The National Rifle Association has begun claiming a membership of six million, up from “more than five million” in January 2016. Experts were unable to explain how the group could be drawing less revenue from more members charged higher prices.
The National Rifle Association suffered a sharp decline in membership dues last year despite a historic fee hike, according to financial statements made public on Thursday, The Trace reports. The statements, covering the NRA’s operations in 2017 and obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics, also showed a substantial decline in total revenue and a drop in the NRA’s ability to cover its debts. The 22 percent drop in membership revenue — from $163 million in 2016 to $128 million last year — is striking given that the NRA increased its membership dues in March 2016 for the first time in decades and raised them a second time last summer. It also has begun claiming a membership of six million, up from “more than five million” in January 2016. The NRA offers a variety of different membership programs at different price points, but experts were unable to explain how the group could be drawing less revenue from more members charged higher prices.
Dues from members accounted for just 40 percent of the NRA’s total revenue in 2017, the lowest percentage in a decade. In 2008, more than 58 percent of revenue came from dues, indicating that the NRA may have hit a ceiling on its efforts to increase membership even as demands on its commitment to fund the GOP’s political efforts — $100 million — continue to grow. “This is a continuation of long-term trends for the NRA,” said Brian Mittendorf, accounting department chair at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “Revenues are down across the board, and the expenses aren’t down enough to cover it.”