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Generation Y

Engaging the Modern Millennial Family at YMCA

For the past year, XYZ University has worked with the YMCA of the USA, surveying 5,250 Millennial members nationwide, presenting at YMCA conferences, and developing membership strategies and a Millennial membership-building toolkit to help Ys engage the membership of Millennial families.

For the past year, XYZ University has worked with the YMCA of the USA, surveying 5,250 Millennial members nationwide, presenting at YMCA conferences, and developing membership strategies and a Millennial membership-building toolkit to help Ys engage the membership of Millennial families. 

To celebrate the kick-off of the 2016 Membership Summit — the Y’s first membership summit gathering in more than a decade — XYZ University’s CEO, Sarah Sladek, keynoted the event and gifted her book to the 650 attendees. The following is a letter to YMCAs globally from XYZ University’s team:

The Millennials, born 1982-1995, represent the largest generation in history, the majority of the workforce, and the most diverse and best-educated generation in history. Even more defining, they came of age during the worst recession our country has seen in 70 years, and they are first generation to be raised in a post-Industrial, technology-driven world.

The Millennials are a changed generation, shaped by unique experiences and viewing the world with a renewed lens. They have different values, needs, wants, interests, and expectations than their predecessors, and YMCAs everywhere have begun to realize that what engaged members in the past isn’t engaging Millennials.

But there is a solution and the challenge that has presented itself should not overshadow the opportunity. In fact, there are several data points to indicate that Millennials are the ideal market for YMCAs. For example:

  • Millennials are extremely health-conscious, fueling the organic food movement, sporting fitness wearables, and enrolling in all types of running and sports events.
  • Millennials prefer to dedicate their time, skills, and resources to causes and community-building experiences; 91% donate to nonprofits each year, and 87% make purchasing decisions based on an organization’s commitment to a cause.
  • Millennials actively seek out experiences and opportunities to be in community with their peers, from concerts and social events to athletic pursuits and cultural experiences. For them, living a meaningful, happy life is about creating memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life’s opportunities.

Clearly, the YMCA has a stronghold on the market from each of these perspectives as the only nonprofit providing access to fitness and community-focused experiences. In other words, the YMCA’s founding principles from 1844 to build healthy spirit, body, and mind for all is extremely relevant to today’s young majority.

Millennials are leaders of the health and fitness, experiences, and community-focused movements, and they are raising their children to follow suit. The YMCA is the only organization capable of meeting all these needs and values, giving it a distinct advantage in the marketplace.

Undoubtedly, there is incredible opportunity on every YMCA’s horizon. However, change is inevitable and understanding what this generation wants and needs will be key to your success. This toolkit was created with these challenges in mind and it’s designed to help you create a meaningful, valuable, and sustainable membership experience.

It is our hope that Ys everywhere build upon the YMCA legacy and focus on providing must-have membership for the Millennials. This isn’t a challenge; it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to build a future-focused community poised to prosper and grow for generations to come.

XYZ University infographic based on Millennial and YMCA research.
XYZ University infographic based on Millennial and YMCA research.
Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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