Attracting Younger Members to Your Association: What Do Millennials Want?

Attracting Younger Members to Your Association: What Do Millennials Want?

If your association membership conversation has turned to “how do we attract more Millenials?,” then this post is for you. Without recruiting new, younger members in the roughly 18-to-32 age range, your association could eventually become defunct, as current members retire and pass away. 

While of course every Millenial is different, there are some general trends about this demographic that are helpful to acknowledge. Here are six tips to allow your association to better appeal to Millennials. 

They Want Specifics.

It used to be that many associations could count on membership because joining was “the thing to do.” Networking was important, and the social aspect was a big selling point. 

But now schedules are tighter, and people everywhere have less and less free time. Many of the “solutions” that were designed to create more free time are actually eating up hours each day (email, we’re looking at you). Employees are expected to work longer hours, with the threat of job loss often hanging over them if they don’t comply. 

Millennials want specifics on how organizations can help them. It’s no longer sufficient to solely tout the prestige of joining an association or to make awards and junkets the focus of why people should join. 

They Crave Career Mentoring.

Because Millennials are obviously on the younger end of the age spectrum, they are still looking for professional mentoring. If your association can offer help negotiating the career ladder, it’s a big plus. Be sure you’re offering assistance like: 

  • Career-oriented workshops and breakouts at conferences
  • Online training
  • Publications and manuals
  • Certification and credentialing


They Aren’t Just Younger Versions of Baby Boomers.

Millennials are not just mini Baby Boomers. They have their own cultural references and their own way of working. Particularly with this group of potential members, it’s not enough to use the “but that’s how we’ve always done it” excuse. Millennials expect innovation at every turn because they were raised on a level of change that is exponentially faster and more voluminous than what Boomers or even later “Generation Xers” experienced. 

They Communicate Differently.

One of those areas where Millennials really differ from Baby Boomers is in how they communicate and engage with the public. The technology they find so natural can stymie older people. 

To reach Millennials, associations must reach out to them where they are. That might mean even email or phone calls come across as old fashioned, and texting and social media are more preferred channels of communication. If your organization isn’t trolling for members on sites like Facebook and Instagram, then they may be left in the dust. At conferences, meeting-specific apps and other technology can be leveraged to show you’re keeping up with the times. 

They Embrace Causes, Not Institutions.

As much as Millennials have been labeled another “me” generation, the numbers speak to the opposite. Although Millennial giving makes up just a bit more than 10 percent of total donations to charities, more than 75 percent of Millennials open their wallets for causes they believe in, according to The Millennial Impact Report

The key word here is “causes.” Less likely to give to their alma mater or other institutions simply out of habit or obligation, Millennials prefer to embrace causes, especially those that are solution oriented. This is well worth remembering when recruiting for your association. 

Peer Influence Plays a Vital Role.

Finally, peer influence is important when Millennials make major life choices, perhaps an effect of so much immersion in social media. When reaching out to Millennials, consider not only social platforms but in-person contact, preferably from a peer in their own age group.