Engaging Future Generations in Your Association
In today’s dynamic world with technology and demographics in a constant state of flux, a “one-size fits all” approach to membership recruitment and retention is simply no longer viable. As a result, associations must modernize their thinking. For example, younger members joining associations today do not hold the same perspective about membership benefits as held by their more established peers, thereby compelling organizations to redefine their membership experience. Meeting this challenge requires associations to pay particular attention to member value across many age categories and physiographic profiles to ensure that they are addressing the needs and wants of all members.
To maintain relevance to current and future members, a continuous process of evaluation and an attitude that is malleable and open-minded to adjust to the needs of all generations will be necessary to stay relevant. Put into practice, it is important to preserve a focus on the older segments of the current workforce (Baby Boomers- born between 1946-1964, Generation X- born between 1965-1980) as well as expand our focus to capture the attention of Millennials, also known as Generation Y (born between 1981-1996), now the largest growing segment of the workforce in the United States, and ultimately, what will be the next influx of workers, Generation Z (born between 1997-2012)1, 2.
To appeal to the younger generations now in the workforce and others poised to join them as they near graduation from high school and college, it is critical that associations consider a variety of factors characterizing these demographics:
- Need to make a difference
- Desire for connection and community
- Quest for recognition
- Inherently technologically savvy
- Enormous demand for their time, money, digital attention and social interaction
In order to address these characteristics of young professionals, associations can employ key strategies to focus membership outreach:
- Be mission and issue-driven – give younger members a platform where they can feel they are making a difference to individuals and society.
- Target specific demographics – find out what the next generations value and determine the messaging that will most powerfully convey what your association can offer to provide that value.
- Communicate with innovative and current technology– next generations are digital natives, so employ cutting-edge technology and social media to connect. Create websites that are interactive, engaging and mobile-ready as well as include engaging video and other high-impact digital content.
- Make it bite size – offer them micro-tasks and volunteer opportunities, micro-reading through individual blog posts and other content vehicles, the ability to weigh in on micro-issues at the grassroots level, and micro-learning options for professional development. Let them test the waters before committing to larger projects and activities.
- Be cost-effective – be mindful of the economic reality being confronted by the younger member (e.g., student loans, etc.) and consider establishing dues structures that reassure joining your association is worth the time and money required. There are many free online opportunities to network and build communities, so your solution has to stand out.
- Effectively on-board – first impressions still matter. Personalize initial interactions with new members and give them immediate value. Warmly welcome and involve them in your events to cultivate a strong sense of belonging.
- Provide opportunities to grow professionally and personally – create experiences for your members. Offer networking events with peer groups and educational opportunities for early career that are interactive and fun. The options to engage younger generations are many; their time, attention and money are much more limited.
In our next issue, we will dive deeper into the potential of educational and association conference programming to engage the various demographics and career levels.
Want to develop a membership marketing plan for your association? Contact AEG to get started today at 414-908-4924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1Fry, Richard. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Pew Research Center. 2019.
2Dimock, Michael. Defining generations: Where millennials end and generation Z begins. Pew Research Center. 2019.
Association Executives Group (AEG), an AMCI accredited association management firm, is committed to giving back. This year we partnered with the Hunger Task Force to help build stockboxes for local families in need. The boxes are comprised of healthy food that is delivered to local low-income families free of charge. Each month, nearly 9,000 boxes are delivered to families in Southeastern Wisconsin and AEG was thrilled to support Hunger Task Force with team labor to complete one of their monthly deliveries.
AEG’s employees took a day away from work to help those in need. “AEG was excited to spend the day with the Hunger Task Force,” said Denise Harris, CEO and President of AEG. “I am delighted to work with such a great team and to have this opportunity to give back to our community in a positive way. Helping others is not only character building and rewarding for everyone; it is truly needed at local non-profit organizations that are continuously burdened with financial and labor constraints. We will definitely be back to support Hunger Task Force again soon.”
Association Executives Group provides meeting management for AAOP’s 45th Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL
Association Executives Group (AEG), an experienced association management firm, provided meeting planning, exhibit and sponsorship services, and onsite facilitation at the 45th Annual Meeting for the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP).
AEG worked to ensure the meeting ran smoothly and on budget. The company utilized their event processes and tools that have been in use for nearly three decades to pull off a 1,700-attendee event within only four months of planning. AAOP’s Educational Director mentioned, “I would like to say that I think it is largely thanks to AEG that everything went as smoothly as it did in Orlando! They kept track of all the gazillion different things and were fantastically successful in meeting and exceeding revenue goals. Kudos, and thank you!”
At this year’s meeting AEG employeed a more modern “go green” approach and eliminated water bottles at the event and, instead, offered fresh water stations throughout the meeting property and inside meeting rooms, as well as provided a sponsored water bottle for refilling. The change was not only more cost effective for AAOP, it also addressed the emerging concerns with the impact of plastic on our ecology and portrays an evolving attitude that attendees respond to positivtely, in particular the younger and more forward thinking members of the organization.
Additionally, AEG took a proactive approach to exhibit and sponsorships sales to increase overall conference revenue up 41% over the prior year. The company developed enticing sponsorship opportunities, adjusted the floorplan layout to maximize the exhibit hall space, and positioned and planned conference events in the exhibit hall to increase traffic allowing the exhibitors ample time to network.
Rely on AEG’s full service conference management to plan and facilitate your professional events. AEG utilizes the latest tools and technologies, effective marketing and outreach campaigns to drive attendance and proactive sales and prospecting to bring in additional revenue. Also, rely on AEG for location selection, hotel and subcontractor negotiation and management, as well as our award-winning design team to create custom graphics and memorable event branding.
To learn more about how AEG can help, click here.