NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker said the layoffs, while painful, were needed to ensure that the association remains on strong financial footing.
"We want to be ahead of the curve, not behind, and make these decisions now rather than wait and have to make more cuts or freeze salaries or stop contributions to 401(k)s," Becker said in an interview.
He declined to say why he chose the layoffs rather than furloughs or salary freezes, explaining that "we don't get into our internal decision making."
Becker said because credit unions are more reluctant to spend money, conference numbers are "up and down'' compared to last year.
NAFCU's net income was $400,000 last year. NAFCU had $12.9 million in unrestricted assets at the end of 2008, compared with $12.5 million at the end of 2007. The association was hurt by the declining return on its investments, which was $247,964 last year, compared with $395,130 in 2007.
The association has 67 full-time equivalent employees and an annual budget of $11.5 million.
Earlier this year, CUNA announced more wide-ranging cuts. It laid off 26 employees, froze salaries of senior staff and instituted mandatory five-day furloughs.
Last year, CUNA's restricted net assets declined $7.9 million. It had $2.6 million in unrestricted assets at the end of 2008, compared with $10.6 million at the end of 2007. Its pretax income last year was $887,173, compared with $3.2 million in 2007. The association has a $56 million annual budget and 216 full-time equivalent employees.
CUNA and NAFCU are taking other steps to respond to the economic slowdown, including freezing its prices.
NAFCU announced last week that for the second consecutive year, it won't raise prices on classes and conferences for 2010.
CUNA hasn't raised the fees on its classes since 2007 and kept the fees the same for its Government Affairs Conference this year and plans do the same for 2010. But it is going to raise the fees for next year's annual meeting because it is being combined with the annual meeting of the World Council of Credit Unions, said CUNA Senior Vice President for Communications Mark Wolff.
The problems facing NAFCU and CUNA are symptomatic of the woes of all trade associations.
According to an association survey by McKinley Marketing reported in CEO Update magazine, 86% associations surveyed were experiencing budget cuts as of June 2009, compared with 35% percent in December 2008.
The survey also showed that 55% of associations had a salary increase freeze in place as of June 2009, compared with 11% in December 2008. In addition, 50% had a freeze on hiring as of June 2009, compared with 25% in December 2008.