Peer-to-peer guidance

Leverage Your Assets: Stem The Tide Of Declining Membership

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May 15 @ 11:12 pm CDT

The staff and volunteer leadership of today’s professional associations are faced with two related realities. One, Generation Y is on the cusp of taking over from the Boomers as the most significant cohort in the economy, making them the future of membership. And, two, there has been a slow and steady decline in the membership of many professional associations, with this decline disproportionately concentrated in professionals in the first 10 years of their career. THE PROBLEM The staff and volunteer leadership of today’s professional associations are faced with two related realities. One, Generation Y is on the cusp of taking over from the Boomers as the most significant cohort in the economy, making them the future of membership. And, two, there has been a slow and steady decline in the membership of many professional associations, with this decline disproportionately concentrated in professionals in the first 10 years of their career. As early as 1996, Canadian Economist David Foot warned of the coming rise of (the yet to be monikered) Generation Y in Boom Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift. What the association industry is now grappling with was an unforeseen rise in technology, job insecurity and shifting values, that has led to that same Echo generation’s failure to take out memberships on mass. Side Note: As Generation Y and the Echo Generation are both defined as those born in and around 1980 or thereafter (although in defining Generation Y there is no definitive text) I intend to use these terms interchangeably, as I am also apt to do in conversation. THE SOLUTION With the constrained resources of many of today’s professional associations, intensified by declining memberships and the resulting decline in that revenue stream, no association can afford to ignore its greatest resources. In the case of the generational shift in memberships, professional associations must leverage their own staff to arrive at and implement a strategy to deal with the coming tide. As with…

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