While not a new conversation this is becoming a bigger issue in association circles. Association staff look at their attendees and notice much more white hair than in previous years. Then they look at their data and sure enough the average age of members is in the 40’s or 50’s. Alarm bells start sounding because what is the future of the association without more young blood?
Interestingly many long-time members want younger members to contribute their ideas as well. Articles and sessions get stale when the same folks get called forward again and again. There are younger professionals with new ideas, finding new best practices and trying new things. Things we can all learn from. The problem is how do we find, attract and engage these potential younger members?
This question, how do we attract younger members, was recently asked on ASAE’s Collaborate where Joan Eisenstodt wisely directed us to an article about IDEO’s work reinventing school lunch (interestingly, it’s not just about the food). She noted there are ideas from the article that can be applied to this issue of enticing younger members and I agree.
As you read the article notice IDEO’s process:
- Discovery – They get completely immersed in the users’ experience. They observe. They ask questions. They listen to stories. They become user-centric. They don’t send out a survey, they have conversations.
- Design – Once they really, really, really understand the users’ opinions, challenges and feelings then they start to design some new ideas.
- Test – A handful of the best ideas are then tried out or test marketed. Instead of spending resources launching full-scale they perform a low-scale roll out to see what might work in reality.
The process may seem mundane but it produces magic every time. This user-centric approach helps the IDEO staff see the world through users eyes and then solve the problems users are struggling with. Do you need to capture the attention of younger members? This 3 step process can catapult you ahead.
- We have questions that member surveys can’t answer
- The data you have cannot help you…. much
- Association innovation: 3 articles to get you started
If you are interested in the 3 step process, in particular the time consuming and difficult discovery step, for your association check out this method of member research which is specially designed for projects like this.