Your association — big or small — can gain millennial membership
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
As I was recently able to engage with the members of the Flying Dentists Association throughout their national convention week in Lake Placid, New York, the discussion of "How do we get new members?" was continuously brought up. It is a difficult task for any association, especially when it comes to millennials.
They're a difficult group to appeal to, but they are willing to join if you put in the right efforts. In fact, more than one-third of millennials plan to look for new opportunities in their field within the next year.
"They want to learn, grow and become leaders in their organization," author Jennifer Deal writes.
You want millennials to look to your association to help fill the necessary skills they need in their workforce — strategic thinking, public speaking, teamwork, creativity, educational growth and leadership proficiency — but also that you're there to help mentor and network them throughout industry professionals.
In order to gain membership of millennials, you need to remember that ...
Technology is a part of everyday life for millennials
They prefer to learn about you from your website, which is often accessed through their smartphone. The first page they go to is "About Us," so make sure your website is professional, mobile-friendly and updated constantly.
When it comes to social media, 75 percent of millennials like, share or comment on posts. They're the ones who will spread the word about your association to their friends and family. This is why everything must be updated and posted regularly.
Now, this doesn't mean post every hour — if you post too often, you'll become a nuisance, and your audience will dread seeing your posts. Often, if annoyed, they'll just set a rule from seeing anything you post — I know because I’m guilty of it. That said, if you post infrequently, you'll quickly fade in their minds.
According to a study from Hubspot.com, if you have smaller following on Facebook, posting twice a day will result in about 50 percent fewer clicks per post. This means that your engagement per post will be reduced, but your total number of clicks will be higher than if you were posting only a couple times a week.
Remember that you want to engage your members, so if you're only reposting relevant news articles it won't do much. They want to know what your association is all about and what you're engaging in.
Having a conference? Update them on the excitement of your speakers, attendees and special events. Sixty percent of millennials enjoyed it most when nonprofits shared stories about successful projects and that helped people directly.
Now comes email. Research has found that 65 percent of millennials received 1-5 emails from nonprofit organizations. This means you need to up your ante and make sure your emails are easy to read — especially on mobile devices. To do this, create a single-column layout for easy reading, limit the amount of images, write shorter blurbs, and include lots of links to more information.
Millennials have specific wants and needs, but are hindered by money
Simply stated, graduates are in more debt now than older members. Think about it: Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, which is about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.
The last thing millennials want to do is to pay an outrageous membership fee to join an association. That said, if you prove to them that your association has incredible benefits, they won't bat an eye.
You need to make your association message part of the current conversation being held by millennials. They know when they're being talked down to and when an organization is being "fake." They don’t want to be sold to — I mean, they're the generation that grew up fast-forwarding commercials and ignoring traditional print publications.
Millennials care about issues more so than the actual organization. Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve, says that what motivates millennials is a desire to affect their cause through your organization with their friends.
This means, they're more influenced to choose an organization that affects a family member, friend or has strong community ties. Having your association connect to their causes can be a vital aspect in getting and retaining millennial members.
Once you have engaged members, you'll be able to get some donations. That said, you need to show the impact of membership dues and donations right away.
"Approaching them with a blatant ask for money right away may turn them off and send them in search of an organization that's more interested in engaging with them on a deeper, more consistent level," Randy Hawthorne says on Nonprofit Hub.
Seventy-five percent of millennials donated to charity in 2011, but in amounts under $100, according to the Millennial Impact Report: 2015. "Small donations might turn into bigger ones later so don't turn up your nose at them," Joanne Fritz wrote in the report.
No matter what association you're a part of, it's key to know that this generation is not as difficult to engage as you might have thought. Yes, millennials have some flaws — just like we all do — but they are truly passionate about causes around the world. Join in on their conversation, and I can guarantee that they'll join in on yours.
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