Improve Your Millennial Engagement Through Better Understanding
Updated: Nov. 5, 2019 | Categories: Member Communications
You board is always concerned about member engagement – how to get them and keep them. And like many organizations, you’re most likely seeing millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) make up an increasingly larger segment of your audience. What is your chapter doing that’s specifically focused on this population?
Who are millennials?
Turns out, millennials value many of same things as your other members, they just express it differently and expect different things in return. But there are a few things that set them apart:
• They grew up with technology, which means it’s integral to their lives, and they pick up new technologies easily.
• They grew up with social media, the revitalization of the Women’s Movement, and increasing diversity in the world around them.
• They care deeply about issues like employment and health care, the quality and affordability of education, civil rights, and human rights.
Common Millennial Traits
According to the Millennial Impact Report by the Case Foundation, 10 traits characterize millennials “approaches to cause engagement,” and these 10 traits can be applied to engaging millennials with all aspects of your chapter.
• See all of their assets as equal. They see volunteer opportunities like financial donations, advocating for their peers to join the chapter, chapter administration, as equally important, so give them plenty of options to choose from.
• Are everyday changemakers. They value making local connections and doing good every day. Demonstrate how your chapter supports your industry locally. Have a student chapter? Introduce students to local employers and look for opportunities to engage in discussions and change at the local level.
• Believe in the power of activism. Millennials can be some of your greatest influencers. Encourage participation in discussions regarding changes affecting your industry whether political or environmental.
Millennials care about:
• Social issues rather than institutions. Though they want to understand the history of your organization, the fact that you’ve been around for 75 years won’t impact how they feel about your chapter. Instead, talk about all your chapter has accomplished, both small, everyday connections and big political changes.
• Using their collective voices. Empower your millennials to participate in chapter advocacy as a group, to connect on panel discussions, forums, etc.
• Supporting others and the greater good more than ineffective partisan politicking. Ensure your chapter focuses on the community it operates in, not just on your industry. Include local philanthropy as part of your programming, and consider days of service, scholarship programs, etc.
Millennials engage with causes:
• Through a range of sectors and industries. Consider partnering with organizations that support industries connected to yours.
• By employing innovative approaches. Ask them how to improve your chapter’s advocacy and engagement. They’ll provide ideas you’ve never considered.
• Through actions both big and small. For some, micro-volunteering may be all they have time for. Others may want to get involved in big ways, like board roles or organizing an upcoming event.
Millennials are influenced:
• Largely by their peers. They value the opinions of other millennials. On your website, in meetings, and in social media, showcase engaged millennials in your chapter, so they can see a piece of themselves in that person.
Millennials appreciate variety, so include a range of programming and different opportunities for them to get involved. Remember that the administrative aspects of your chapter – your website, your social media and even the location, place and time of your meetings all have an impact. Something as simple as shifting the day, time and/or location of your monthly networking meeting can make a difference. Instead of holding your meetings at the same place each month, try out the new restaurant everyone is talking about, or partner with a company and hold an event in their space and include conversations with some of their millennials.
They also want connection, to your chapter, your members and the industries you support. If you’re not sure what that connection looks like, start by having a conversation with the millennials in your chapter, to learn what’s they’d like to see.