It’s the question that gets asked over and over and over again:
How can we attract young professional members to our association?
And hey, it’s a valid question! As more and more Baby Boomers enter retirement, and more and more Millennials and Gen Z-ers enter and move up in the workforce, in order for associations to remain relevant (and in existence), they have to start appealing to those younger generations.
And we’re not just talking about “getting on their radar,” but actually getting those young professionals to JOIN associations. (Not the easiest task ever, we’ll admit.)
But good news! In the first installment of our new Membership Monday series, we’re addressing how to attract young professional members to your association. Read on for a few tactics worth trying!
Tactic #1: Experiment with networking apps, such as Cause Roar and GroupMe
Looking for a way to keep track of your members while also getting the conversation rolling between everyone? Networking apps can do the trick.
According to Inc., one of the assets Millennials value most is a sense of community. This is why your association should consider adopting a specialized networking app into your association’s learning management or association management software.
While all networking apps have similar features, apps like CauseRoar and GroupMe provide networking features that cater to nonprofits which makes networking a much more authentic process for your association’s younger members.
Let’s take a look at CauseRoar’s platform first. CauseRoar’s easy to use app is for associations, advocacy groups, and anything in between. It provides an exclusive, easy to use platform for members to meet, communicate, and network with one another.
Another app that works wonders for networking is GroupMe. GroupMe is a networking app that offers free group messaging on both desktop and mobile devices. It can allow your association’s members to share messages, photos, videos, and other forms of valuable communication.
Differing from social media, apps like CauseRoar and GroupMe create a private community that can be member-exclusive for your association, perfect for attracting younger members to join the conversation.
Tactic #2: Put together a summer community outreach plan
Community involvement is important to younger generations. Millennials are known as the generation who seek to do less harm and promote more good in their lifetime. So, your association could attract these eager Millennial members by offering volunteer positions on community outreach projects this summer.
By hosting a summer community outreach project, you can bring in younger members that may be on break from schooling and looking for a summer activity to pad their resumes with.
But what kinds of opportunities would Millennials and younger members in general like to participate in? Here are a few executional examples.
You can host a community-wide clean up project to help keep the surrounding parks and areas clean of litter. Or, you can host a food drive and invite your younger audience to help.
Whatever the project is, younger volunteers are looking to help out within their community. By providing these options to them, you’re sure to bring fresh new eyes to your association’s benefits.
Tactic #3: Create marketing materials exclusively for young professionals
Too often, associations rely on the same marketing materials to appeal to ALL prospective member types: student, associate, group, etc. But while your association’s benefits may be open and available to all members, not all of your members and prospects will view and value those benefits the same.
For example, think about your prospective young professional members. They’re just getting started with their careers, so chances are, the benefits that are going to appeal most to them will involve networking, mentoring programs, job boards, etc. More senior-level prospects, however, likely won’t resonate with those benefits as much. They’ll probably be more interested in benefits such as credentialing and training.
That said, to really appeal to prospective young professional members, it’s best to have a packet of marketing materials designed exclusively for them: printed handouts and/or downloadable PDFs, a page on (or section of) your website, etc. The more targeted your communications, the more effective they’ll be.
Tactic #4: Partner with local colleges
If you want to attract more young professionals to your association, start by going to where the young professionals are: college! There, you’ll find a whole pool of students looking to break into their corresponding industries.
Tip: To really make this tactic effective, start by forming partnerships with nearby colleges and universities. Reach out to their career centers and see if there are any marketing materials they can send out or post on your behalf. (For example, maybe they could include a blurb about your association - and perhaps a special student discount - in their weekly or monthly newsletter. Or, maybe they could post fliers with the same information around campus or near the classes that correspond to your particular industry.)
If you can build relationships with professors who teach subjects related to your industry, that’s even better. Encourage them to mention your association (and the importance of being a part of an association) in classes, particularly those comprised of seniors. And check your organization’s database! Are (or were) any professors members of your association? If so, I bet they’d be more than happy to spread the word about your organization - and their particular experience with it.
(And note: If this tactic seems far-fetched to you, just know that I experienced it first hand when I was in college! One of my professors was a member of the Public Relations Society of America and encouraged all PR students to join after graduation. And you know what? I did!)
Tactic #5: Offer resume workshops for recent college graduates
With many college students just wrapping up their degree this past spring, it can be intimidating for them to jump into the job search pool.
But your association can actually benefit from their job search and attract them to become potential members. How? By offering resume building workshops.
While all of your association’s career services are valuable, a resume workshop is what younger members are looking for. Offering useful industry insight into a younger member’s resume can help them land the job they’ve been searching for. Crafting the perfect, professional resume is something fresh college grads can struggle with.
Try volunteering someone on your association’s team who’s skilled in proofreading and writing to take a look at your member’s resumes. Or, you can even create a new committee solely committed to resume perfection!
You can offer suggestions on how they can improve the resume in order to make it more organized, easy to ready, and more impressive to potential employers. Using your association’s own industry knowledge, you can start attracting and engaging with a younger audience and providing them tools they need to start their own professional journey.
Don’t let your younger audiences slip through the cracks. Instead make attracting them a priority in your recruitment strategy.
With these five tips, attracting younger members to your association can be a hassle-free experience for everyone involved.
Want more tips for recruiting (and engaging) young professional members? Check out our free guide below!