What Membership Benefits Matter Most by Generation?

We’ve all experienced it: whether helping aging parents navigate a technology-forward medical system to having a dinnertime conversation with teenagers whose life experience has been so wildly different from our own. Generational differences are impacting every stage of interaction, and it’s never been more important to identify and embrace those differences.

To effectively engage and serve members across different generations, associations should offer a range of benefits, resources, and engagement opportunities that meet the diverse needs and expectations of their members.

Consider the following insights when evaluating your association’s member value proposition and when developing targeted communications. (You’re doing that, right?)

Millennials (Born: 1977 – 1995)
  • Value relevance and benefits: Millennials expect their professional association membership to provide tangible benefits, relevant resources, and opportunities for career growth.
  • Embrace technology and digital platforms: Millennials are more tech-savvy and appreciate associations that offer user-friendly websites, mobile apps, online learning, and virtual networking opportunities.
  • Seek networking and mentorship: Millennials value networking with peers and industry experts, and they actively seek mentorship opportunities within their associations to gain guidance and support.
  • Desire diversity and social impact: Millennials prioritize diversity, inclusivity, and social impact. They are attracted to associations that promote diversity in their membership and contribute to causes aligned with their values.
  • Look for engagement and collaboration: Millennials want to actively engage, provide input, and contribute their skills within their professional associations. They value opportunities to participate in decision-making processes and contribute to the association’s initiatives.
Generation Xers (Born: 1965 – 1976):
  • Seek balance and flexibility: Generation Xers often prioritize work-life balance and flexibility. They appreciate associations that offer resources and support to help them achieve this balance.
  • Value networking and professional development: Generation Xers value networking opportunities to build professional relationships. They also seek professional development resources, such as workshops, conferences, and certifications.
  • Desire relevance and practicality: Generation Xers want their membership to be practical and relevant to their current career needs. They value associations that offer resources, insights, and solutions applicable to their professional challenges.
  • Look for career advancement: Generation Xers are focused on career advancement and seek associations that provide opportunities for growth, leadership development, and access to industry experts.
Baby Boomers (Born: 1946 – 1964):
  • Value loyalty and tradition: Baby boomers tend to have a strong sense of loyalty and are often long-term members of professional associations. They appreciate the traditions and history associated with their membership.
  • Seek networking and industry recognition: Baby boomers value networking opportunities to connect with peers and industry leaders. They also appreciate associations that recognize their achievements and provide opportunities for professional recognition.
  • Look for educational resources: Baby boomers often prioritize access to educational resources, such as industry research, whitepapers, and professional journals. They value associations that offer high-quality educational content.
  • Desire professional credibility: Baby boomers seek associations that enhance their professional credibility and reputation. They value certifications, credentials, and professional designations that validate their expertise.

Of course, these are general trends, and individuals within each generation and across different trades and professions will have preferences unique to them.

So what to do? Talk to them. Using what you now know about general generational preferences, ask some great probing questions to get members of different ages and career stages to provide candid feedback on what you’re offering them – and what you’re not.

PS – Generation Z (Born: 1996 – 2015) is making its workplace debut now! We’ll soon publish a companion piece focused solely on this group – the future of associations.

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