Membership Growth: Appealing to Generation X & The Millennials

By posted Nov 04, 2013 12:19 PM


As a society, we are creatures of habit.  We like to park in the same spots at work, we drive the same route to work and we eat at the same restaurants.  Is Friday “pizza night” at your house like it is at mine?

Chances are that over the past decade your association has been chugging along with the same annual budget, the same conference ideas and some of the same members.   Each year becomes a “cut and paste” of the previous year.  We all get busy and decide to just mimic the plans for the previous year or run the same email communications.  We also become limited by budgets!  We can think of so many more great things we could do, if we just had MORE MONEY!

With the rise of Generation X and The Millennials, comes the opportunity to make that extra money.  We just need to sell memberships to the young, up and coming in our association.  But what can we do to attract their attention?  Well, start with your technology.  The first generation to grow up with computers, technology is woven into their lives.  Some of the biggest players in technology like Google, Amazon and You Tube sprang from the minds of Generation X.   One of the biggest traits of both generations is their ability to give back.  They care about their workplace, world, economy, other cultures and bettering the future for all.  The Millennials, well known to be infatuated with social media, love a communication style and interaction that mirrors the social media interaction they get on Facebook and Twitter.

So what can an association do to make more money and appeal to these new generations simultaneously?  Start with the software you use to manage your association.  Your AMS (Association Management Software) should be on the cutting edge of technology.  It should reside “in the cloud” and it should allow you to integrate with anything you choose.   The system should be totally open.  Your members logging into the portal will know the difference! They are tech savvy and demand the best in layout, ease of use and technology.  Is it easy to register for a conference in your current system?  What about discussions?  Can they participate in a forum and/or discussion topic easily?  And don’t forget the buzzword “Social Media”.  Does your AMS integrate with Higher Logic?  Let’s not forget the roots of what an association is really meant for.  It’s networking, it’s starting like minded conversations and it’s connecting people in a common industry.   People join associations to broaden their reach and further their education, thus, the rise in web sites like Linkedin.

These generations are coming your way…in fact…they are already here.  Is your association running business the same way as was done ten years ago?  Are you still tracking your members in a spreadsheet?  Make an investment in the future growth of your membership now, before it’s too late and you have lost these generations forever.  Speak in their language and you will be noticed.  The result, more members equals more money, better funding and huge ideas!