Paying the Price of Success
When it comes to supporting their publications, associations either get it ... or they don't.
"NO TWO associations are exactly the same—they have a wide range of sizes and structures," explains Michael Collins, executive editor of AOPA Pilot, the monthly magazine of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, based in Frederick, MD. However, the official publication of any association can directly affect membership and the organization's bottom line. The degree to which a publication benefits its association is often proportional to the amount of funding a board gives to production and editorial departments.
"In some cases a board recognizes the value of the association's publication and in some cases it doesn't," explains Laura Skoff, executive director of the Society of National Association Publishers, McLean, VA. "That's a challenge our members face on an annual basis."
Associations can be divided into two categories, depending on whether board members acknowledge their value (real or potential), according to Marnie Green, marketing director for Mercury Publishing Services, Rockville, MD, a printer specializing in association and trade publication printing. For the purposes of this article, we'll say that Category A includes associations that understand the benefit of providing financial support for publication efforts and Category B comprises those that do not.
The double-sided coin
AOPA is an exemplary member of Category A. The association's membership is 340,000 and "continues to climb at a time when the total number of pilots in the United States is declining," Collins states. Although the legal lobbying that AOPA undertakes in support of personal and business flying is a good reason for pilots to join, AOPA Pilot is also a main attraction.
"The magazine has the status of the association's number-one membership benefit," Collins says. "And I know at least eight percent of our members joined AOPA for Pilot."