From the President
Monica Zinchiak, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiscal reserves have steadily increased since 2011. The slight downturn in 2015 is reflective of the pre-paid expenses surrounding the Worldwide Conference in Vienna. This conference is projected to cover these expenses and produce a small profit for the organization in 2016. QRCA’s real sustainability and profitability comes from the Annual Conference with the combined income of conference attendance and sponsorship revenue. The next Annual Conference event will be in January 2017 and the pre-event deposits required will effectively give the appearance of a minor dip in 2016 revenue as well. However, the board has planned for this situation by reducing some expenses associated with producing this event, namely moving it out of Q4 (conference season) when venues are at peak pricing.
Revenue from membership dues is the most important source of income for QRCA. 2015 saw a continuation of a four-year trend in declining membership with membership topping out at 819 active members. Though the membership numbers fluctuate by only a dozen or so each year, the overall increase in members who choose not to renew their membership is the greatest concern. While this may be in part simply reflective of the changing landscape, where qualitative researchers are employed or some other phenomena (internal or external), the end result is a reduction in funds available to invest in programs and benefits for currently active members. As of mid-February, two-hundred twenty-two (222) QRCA members have not renewed their membership for 2016.
The Board is obviously concerned and it is committed to adding value and benefits to ensure QRCA membership is widely perceived as a vital component to make members’ practice more successful, in turn keeping them satisfied. The Board is currently exploring an expansion of member benefits into areas such as business services and insurance services. QRCA’s management company is also working with the Content Committee to improve and streamline benefits such as local chapter events and the website archive of members-only access to educational documents/resources.
The QRCA LinkedIn Discussion Group continues to grow rapidly, even as QRCA membership declines. One possible explanation is that there may be many LinkedIn members who are simply unaware that QRCA exists as a formal organization with local representation (chapters) and benefits beyond LinkedIn contacts. The Board of Directors and Membership Committee are focused, more than ever, on converting our qualified LinkedIn members to active members who can enjoy the unique benefits that come from being a “real” QRCA member.
QRCA’s main revenue source after membership is the Annual Conference. The educational conference landscape has changed rather quickly and, in the last few years, a number of new conference events surrounding consumer insight/methods have sprung up. These new events are far less specialized than our annual conference, which makes them appealing to a wider range of consumer insight professionals and, therefore, to a much larger attendee base. And while our members may look to the annual conference to provide highly specialized content, our potential conference sponsors are interested in applying their limited pool of conference-sponsorship dollars to event(s) that will reach as many potential customers as possible. QRCA has been feeling the impact of these sponsor choices for a few years now. Furthermore, the increased number and size of these conferences has the potential to dilute the influence QRCA has in the industry. Does this mean that QRCA needs to rethink the structure and content of its annual conference? Conference Co-chairs Kate Wagenlander-Watson and Jeff Walkowski are already strategizing on this very question as they plan the 2017 conference in Los Angeles, January 18-20, 2017.
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