How to Gain and Retain Millennials for Your Organization

What Inspires Millennials?

What Inspires Millennials?

Millennials. You know you want them. They’re young, they’re tech savvy, they’re socially aware, and they’re eager to work for a meaningful cause. Snag Millennial members now and you’ll have a passionate, inspired base for decades to come. But just how can you gain and retain more Millennial members? Start by knowing your audience.


Who Are Millennials?

The folks at Pew Research classify Millennials those currently 18 to 34 years old. At 86 million strong Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S., and they make up the largest share of the American workforce. This group is the most educated generation in American history. It is also the most diverse, with 42 percent identifying as non-white.

About 60 percent are entrepreneurs. They’re making their own way in the world following the economic collapse and poor job market they faced out of college. Many Millennials identify as social entrepreneurs who work to positively change the world and give something back—even if it means making less money as a result.

Millennials are more connected to technology than any previous generation. More than 80 percent have a Facebook account with a median of 250 friends. About 85 percent own a smart phone, and they use apps over general web browsers by a ratio of 2:1. Many Millennials communicate via texting or online chat, even with their parents. They’re also more likely to sleep near their phones! Mobile and social marketing are huge areas of opportunity for marketers who want to reach this group.

What Do They Care About?

Millennials tend to be socially aware and prepared to act. Seven in 10 see themselves as social activists. Four out of five say they’re more likely to purchase from a company that supports a cause they care about. Three in four believe corporations should create economic value for society by addressing its needs. Additionally, about a third will boycott businesses based on causes they care about.

Millennials demand authenticity. They are drawn to organizations with socially responsible initiatives, but only if they’re genuinely doing good for people and not just for show. For example, a company should go beyond a single day of volunteering or writing a check to charity. Millennials prefer a culture of giving back and want to see actual results. (Not a bad fit for your life-changing mission, right?)

Among causes important to Millennials is environmental responsibility. Millennials are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. They take buses and bikes more often than other generations, and they tend to work for environmentally responsible companies.

Millennials also value community and family (perhaps the result of moving back home during the recession). Their quality of life includes earning a living wage, but they also value time for recreation. Many cite the need for creativity in their work.

Know Your Base Specifically

Now that you know a little more about Millennials in general, up your marketing game by looking specifically at your own members and prospects. Here are just a few ways to get to know your younger base:

  • assemble focus groups
  • conduct feedback surveys after your event and throughout the year
  • track the results of your marketing promos to determine which offers, visuals, and messages resonate with this segment
  • perform demographic or data analysis
  • monitor attendance at specific events, workshops, and sessions to determine topics of most interest
  • capture attendee stories and experiences with a video booth

You don’t need hard data to know your Millennials. There’s a lot to be said for simply paying attention at your event. What are people talking about? Where are they spending their time between sessions? What questions are they asking at the Q & A? This abstract information-gathering can provide tremendous insight on how to serve your younger members.


Next Steps for Gaining and Retaining Millennials

Being a purpose-driven organization means you’re already a good fit for Millennials. They’re eager to make a difference in the world, and your organization can help them accomplish this. It’s a matter of connecting the dots: Raise awareness among Millennials, connect them to other inspired individuals, and continually reinforce your value through clarity, energy, and spark (a.k.a. your mission, strategy, and brand experience).


Awareness and HQCs

Simple as it might sound, one way to have more Millennial members is to go out and get them. Visit universities, speak to young professionals groups, purchase mailing lists based on age, and target the children of your gray-haired members. Once you get their attention, encourage high quality connections (1) through online forums, social campaigns, new member orientations, mentorships, or volunteer opportunities. Reassure their interest with inspiration:


Be Clear In Your Mission

Research shows Millennials like to see an organization focused on one specific mission, rather than spreading resources too thin to make a difference. Focus your mission, then clearly communicate it to your Millennials. Explaining the WHY behind your organization, not the WHAT, is especially important to this young generation.


Have Energy In Your Strategy

Use technology to your advantage. You can’t ignore social and mobile. Keep in mind most Millennials access the world via their smart phones, mostly on apps. Traditional advertising might not work. Maybe it’s time your organization had an app. Maybe you need a YouTube channel. Once you determine your triggers and the desired target actions you want your Millennials to take, consider a tech-savvy tactic for delivering your message.


Ignite the Spark Through Brand Experience

In addition to great sensory brand experience, consider a philanthropic or eco-conscious component to your event. This could be as simple as adding recycling bins to your event space or choosing promotional items made of recycled or reusable materials. Take it one step further and organize a river cleanup or longer term project that gives back to your community.


Why You Need Millennials

Millennials represent an ideal type of member for your organization. They are young and have the potential to be members for decades. They’re already inspired to change lives, willing to work toward a cause for personal fulfillment, and eager to connect. You just might have to text them to get their attention.

(1) Dutton, J. E., & Heaphy, E. D. (2003). The power of high-quality connections. Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, 3, 263-278.

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