It’s been a familiar occurrence over the last few years—associations serving various segments of the magazine industry rebranding or merging in an effort to stem the loss of membership, maintain relevancy in a rapidly changing market, or both. Along those lines, two small, but remarkably long-running volunteer magazine associations, the Fulfillment Management Association and the National Trade Circulation Foundation Inc., have announced plans to merge.
Both organizations were founded in 1948 to serve circulation marketers and magazine fulfillment professionals. The FMA largely services the consumer magazine market and NTCFI formed for the b-to-b industry.
Merger terms have the NTCFI organization and members folding into the FMA. NTCFI board members will not transition to roles on FMA’s board. The combined entity will retain the FMA name.
Discussions about a potential merger began at the end of 2013, but a vote in favor of it was made during FMA’s April board meeting this year.
Both associations have seen their memberships dwindle, but NTCFI was experiencing greater difficulty in maintaining its volunteer base. Its membership numbers had shrunk to just over 100.
The NTCFI had mulled other options—decreasing the number of events it produced, rebranding or rebuilding under a new mission or merging with the FMA, which has a stronger infrastructure.
The FMA and NTCFI, as do all magazine associations, have their roots in a particularly print-centric market that has changed dramatically. The circulation and audience marketing disciplines have been hit hard, with many companies outsourcing the functions, making it increasingly difficult for the fulfillment associations to maintain volunteers, board members and even find speakers for their events.