Associations and millennials 2   

AS a founding member of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations (Apfao), my organization, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, engages with another Apfao founding member, the Brisbane-based Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) whose members are association and not-for-profit leaders in Australia and New Zealand.

AuSAE organizes ACE (AuSAE Conference and Exhibition), its annual flagship event. I did not attend ACE 2018 in Adelaide but since I regularly receive AuSAE’s e-newsletter, I wish to share with you part of an article, entitled “4 Key Insights from ACE 2018 [and What These Mean for Your Membership Association],” written by Nicki Hauser, cofounder and director of FineHaus, a company that helps membership associations achieve their growth ambitions and manage their operations.

Nicki tells of the panel session on “Your Association’s Future is Already Here… Are you Ready?” where Claire Madden, director at Hello Clarity, and Brenda Mainland from Survey Matters, spoke about millennials as the next generation association members. “Claire explained that this generation entered the work force with high expectations about having a job they enjoy and wanting to make a difference at work— and put this in the context of Maslow’s “Hierachy of Needs.” Unlike previous generations, who worked to meet their survival and security needs, millennials expect work to also meet their social and self-actualization needs,” Nicki said.

Millennials want:

  • A purpose-driven career—to connect with why their employer is in business;
  • To be recognized for their contribution and rewarded for their loyalty;
  • The opportunity to collaborate and network;
  • The freedom to escalate ideas and challenge thinking; and
  • To feel like they have been heard and respected.

“Brenda, on the other hand, shared some of the key findings of their recent research into millennial’s attitudes to membership associations, as follows:

  • 39 percent said it had never occurred to them to join;
  • 36 percent said that they had not been invited to join;
  • 28 percent said they didn’t know enough about the profession;
  • 23 percent said they did not know who the association was for their profession.

To cap off the challenge of engaging with this generation, only 35 percent think associations use social media effectively.”

So, what are the implications of these findings for associations?

Associations are well-positioned to attract younger members and employees if they can articulate their “why” or purpose in a meaningful way.

Consider how your association enables and encourages contribution by younger members and remove barriers to participation, e.g., do you require membership for 10 years before joining a committee?

Find young leaders to serve as storytellers for your association, using their connections and networks to engage others.

Develop strategies to reach younger members. Include a personal invitation to join and clearly articulate how they can make a difference by joining and what is in it for them.

Consider how to help them make personal connections with other members through mentoring programs, meet-ups, collaboration platforms, introductions to peers—be a broker for introductions.

There is a general misconception that millennials are not association joiners. On the contrary, if the above considerations are met by associations, the indications are positive for millennials joining in.  I discussed this in my column here on December 14, 201, (Associations and millennials).


The column contributor, Octavio Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (Adfiap) and CEO and founder of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE). PCAAE is holding its Sixth Associations Summit on November 23 and 24, at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC). The event is hosted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and supported by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB). PCAAE enjoys the support of Adfiap, TPB and the Philippine International Convention Center.

E-mail: [email protected]


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