Less than one percent of association members are in the 25 – 34 age range. This was one shocking statistic I learned from this year’s Membership2020 event that took place on June 8th in Washington D.C. Membership2020 is a one-day conference taught by Sarah Sladek, a best-selling author, and researcher on the topic of membership engagement and future workforce trends. She hosts this annual event, in partnership with Association TRENDS, to teach member organizations how to increase value and grow membership among younger generations. The conference consisted of sessions, group activities, discussions, and games. Attendees of Membership2020 represented organizations large and small from across the nation. They were encouraged to speak up, share their stories, and ask questions.
During one activity Sarah calls “Survey Says”, she asked conference attendees to get into groups based on what generation in which they fall. Group names ranged from #squad to XY Boom. Sarah called out questions with multiple choice answers and each group decided together which choice they thought was correct. After finding out that 17% of association members represented the 35 – 44 age range, Sarah hit everyone with the fun, yet shocking, fact that less than one percent of association members are aged 25 – 34. And that’s why Sarah Sladek does what she does.
What can associations be doing to reach out to these younger members? Are member organizations doomed to fade out as younger generations enter the workforce and member-loyal generations retire? What can these organizations be doing to attract younger audiences and what can they be changing to fit this new modern age?
The answer? A lot. Membership2020 didn’t just focus on the problems. It offered real, clear, and easily accessible solutions. Some of these solutions included upgrading the way organizations offer benefits, changing communication within an organization, and creating buy-in amongst organization staff and leadership. Generation Z grew up with video as one of the main ways they receive and retain information. Incorporating video into an organization’s learning programs can help broaden the program’s audience. Communication is constantly changing. During the panel session, The New Membership Mindset, one attendee asked about the trouble she was having getting young members to communicate and interact with one another. One panel expert suggested she change the channels of communication, encouraging group messaging and Facebook chats. The professionals that attended this event know how important increasing young membership is and will continue to be in the future. But not everyone in their organizations agrees or knows the extent of its significance. Getting buy-in amongst an organization’s staff, leadership, and members make it easier to implement the suggestions and solutions attendees learned at Membership2020.
Association TRENDS was excited to host this event and meet and interact with all the attendees. Were you unable to attend? That’s ok! We are already gearing up for next year’s Membership2020 and in the meantime, Association TRENDS has numerous resources you can use. Check out the e-learning course created by Sarah Sladek, Millennials to Members, a self-paced online course to gain members, grow revenues and stay relevant. Visit learn.columbiabooks.com/courses/millennials-to-members today!