Over the years I’ve heard every association worry about not having a younger membership. “How will we survive without the next generation joining our association?” Ah, but what to DO about it. During a recent board call, a suggestion was made that the organization should initiate an attractive low student fee. The next week, a different association board decided to reduce their student dues from $25 to free (they have no students currently). But money’s not really the issue, is it? What can an industry group really do to attract a younger membership? Lots.

There are two jobs: Develop the message or program and find out how to be seen by the targets. So, here’s a list of ideas I’ve come up with just to get the brainstorming started (I welcome more ideas).

Start with the reasons to be involved – how it benefits them:

  • Have mentorships with seasoned members (this can be virtual or in-person).
  • Offer internships at members’ companies (this is a valuable benefit to all).
  • Post a job board for those early in their careers (this must be monitored and marketed).
  • Have events your target wants to attend (in person or virtual). Subjects depend on the industry.
  • Run contests asking for their ideas for X (how to build something better or a service or product improvement). 44% say they like reward-based contests.
  • Post blogs on currently involved members in your target age group with testimonials on their experience. 84% say testimonials influence them.
  • Prove your association gives something back (whatever that may mean in your industry). 62% of millennials feel they must make a difference in the world.
  • Offer a scholarship (this needs to be carefully detailed). Fund it, give some away, and promote the opportunity.


Now, how to find the 25-40 group? They are everywhere which makes this tough (I didn’t say this was easy). 84% distrust advertising so that’s out.

  • Follow or join related FB groups and be active with positive comments. 90% are on Facebook regardless of what you’ve read.
  • Board members can write for their college newsletter, making those thinking about a career become aware of yours.
  • Be a professor for a day at a college that offers a curriculum in your business.
  • Hot tip: Ask your grown kids where they get their information.
  • Make sure the younger employees know about the association. Often, they don’t.
  • Be a sponsor for an activity your target people produce. (Could be a stream or beach cleanup, a 10K run for a cause, etc.)
  • Consider rebranding your organization to brush the cobwebs from the image.


If you are serious about attracting millennials, I suggest one board member work with your association executive to take the above tasks on as a vital contribution during their term. Now that’s a director legacy to be proud of. It takes that kind of focus and accountability or the moaning for next-generation membership will continue.

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