5 Tips for Recruiting Younger Association Members

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Kerry McCreadie

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Associations can be an incredible resource for young professionals! Membership gives them tools for learning how to:

  • Develop new skills in their field
  • Forge new connections through networking
  • Keep up to date with industry trends

But despite this, recruiting younger association members is sometimes a challenge!

Believe it or not, Baby Boomers make up a larger percentage of association members than Millennials and Gen Z. While it’s great to have members of any and all ages, young professionals are vital to the long-term health of an association. They bring fresh energy to your organization, and will eventually shape its future.

In order to bring in more members of this demographic, it’s important to know the right strategies!

Here are five tips for recruiting younger association members:

1. Research marketing channel demographics

Marketing channel demographics can change faster than the wind! Take Facebook for example: what used to be the platform for everybody is now considered the domain of an older audience.

If you want to reach potential young association professionals, you have to know which communication channels they’re actually using.

Here’s a few ways you can gather data:

  • Survey current young members about their preferred platforms.
  • Research current reports on the state of various platforms.
  • Analyze the engagement rates on past posts the association has made. Note which demographics were most active on each platform.

The key here is to keep your information as up-to-date as possible! Once you have more young members, it’ll be easier to learn about the latest platform trends directly from the source.

2. Reconsider your value proposition

Your value proposition is often what determines whether or not you bring in new members. Try not to think of it as a one-size-fits all tool—you should aim to target your audience and know what’s actually valuable to them.

When you’re framing the benefits of joining your association, think about what perks would be most attractive to young people specifically! Instead of guessing, try strategies such as:

  • Conducting market research on young professionals’ needs and goals
  • Crafting different personas for each value proposition
  • Holding test groups to compare responses to different value statements

No matter how beneficial you know your association can be, how you articulate it is everything! Identify the needs and desires of a younger audience, and then mold your value proposition just for them.

3. Create a referral program

An association’s current members are often the best resource for recruiting new people. These members can speak to the benefits of your association from experience. Don’t underestimate the power of a word-of-mouth recommendation!

Members who go out of their way to recruit play an important part in maintaining an active community. So how do you motivate them to start sharing? Set up a referral program!

A referral program can be just the push your members need to bring their friends and acquaintances into your association. Make sure that what you offer in return is beneficial—like a free ticket to an upcoming event, or a reduced rate on dues for the following month.

This is a low-effort and high-reward way to grow your membership. And if the new young association professionals are satisfied, soon they’ll be referring from their networks as well.

4. Consider offering some content for free 

Today’s young professionals grew up with free online resources that simply didn’t exist years ago. Because of this, there’s an expectation that they should be able to “try before they buy.” Unless this demographic feels like they can test-drive a membership experience with your association, they might be hesitant to spend the money. 

This doesn’t mean you need to start giving away membership for free—simply that you should offer up some free content! Get strategic with what you share. The free content should be enticing, but also give a clear idea of how much more value comes with a paid membership.

Another option is to set up a free trial. Recruiting younger association members can be as simple as giving them some time to decide if membership is right for them.

5. Personalize outreach

It’s hard to overstate the impact algorithms have had on the way people experience the internet. Millennials—and especially Gen Z!—have grown up with a modern iteration of the internet which curates content directly related to their interests.

For associations, this means that younger members will be drawn to content that feels personalized. The last thing you want when recruiting is for people to ask “why is this relevant to me?”

This is where it’s important to personalize your outreach strategies! Tailor them to your prospective members’ desires by targeting your messaging.

Some ways you can do this include:

  • Creating segmented messaging lists
  • Keeping track of the content specific members have previously engaged with
  • Exploring what members with similar demographic data have interacted with
  • Encouraging members to share personal information in their membership profiles

When recruiting younger association members, the more personal the outreach is, the more likely it is that you’ll get a positive response.

The Value of Having Younger Association Members

Keeping young association professionals for the long haul is what allows your association to continue growing and thriving. By targeting their interests, offering them valuable benefits, and staying on top of the latest trends, your organization can catch the eye of this important demographic.

The young people you’re giving resources to today will be the leaders of the future—invest in their success!


This article was written by Kerry McCreadie – MemberClicks, Senior Content Marketing Manager as part of our partnership with MemberClicks

What matters most to membership organizations? As the Senior Content Marketing Manager for Personify’s Wild Apricot and MemberClicks products, this is the question always on Kerry’s mind. Their goal is to help nonprofits, associations, and clubs discover the solutions that solve their most frustrating pain points—while growing and retaining their member base. The CEO and Founder of their own nonprofit organization, Kerry is passionate about nonprofit and charitable work—especially in the arts.

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