A week or so ago, I was reading a post called More Evidence that Frugality May be Here to Stay. While the authors focused on the impact of frugality on retail and consumer sales, I wondered about the impact on associations and other nonprofit organizations.
Two questions and the analysis from this column grabbed my attention:
- The first question is how many of the frugal decisions being taken today are voluntary and how many are forced. This question may be the most critical as this is the one that determines what the majority of consumers will be planning in the years ahead. If one assumes that the effort to gain control of debt is voluntary it implies that the new frugality is a conscious choice and one that will shape behavior for an extended period of time.
- The second big question is whether the desire to lower debt is motivated by the need to get out from under the crippling debt that marked too many people in the last decade or if the desire is to really adopt a debt free lifestyle going forward. The consumer that seems to be evolving today is not all that different from the consumer that existed at the start of the last decade. The consumer that shattered expectations was the one that dominated from 2000 to 2008. This was the one that seemed to think that what went up would never come down – all evidence to the contrary.
- What does this mean to the new generations of association members and donors for charities?
- Will this recession-generated frugality create a generation with characteristics similar to the “depression children”?
- Or, perhaps lead to the “revolutionary spirit of the Boomers” as somewhat evidenced in the Occupy Wall Street movement?
Are you seeing members/donors changing attitudes about the cost of participating in your organization? If so, how are you responding to those pressures?