There’s no doubt today’s association staffers have their work cut out for them. From a booming technology evolution, to a workforce made up of more generations than ever before, to constant chatter about Millennials, how the heck are you supposed to keep up?

Associations are tasked with a challenging, but exciting, opportunity to embrace the shift. However, you must start by understanding what these diverse members, with whom you’re trying to connect, actually want. Here are some insights, courtesy of Abila’s  Member Engagement Study respondents.


Let’s first look at the most experienced, and dare I say, passionate generation, the Baby Boomers. These folks, born between 1946 and 1964, have more than 40 years experience in the workforce by now, and probably aren’t looking to your organization for help with job hunting.

So, how do you keep this unique group of people engaged, and signing on the dotted line to stick with your association year after year? Well, the good news is a prime characteristic of members of the Boomer generation is they are incredibly loyal, and most interested in staying in the loop with news and changes in an industry they’ve spent their life’s work building.

Although they may be in or nearing retirement, they’re still invested, and deeply care about the future and the generations to follow. When connecting with this group, think about newsletters and professional development opportunities that keep them in-the-know. While it may be surprising, 61 percent of Boomers say email updates and newsletters are preferred communication mediums.

Gen Xers

Onto the 1965 to 1980 generation. Ah yes, the Gen Xers. Like Boomers, Gen Xers are passionate about the work they do, and are looking to further themselves in that work as much as possible. They’re in the more senior-level roles, so needing to stay up-to-date with industry information and ethical standards, as well as maintaining credentials are paramount for Xers. They want to be updated regularly, and appreciate information accessibility on your website, via direct mail, or most preferably, via email.

As they aim at growing within their specific career paths, offering Gen Xers professional development opportunities is more important than ever and this generation loves to learn online, so work that into your strategy, folks.


And last, but certainly not least, the Millennials. This generation is definitely the most talked about, and although annoying at times, it’s for good reason. According to Pew Research, Millennials now comprise the largest generation in the workforce (more than one in three workers in the U.S. is a Millennial). And, even more notable, half of this generation is moving into their prime years in terms of earnings and growth.

Yes, these guys and gals are no longer newbies in the workforce. Some of them have been around for almost 10 years now, and many are in management roles already. In short, you cannot ignore Millennials.

In fact, some might argue you should be thinking about them more than any other generation. They are the future of your membership, after all, and the impact they’ll have on the economy and business in general will be huge, so get those Millennials while you can! Here are a few tactics to consider:

  • Provide young professionals with online and in-person learning opportunities
  • Offer them job hunting and job placement assistance (when is the last time your association visited a college career fair?)
  • Give Millennials a la carte membership benefit packaging (remember, members of this generation are not completely raking in the big bucks, yet, so you have to be cost conscious)

So, there you have it, a detailed look at the three main generations making up our current workforce.

Watch Abila’s recorded webinar to hear association thought leader, Jamie Notter, along with Abila’s Director of Member Strategy, Amanda Myers, take a deeper look at each generation. Learn more and register.

And, read the full Member Engagement Study here.