We see it more and more. A previously stodgy, good old boy business association becomes irrelevant in our new and constantly adjusting economy. The association leaders wonder why no one is joining their membership. Board seats go unfilled. Events are poorly attended. What’s the answer? Perhaps a dynamic shift in mission.

Business-focused associations are here to stay. Since cavemen gathered around the fire, we instinctively knew we were better belonging to a group of like-minded people than slogging through the bush alone. 501 © 6 Mutual Benefit Corporations, otherwise known as business associations, form for mutual benefit. They are not charities by practical or tax status definition. Sharing information, providing education, protecting their industry from unfair regulation, networking for expanded business relationships, mentoring and social opportunities are primary activities listed in most association by laws.

In come the millennials (ages 22-37). More than any other age-based group since the baby boomers they are watched with interest, their generational attitudes studied. 72% have chosen to stay single longer with no desire to rush to a partner, marriage, children and homeownership. A third of them avoid alcohol and generally eat more healthily than previous populations.

Typically a symptom of youth, millennials believe they are smarter than their bosses. Perhaps they are. They are certainly disrupting companies, even industries, and bringing fresh thought to associations that proport to represent their career paths. To attract millennials to your association you’ll need to understand what’s important to them. High on their list is charitable activity.

How can you tilt your association goals toward charitable causes that affect your industry? You may just find a ready tribe of new young members whose hearts and minds you touch.

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