When we are in search of entertainment, much of it is right at our fingertips. Streaming services, on-demand programming, social media, and a laundry list of apps have made it easier than ever to achieve instant gratification in real-time. For many of you (including myself!), this hasn’t always been the case. You may have grown up with black and white television, where programming was limited by today’s standards. I arrived on the scene during the dawn of technicolor TV (MTV, anyone?) and the advent of remote controls and the worldwide web.  

We also find ourselves in an era of customization where everything is moving faster and with more efficiency – and we can tailor it all to our liking. Technology has adapted to the changing needs of society to prepare for the future, and your organization isn’t different. Now is the time to plan ahead because a backward focus isn’t an option, we can only move forward.  

Long before the pandemic, membership organizations were struggling with planning for the future and finding ways to connect with young professionals. There has been a major shift in the member engagement cycle, and continuing to utilize old membership tactics has triggered membership decline and disengagement.  

It’s crucial for leaders like you to better understand the different values, traits, and membership demographics so you can accurately target young professionals and student members.  

Membership, much like television, used to be a spectator sport. Historically, people would join organizations…and then sit back and wait for the board to engage them and entertain them. This no longer works. Similar to the changing trends in technology, younger generations of members expect to participate differently as members. They seek interactive experiences and are looking for opportunities to be more involved. 

We have to understand that modern skillsets and values differ from those of previous generations. Instead of having one generation dominate your leadership, it’s time to transition to a variety of perspectives and collaborate to make our organizations stronger. Generational changes impact all of us, and in the membership arena, we’ve seen a complete shift in membership engagement behaviors. Young professionals (especially those under 40) don’t want to be on the sidelines – they want to be part of the action! They are eager to learn, want to lead, and most importantly, want to make a difference.  

I want you to consider what your association is doing to keep all of its players engaged and actively involved. Are you offering your members opportunities to participate…or spectate? You are in the director’s chair and it’s time for lights, camera…include your members in the action! 

Interested in learning even more ways to diversify and engage your membership community? Let’s connect, and find a strategy that works for your organization.