10 Ways to Capture the Attention of the Next Generation


April 25, 2024

As seasoned association members transition into retirement or reduced participation, engaging younger demographics becomes crucial for maintaining organizational vibrancy. Embracing the fresh perspectives, tech-savviness, and diverse skill sets of the next generation rejuvenates associations with new energy while ensuring long-term relevance. Here are 10 strategies associations can leverage to attract the next generation and build sustainable growth. 

1. Build relationships with colleges 

Associations can leverage colleges and universities to create a strong foundation for long-term support and advocacy. When deciding which schools to invest in, many are known for distinctive programs and will have a high volume of students enrolled for a specific area of study that may be related to your industry. The value of these relationships is that once students experience the value of your association firsthand, they are more likely to continue their membership after graduating. To increase the level of familiarity, you can start engaging with students as early as high school, building relationships with schools that often feed into local colleges you're considering tapping into. Consider these strategies when trying to grow your association's exposure amongst students:

  • Sponsor student events and activities: Support campus events, conferences, or competitions by becoming a sponsor. This not only allows you to connect with students directly but increases visibility and recognition within the college community.
  • Host informational sessions and workshops: Conduct informative sessions or workshops on campus led by seasoned, influential members. This can generate interest in an industry, educate students, and provide a platform for discussions and networking.
  • Attend college and university fairs: These give associations early access to young professionals about to enter the job market. They also allow associations to network with young professionals seeking internships or full-time positions in their industry.
  • Attend club fairs: Club fairs are an opportunity to engage with students who are already interested in the association's industry, creating potential future members and leaders. 
  • Offer free or discounted student memberships: This is a great way to get students in the door prior to starting their careers and allows them to see the value of your association without having to make a full commitment yet.

2. Offer scholarships and internships

Creating scholarship and internship programs demonstrates an association's commitment to supporting the education and professional development of young adults. By offering financial assistance, associations attract top talent and cultivate future leaders in their field. According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 57% of employers converted interns into full-time hires. Providing valuable internship experiences builds awareness and value among skilled professionals who are likely to continue their association involvement in the future. 

3. Sponsor NIL programs

The recent rise in Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) programs allows associations to tap into the interests of young athletes and sports enthusiasts. Associations can create an NIL program to sponsor, educate, and support student-athletes through leadership opportunities. Encourage NIL athletes to spread awareness of the association amongst their peers by posting on their social media and attending conferences and events where they can attract like-minded young professionals. Sponsoring these athletes sets them up for early career success while engaging the younger generation on your behalf. 

See how Multiview engages in NIL: GAMECHANGER Program

4. Provide career mentoring 

Consider developing mentorship programs that pair young members with more seasoned professionals. This offers valuable learning opportunities and hands-on experiences. Younger audiences are often motivated by programs that provide them with practical skills, knowledge, and opportunities to make a real impact. Focus on skill-building, problem-solving, and community engagement. Some strategies for involvement include:

  • Empower mentees as advocates: Encourage mentees to become advocates for the industry or organization by providing them with resources, training, and platforms to share their experiences. When mentees feel a sense of ownership and connection to the cause, they are more likely to spread awareness and engage their peers.
  • Measure and communicate impact: Capture and share success stories and testimonials from past mentorship programs to demonstrate the positive impact of the program. Utilize social media, websites, and other communication channels to highlight success stories and inspire other young individuals to participate.

5. Encourage leadership roles

Providing young professionals with opportunities to take on leadership positions within the association, like board seats and executive committees, empowers them and ensures their voices are heard. The younger generation should be valued for their fresh take on current issues and problem-solving. They also hold the most modern level of education within the industry and are more likely to be up-to-date on vocational knowledge. Associations can establish leadership development programs specifically for young adults, offering training, resources, and support needed to confidently take on leadership roles. By nurturing the leadership potential of young professionals, associations secure a pipeline of future leaders who are well-versed in the association's objectives and can actively contribute to its growth. This will also attract other young professionals who see that they'll be valued by your association, despite their lack of job experience.

6. Promote volunteer programs

Young professionals are often motivated to make a positive impact on society. Associations can engage the younger professional market by promoting volunteer and community service programs. In a survey by Cone Communications & Ebiquity, 89% of millennials believe companies should support social or environmental causes. Partnering with non-profit organizations or organizing community service initiatives encourages young professionals to contribute to causes aligned with their values. This engagement benefits society while strengthening the association's reputation as a socially responsible organization. 

7. Host networking events

Networking is essential for young professionals to build connections and expand their circles within an industry. Associations can host networking events specifically targeted at young professionals to facilitate meaningful connections. According to a study by Deloitte, most millennials consider face-to-face interactions essential for building relationships. Associations should provide opportunities that appeal to young professionals to connect with peers, industry leaders, and potential mentors, such as:

  • Happy hours 
  • Sports-centered events 
  • Vendor pop-ups 
  • Games & activities 
  • Shows 

8. Create interactive learning opportunities 

Move beyond the usual learning at conferences. Young professionals are eager to grow and advance in their careers, and associations can capitalize on this by offering interactive learning opportunities. A study conducted by Eventbrite revealed that 87% of millennials are willing to attend professional development events. By providing valuable educational content, associations can position themselves as important resources for young professionals seeking career advancement. Interactive learning opportunities such as the following can foster connections and networking among participants: 
  • Webinars
  • Online courses 
  • Workshops 
  • Resume-building 
  • Virtual conferences 

9. Podcasts & newsletters

Podcasts can be a powerful tool for nonprofits looking to reach a younger demographic. According to a study by Edison Research, 50% of Millennials say they listen to podcasts weekly, however only 30% of Gen Z and 23% of Gen Alpha listen weekly. The need for content tailored to those generational groups is valuable, but to do so, consider the following:

  • Create targeted content: Develop content that resonates with your target audience. Consider topics that are relevant to younger generations and align them with your mission.
  • Utilize influencers: Find influencers in your industry that have built audiences of younger generations and collaborate with them to create engaging content. This can boost the reach of your podcast and help you target audiences that are harder to reach.
  • Promote your podcast: Use social media platforms, email newsletters, and other marketing channels to promote your podcast. This can help create awareness and attract more listeners.
  • Engage with your listeners: Encourage listener feedback and engagement and use it to inform which topics and formats you use for future podcasts.

Get more ideas by listening to: The Association Corner

10. Engage on social media

One key strategy to reach younger audiences is through social media. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are heavily used by Millennials and Gen Z, with over 90% of 18-29-year-olds using social media. When utilizing social media for outreach, associations should follow these general practices:

  • Leverage user-generated content: Encourage your followers and members to create content related to your association. This can include sharing personal stories, photos, or videos in which your association is tagged or mentioned that you can then reshare. 
  • Engage in conversations: Actively participate in conversations by responding to comments, messages, and mentions. Initiate conversations of your own through polls, Q&A posts, or contests, as this will encourage younger audiences to connect and share their thoughts.
  • In-feed advertisements: Utilize paid advertising features on social media platforms to target younger audiences based on their interests, demographics, and online behavior. Experiment with different ad formats to see what resonates best with your target audience.
  • Create engaging content: Share content that is relevant, informative, and visually appealing. Use storytelling techniques, videos, and interactive formats to grab attention.


Engaging the youth market is pivotal for associations aiming for long-term growth and relevance. Understanding the preferences and interests of young adults enables associations to shape relevant initiatives and establish lasting connections with the future leaders of their respective industries. Targeting students and those early in their careers through special offers, networking, education, and mentorship captures their attention and shapes them into lifelong members. 

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