Association Executives Meet to Discuss “The Millennial Challenge”

Association Executives Meet to Discuss “The Millennial Challenge”

According to a May 2014 New York Times article, the most common age now in the United States is 22. While this statement may not mean anything on its own, when it comes to associations and their membership, this recent finding highlights the importance of student and young professional members in associations in the coming years, as baby boomers retire and more millennials enter the workforce.

Throughout the course of this year, McKinley is hosting three Roundtables sessions for participants, each with its own theme. McKinley’s Association Roundtables Project brings together association membership and marketing executives to discuss challenges, share ideas and benchmark their organization among the peer group. The group represents associations in a variety of sectors, with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Bar Association and the American Institute of CPAs, among participating groups. The second Roundtables session of the year recently took place and focused on the key challenges associations face with the millennial audience including recruitment, retention and engagement.

Below are a few common challenges and successful tips shared by different associations during our discussion:


Students are often unsure of the value that associations provide and therefore are hesitant to join. Some associations have found success by creating campus ambassador programs and meeting students where they are by holding events, such as pizza parties, on campus for advisors, alumni or fellow students to discuss the benefits and value of their association. One participating associations found that posting short videos featuring young professionals providing weekly updates on member activities and events on their website serves as a strong way to recruit millennials.


Nearly every participant discussed their struggle to implement a successful mentorship program. Common challenges include finding committed mentors and creating successful matches between mentors and mentees. Furthermore, organizing and maintaining a mentorship program requires a significant time commitment from staff. One Roundtables’ participant has seen success defining parameters around their program including limiting the number of participants and holding the program for a fixed amount of time. This has allowed the association to bridge the gap between young members and those established in their careers.

Just as showing students and young professionals the concrete value they will receive from joining your association is vital to recruiting them, continuing to demonstrate that value in ways that will resonate is important to retaining them.

Interested in learning more about how you and your association can participate in Roundtables?

Contact Samantha Dina by phone at 202.333.6250, ext. 316 or by email at [email protected] and watch the video below for more information about Roundtables’ value and how participating can help your association.

Article can also be read on Coutler’s Newsletter.