It’s a new year, and that means your association needs to focus even more on next generation planning. The workforce is getting older and we’re running out of time to plan for the largest shift in human capital this country has ever seen. By next year, the majority of the workforce will be in their 20s, and that means 2014 is the time to come up with ideas for how your association will adjust and engage the next generation of members.
This issue affects all associations across every industry, so you certainly are not alone. Good news is you have the opportunity to get ideas from membership associations who are already doing a great job of engaging the next generation. One of those associations is the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), an educational organization for K-12 school administrators about 15,000 members strong.
In the last five years, ACSA has seen the number of retirements in the field rising as Baby Boomers are stepping down from leadership roles and allowing Gen Xers to take over. Sound familiar? Retirement and downturn in the economy made membership numbers for ACSA dip, but they are seeing a rise in membership and are working to increase those numbers by appealing to Generation Y. Margarita Cuizon, director of members services at ACSA states, “Our outreach to school administrators of the Millennial generation needed to be very intentional.” Even with rising membership numbers, they see their work to attract Gen Y to be “far from started.”
To reach Gen Y, ACSA created a partnership with a private industry also interested in reaching Millennials. With this corporate partnership, they were able to establish scholarships for Millennials to attend the ACSA Annual Leadership Summit free of charge. The Leadership Summit is primarily attended by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, so attracting young leaders to the summit is an important goal for ACSA.
The scholarships were awarded to 19 young stars, chosen by local chapters. While at the summit, the 19 stars attended informative breakout sessions, participated in networking opportunities and gained local and statewide connections.
During the summit, ACSA hosted a luncheon for scholarship winners to give them an opportunity to engage directly with ACSA’s executive director in a casual conversation about how the association can better serve the next generation. Discussion at the luncheon included preference for peer-to-peer networking, receiving professional development, and membership engagement. Association leadership will take the ideas presented and use them for future membership marketing.
The 19 young stars were also asked to help with the association’s soft launch of a new mobile app. They were among the first to get to use the app, review it and give feedback on the app as the final touches were in development for the bigger launch. ACSA was able to get important feedback from Gen Y and involve them in a meaningful way. When the app was launched, they kept it fun by creating a scavenger hunt using QR codes and features of the mobile app. Small prizes were awarded for completing the hunt. The app launch was very successful.
While ACSA may not be able to give all their young leaders scholarships to attend the Leadership Summit for free, they do keep in touch with them and keep them involved via social media. During the Summit, hashtags, and even a booth, were set up to encourage sharing information about the event on Facebook and Twitter. Live tweets were shared on screens set up in the exhibit hall for all attendees to see and jump into the online conversation. Gen Y loved the attention and seeing their tweets on the big screen, and it encouraged even more social sharing. Attendees and others who were unable to make the summit could still participate in the event and help create a buzz about it online.
After the conference was over, ACSA kept in contact with their young stars, informing them about local networking opportunities, ways to get involved in organizational leadership and offering continued access to professional learning events.
Through the support of their corporate partnership, ACSA was able to create a first wave of Millennial ambassadors for their association. These young ambassadors will share their stories, and help ACSA grow.
If your association isn’t sure how to get started on a path to become a Next-Gen Association, if you’re looking for ideas on how to engage the next generation of members, take a page from ACSA’s playbook. They are doing a great job of getting Generation Y interested and engaged in future leadership of their association.
Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?