Association’s Multigenerational Future
By Laura Weaver, CMP
Society of American Florists
Education Conference Committee Member
For me, the Multigenerational Mix session at the PCMA Educational Conference was an eye opener. Most people don’t know that by the year 2015, the Gen Y/Millennial generation will make up 75% of the workforce! That’s way more than when the Baby Boomers were in their heyday. Many industries and associations are aging out – so you need to know your demographics in order to see where your members are in the lifespan of their careers. If there is no pipeline of new recruits, what do you do?
I found it interesting that each of the generations have different needs or wants from their membership in an association. For example, the Traditionalists (those born before 1945) have a wealth of knowledge about the industry and believe in giving back. The Baby Boomers (1946-1964) live to work and have built a great career, and engagement is the key for them. The Generation X’rs (1965-1981) want a work/life balance and for them it’s what the association brings to the table. The Generation Y/Millennials are technologically driven and will be job jumpers, so in order to keep them involved in your association you need to create meaningful experiences that focus on work and life.
To remain relevant across generational audiences, organization must consider each segment’s unique needs/wants and position their products, services and events in a manner that is meaningful and speaks directly to them.
Members gravitate to organizations that they “see themselves in”, and it must happen on all levels. If Gen Y is the future of the industry then they need to be “at the table” – have them be involved on committees, part of the Board, even volunteering at your meetings.
What is my plan for after this conference:
1) Do a survey of our members to see what generation they fit into and ask them what they want or expect from the association.
2) Use those responses to map out our member demographics for 3-5 years from now.
3) Begin to incorporate generational preferences into our marketing, conference planning, educational sessions and products.
So how do you grow the younger generation in your association? I think that there are a number of good answers to that… have products and services that meet their needs, engage them at conferences with meaningfully experiences that are technological in nature, and work to include and engage them in all levels of the association in leadership.