An increasing number of associations are greying right before our eyes, . Attracting the next generation member and conference participant has, and will continue to be, critical to an association's health. Many are executing plans designed to get them while they're young (students and early-career professionals, for example). These associations are realizing this approach isn't working.
Here are three ideas and strategies for succession planning:
1. Do the following analysis to determine your sustainability. Plot age ranges on a horizontal axis in 10-year increments. On the vertical access, plot the percentage of members or attendees for each age group. If you don't have a bell shaped curve, you are demographically challenged. Young professionals will follow in the foot-steps of their mid-career co-workers. If mid-career aren't members or conference participants, your churn of early-career professionals will be high.
2. Early-career professionals are not interested in early-career education and networking. They want to be on the fast track. This means they want to grow their network with the accomplished. They desire education opportunities that give them an advantage in the workplace. Don't design networking and education for them. Target the accomplished mid- and senior-level professionals and early career will follow.
3. Bear with me on this one. The reasons younger professionals don't join or renew are the same as why people are done with church, but haven't lost their faith. Churches and associations are both social institutions/ communities. Your conference is the church. Hat tip to Josh Packard, sociologist and author of Church Refugees, for inspiring this thinking.
What strategies are helping ensure your succession planning?
We're continuing our webinar series at 2:00 PM EST on Monday October 24th. The topic will be Developing Conference Radical Hospitality, presented by Sarah Michel, CSP. If you'd like to participate, click here to review and register.
Attracting the next generation of participants is an urgent priority for most professional conference organizers. Too often we think that means injecting conference botox to give our event a more youthful, trendy hip vibe. Yet it is much more than giving our conference a face-lift.
In analyzing attendance demographics for an organization, I recently created a graph to display age ranges, each one spanning a decade. In this organization's case, the graph was heavily weighted to the right (as in "graying" attendees).
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And it will come as no surprise that67 percentsaid they would "prefer to join an organization founded by peers of a similar age."
The idea of millennials living at home has gone from social stigma to social trend, even approaching social expectation. In 2014, the Pew Research Center reports, 32 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were living with a parent--more than at any time since around 1940.
The prevailing assumption is that this phenomenon is a function of economic hardship, especially since it rose to prominence at the same time as the great recession was hitting hard. And while economics, in particular a tough labor market (not to mention the free laundry and stocked refrigerator), has certainly played a part in fueling the return home, the financial explanations only capture part of the reality.