Onboarding Millennial Members: Capturing Their Attention and Keeping It


Associations, at their core, are a natural fit for millennials. The majority of what they provide is directly in line with what this generation values. A mission-first, community-based approach is exactly what millennials gravitate toward – which makes selling the organization to them a walk in the park. Once they have bought in, however, what is their incentive to stay?

Millennial membership retention boils down to one key element: meeting them where they are. Understanding the needs of this generation is imperative to keeping this age group in the mix. Having them agree with your mission is one thing – having them believe and invest in the mission is the key to the future of your organization.

The secret to getting any millennial directly involved lies within your onboarding processes. Onboarding communicates your organization’s purpose, culture and goals – all while establishing relationships with the membership and staff. This journey can look like a lot a different things, but to millennials, a few things are necessary for their buy-in.

Place people before processes

Millennials thrive on community and culture. As the forerunners of social media, they thrive in groups both online and offline all to fill their need of being connected. It is imperative they understand they are not just a number to meet your quota, but an integral part of the mission. Spend way less time on that what of your organization, but thrive in the why.

Millennials have a strong desire to make a difference. They need to know by joining your organization they are providing real value and that you offer the support they need for what they believe in. While associations run by committee, alter the conversation and demonstrate to them how it works as a whole for the greater good.

Offer personalized experiences

A common misconception is that the millennial generation is entirely focused on the self. One of the reasons for this misconception is because of their need for customization and personalization. From customized subscriptions boxes to personal playlists, the rise for “having it their way,” has been rooted in their daily routine. Personalization can sound daunting if misunderstood, but its roots come from a good place.

Personalized onboarding experiences give millennials a sense of ownership. In this case, ownership of what they get out of your organization. They value direct involvement and transparency, and this grants them the unique opportunity to take part in the process and directly influence their end result.

Engage and then re-engage

Onboarding is not a one-time only event. It is a complete approach to integrating each member effectively into your organization. Let them know from the onset you welcome them with open arms. Ask not what they can do for your organization, but rather what you can do for them.

It is important to express the necessity of their involvement, no matter how big or small the task may be. Words of affirmation are their love language; make sure to speak to that. Try introducing the newest members at the annual meeting, host an exclusive new member reception or even try highlighting them on the website. This is not to say they are any more important than your other members, but rather, alert them to their direct impact on the organization. Praise them enough, and they could be the biggest advocates of the cause to date.

The number one goal of any onboarding strategy is to retain members and increase engagement. Onboarding should offer a firm foundation to infuse the excitement and passion needed for a millennial to settle in for the long-haul of your organization.

MultiView Team Expert Julie Bernhard

Julie Bernhard

News Briefs Executive Editor

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