What Millennials Want From Your Association

By: Joe Rominiecki

A report from the Southeastern Institute of Research offers three calls to action for associations to attract their next generation of members. [Titled "Wanted: Generation Y" in the print edition.]

We want millennials, but we don't know how to get them. In a survey of association executives presented at the 2013 Digital Now conference, 74 percent of respondents said attracting young members is important, but only 44 percent said they are satisfied with their ability to do so.

John W. Martin, president and CEO of the Southeastern Institute of Research, which conducted the survey, offered recommendations for appealing to millennials, based on SIR's generational studies.

1. Showcase your diversity. Generation Y is just 61 percent white, compared with 73 percent of baby boomers. Meanwhile, women earned 60 percent of college degrees in 2010. "The first thing is, you've got to say, 'I'm like you, and you're like me,'" Martin says.

2. Focus on job skills. "There's a big shift on how the gen Ys are looking at what's available for their careers. In fact, some are even getting rather discouraged," says Martin. Associations must be a source for lifelong learning and skills training.

3. Empower social change. Millennials seek to improve the world around them through direct action. "How do you show young people that you are into the community, living a purposeful brand?" Martin says.

Joe Rominiecki is a senior editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki is a contributing editor to Associations Now.