It’s a fact of life these days: budget cuts happen to everyone, especially associations it seems. It’s a ripple effect, even. If a budget is cut in a company it often trickles down to the employees who wind up getting laid off or reduced hours. Without their income those employees often have to give up extra expenses. Among the first to get red-lined in personal budgets is, you guessed it, association dues and events. That means your budget gets tighter too.

So what do budget cuts in your association mean for you?

Your association's budget was cut. Now what? 

-Programs or tracks may be cut

-Pet projects could be abandoned

-Social events, out-of-town conferences, or team building may be lower priority

-Giveaways and SWAG lessens in number or quality 

So how do you deal with it?


A member who sees his or her suggestion or particular interest program alive one minute and indefinitely tabled the next can be heartbreaking. Be clear, be candid, and be as honest and quick as possible with your information. You could be dealing with disappointment, frustration, or straight up anger. Honesty is the best policy when dealing with all of that.


-Carry a positive attitude

Remember that small staff associations could literally write the book on “doing more with less.” Remember that spirit and keep it alive! Emphasize the programs and events that are still happening, and all of the great value coming from those.


-Don’t give up on recruitment

If it looks like your numbers are dwindling, remind members and potential members of the incredible value of networking available in your association, especially if those events tend to be the less expensive. Their next, and possibly higher paying, job could come from those connections within your association already. It’s an important point to drive home, both for the health of your association and the health of your members’ careers!


-Include more people in discussions

Chances are something is going to get cut that is near and dear to some members’ hearts. When that happens, try to redirect their attention from a particular labor of love that made the chopping block to other discussions. Don’t let them waste that inspiration and energy! Have another opportunity for leadership available to them.


-Get some resources together

If your budget cuts involve layoffs (or are a result of corporate layoffs trickling down) get some materials together to help. This could include budgeting workshops, networking tips and events, resume reading services, practice interviews, and even job boards. Make these resources free!


Sadly, budget cuts are a part of life and most American professionals are getting used to them or even expecting them. It doesn’t make the sting any less painful when it impacts you, though. Honesty, sensitivity and support will make all the difference to your members, though, when it comes to your association!