number of people using their facilities had increased from 2009 to 2010. This is significantly less than the 62.9 percent of last year's YMCA respondents who projected an increase for this time period. Instead, while 6.7 percent last year projected the number of users would fall in 2010, nearly a quarter (24.2 percent) this year reported that this decrease had actually taken place.

YMCA respondents are more optimistic going forward, with 64.8 percent anticipating the number of users at their facilities to increase from 2010 to 2011, and 68.5 percent expecting an increase from 2011 to 2012. (See Figure 55.)

More than 95 percent of YMCA respondents said they had taken measures to reduce operating costs at their facilities. The most popular measure, undertaken by more than seven out of 10 (70.7 percent) YMCA respondents, was improving energy efficiency. More than half had reduced staff (58.5 percent) or increased fees (56.1 percent). Some 31.7 percent had put construction plans on hold, 26.8 percent had cut programs and services, and 16.3 percent had cut operating hours.

While last year, 9.8 percent of YMCA respondents said they planned to reduce staff in 2010, this year, only 5.8 percent of respondents are planning to cut staff in 2011. A majority (77.7 percent) said they plan to maintain their current staff levels, and 16.5 percent said they will add more staff.

Construction & Facilities

YMCA respondents were among the most likely to report that they had plans for construction of some kind over the next three next years. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said they are planning construction. Most commonly, they are planning to renovate their existing structures, with 45 percent indicating they were planning renovations over the next three years, an increase from 44.6 percent last year. While fewer YMCA respondents this year were planning to add to their existing facilities or build new, there were still 30 percent with plans for additions, as well as 14.2 percent who were planning to build new facilities. (See Figure 56.)

The top features currently included in YMCA respondents' facilities include: fitness centers, locker rooms, exercise studios, indoor sports courts (i.e., volleyball courts, basketball courts, etc.), classrooms and meetings rooms, indoor aquatic facilities, playgrounds, bleachers and seating, indoor running tracks, and community or multipurpose centers.

Some 37.4 percent of YMCA respondents also said that they have plans to add features to their facilities over the next three years. The top planned amenities for these respondents include:

  1. Fitness center (26.1 percent of YMCA respondents with plans to add features)
  2. Exercise studios (23.9 percent)
  3. Playgrounds (23.9 percent)
  4. Climbing walls (23.9 percent)
  5. Indoor aquatic facilities (21.7 percent)
  6. Splash play areas (21.7 percent)
  7. Locker rooms (21.7 percent)
  8. Classrooms and meeting rooms (17.4 percent)
  9. Indoor sports courts (17.4 percent)
  10. Outdoor aquatic facilities (17.4 percent)

Respondents from YMCAs tend to offer more programming and a wider variety of programming than many other respondents. The top programs currently found among their facilities include:

  1. Holiday events and other special events (90.2 percent)
  2. Fitness programs (88.5 percent)
  3. Mind-body/balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (86.1 percent)
  4. Youth sports teams (86.1 percent)
  5. Personal training (85.2 percent)
  6. Day camps and summer camps (83.6 percent)
  7. Programming for active older adults (82 percent)
  8. Swimming programs (80.3 percent)
  9. Aquatic exercise programs (79.5 percent)
  10. Teen programming (76.2 percent)

YMCA respondents also were more likely than most other respondents (with the exception of those from community and private recreation and sports centers) to indicate that they had plans to offer additional programming within the next three years. Some 40.7 percent of YMCA respondents had plans to add more programming. Their top choices for expanded programs included:

  1. Teen programming
  2. Nutrition and diet counseling
  3. Performing arts programs
  4. Educational programs
  5. Individual sports activities
  6. Adult sports teams
  7. Arts and crafts
  8. Therapeutic programs
  9. Sport training
  10. Youth sports teams

Teen programming was far and away the most common planned program addition, with more than 15.4 percent of YMCA respondents reporting that they had plans to increase their programming for this audience. This is reflected on the YMCA of the USA Web site, where photos of teens and stories about the success of programs in reaching them are prominent. Day camps for teens are also common among JCCs, and Boys and Girls Clubs offer educational support, digital and financial literacy programs and much more aimed at educating and empowering teens.

Top Priorities: Kids' Health

According to a national survey conducted by YMCA of the USA, only 15 percent of American parents rank overall physical health as the top concern for their children. At the same time, despite growing rates of childhood obesity and chronic illness among children—problems that could be addressed largely through increased activity, the survey found that 74 percent of children ages 5 to 10 do not get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

The survey, titled "YMCA's Family Health Snapshot," revealed that the economy has created financial challenges, as well as time constraints that are making it hard for families to make time for physical activity and to provide a health home environment. More than half (52 percent) of parents surveyed said they'd been forced to cut back on their children's afterschool activities in an effort to save money.

"The Y knows parents struggle to find the time and resources to incorporate physical activity and healthier habits into their kids' daily routine," said Lynne Vaughan, senior vice president and chief innovation officer at the YMCA of the USA. "But getting active doesn't have to require a lot of time and resources. The Y created Healthy Kids Day to encourage active play and inspire a lifetime love of physical activity that's easy and accessible for today's family."

The YMCA's Healthy Kids Day took place on April 16 at more than 1,600 Ys across the United States. The event aims to remind parents that health and well-being is essential to ensure children reach their full potential.

Learn more at www.ymca.net.

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