The Grey Hair Dilemma


As you look around the room at your annual conference, there’s a good chance you’re seeing more and more gray hair. This realization is probably followed by a sense of panic. What will happen to your organization in just a few years when the bulk of your members decide to retire? How can you attract and retain a younger base? And how can you preserve the knowledge and experience of your veteran members?

Step away from the panic button. Consider implementing a few of these ideas to attract younger members and keep your organization thriving.

Stay connected on social media

Social media is a one-to-one, 24/7 link between you and your base. While you might not see a concrete ROI in terms of new members signed up or conference registrations paid, the connectivity social media affords is invaluable. Your events happen a few times a year at best. Stay connected year round with a strong social media strategy.

Freshen up your visuals

Feature younger people in your membership brochure, on your website, and in any of your other marketing collateral. Seek them out for testimonials and success stories. Aside from showing younger faces, it might also be time to freshen up your logo or other visuals with a more contemporary look.

Actively recruit younger members

Fish where the fish are. Speak to your local young professionals group, purchase a mailing list based on age, or look for partner organizations with your desired demographic. Consider reaching out to university students to generate enthusiasm for your organization and your industry. A little investment now could pay off for decades to come.

Encourage involvement

Invite new members to serve on committees and get involved. Pair newbies with veteran members to make them feel welcome and to pass down that valuable knowledge and experience. Consider hosting a new member cocktail hour or open house to encourage connectivity beyond your annual events.

Explain the why

Lots of today’s young people want to be involved in something that matters. Share your authentic brand story and explain the reason why your organization exists. People of all ages will be drawn to you.

Some organizations dismiss social media or an updated look as unnecessary. They think, “We’ve never needed it before and we’re doing just fine.” But as your membership nears retirement and attendance numbers dwindle, you’ll need ways to reach new people—and the value they’ll bring for years to come.

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