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Notes from a Millennial: has your association gone digital yet?

A digital-first association instills a culture of progression; it relies on practices, processes, and technologies of the digital era to respond to members’ raised expectations.

Jen Walichnowski Posted by Jen Walichnowski on Mar 3, 2020 7:30:00 AM

Hi! Resident Millennial here to give you my take on this whole going digital thing.

First things first, I'm probably older than you think. Currently, millennials are between the ages of 20-37 - the target age for association recruitment as recent grads and individuals early on in our careers.

As a millennial, we were the first generation to use computers in school and widely adopt the use of the internet. This environment is table-stakes for everything we do, and associations need to adapt.

There’s a lot of change happening in the world today, from the datification of users and members to AI. It may be tempting to sit back and continue with the status quo. (I mean, it’s worked so far, right?) But, the atmosphere and your audience have changed, and in this case, time is of the essence!

It’s going to be hard to attract new and younger members to your association if you stick to the same tactics of the past. Your legacy systems may work for you right now, but they don’t work for me. 


Well, for starters, I have had access to the internet for the majority of my life, and I expect to be able to find whatever I need online. If I have to phone or *shudder* mail-in a form to renew a membership, I'll likely just let it lapse. 

If you expect me to read a printed magazine, I need to warn you that: 1) I don't like creating more waste than necessary, 2) the likelihood of me reading it for more than 5 minutes (or cover-to-cover) is very slim, and 3) it will take a very compelling subject or interviewee to catch my eye at all. I am more likely to search for the information and articles I seek online. I want access to content that is relevant, personalized, and easy to access, consume, and share.

Moving to a digital platform for everything from membership to education is essentially a requirement for an association to attract and retain younger members (like me!)

Now, when I say move to a digital platform, I don't mean just create a website. What I actually mean is make it easy for me to stay a member and interact with you, my association.

You can do this in a few different ways:

  1. Make sure I can access my member information easily by removing silos from the association. I don't want to have to contact three different people or go through three different websites when I have a question. The first person I ask, or online resource I check, should be able to access my information and answer me right away, even if I'm asking about another department. 
  2. Embrace social media and mobile development. I access the internet more on my phone than I do on a computer. If there's information you want me to have, for example, an upcoming event that you want me to go to, tell me about it via social media. 
  3. Update the content, please. I mentioned it above, I'm probably not going to read the full magazine. Make your content accessible online in bite-size pieces and in different styles. I'll sign up for the emails, but they won’t be read unless the content is relevant to me and easy to consume - try video or podcasts. If you give me a video that is only a couple of minutes long, is entertaining and includes the information I need, not only will I watch it, there's a high chance I'll send it to someone I know.

The moral of this millennial’s story is - go digital, do it now.

If you want to know whether you're on the right track to making your association digital, feel free to check out this book (Moving Your Association From Analog to Digital). Chapter One will give you the habits of digital and analog associations so you can see where you fit on the scale.


Analog-to-Digital Cover
Chapter 1: Going Digital - Everything Depends On It 

A digital-first association instills a culture of progression; it relies on practices, processes and technologies of the digital era to respond to members’ raised expectations.

Are you a digital or analog association?

Find out in the latest novel by Dan Stevens, "Moving Your Association From Analog to Digital - Creating Association Prosperity" - click here to get your free copy today.



Topics: Insider, Case Studies

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