Embrace Millennials: 5 Tips for Your Recruitment and Retention Strategy

By 2020, 46% of the workplace will be comprised of Millennials (born 1981-1996), making them the largest generation in the workplace. There are already more Millennials than Boomers (born 1946-1964), who most likely are the largest segment of your association’s membership. That means it will be nearly impossible for your association to remain relevant and have members in the coming decade if you do not compel Millennials to get involved in your organization soon.


Please don’t dread this information! Millennials have the promise to bring a bright future to non-profit organizations. They came of age during the Great Recession, so dealing with unemployment or underemployment and the exodus of Boomers from the workplace in a few years will leave a skills gap that Millennials need training to fill. This is an awesome opportunity for associations. Plus, Millennials have the desire to get involved and change the world and have the creativity and innovation to do it.

Here are 5 ways to embrace Millennials in your membership recruitment and engagement strategies:

  1. Don’t Write Them Off
    “Millennial” has become a dirty word. Sure, some are entitled (some Boomers are too), but there is so much good in this generation – embrace it. Also, don’t wait for them to “grow up” and decide to join. You need to show them your organization has a place for them. Educate your older leadership of the great things Millennials have to offer.
  2. Give them Meaningful Engagement
    A token young professional representative on your Board will not show Millennials that your organization cares about their needs.  Millennials are seeking opportunities to make a real difference. They want freedom to be creative and to innovate. They will not hang around on a committee to just do things the way they have always been done.
  3. Research Your Millennials
    As always, data-driven decisions about membership programs and strategies will yield better results. What are the challenges young professionals are facing in your industry? What skills do they need? What do they value (i.e. family) and how can you reflect these values.
  4. Look Like Them
    Millennials are influenced most by their peers. As your organization approaches 2020, Millennials must see themselves in you or they will not find you relevant. That means making Millennials leaders, speakers and content experts in your association.
  5. Don’t Blame All Your Woes on Millennials
    Associations are facing many challenges to remain relevant, including keeping up with technology, competition and curating meaningful content. Dealing with these issues is going to be just as impactful as “dealing” with Millennials in the quest for relevance.