The following is a blog post I wrote for XYZ University, a generation research and consulting firm.
An estimated 78 million baby boomers are set to retire over the next five to 10 years—for nonprofits, chambers of commerce and other member-based associations, this statistic should be alarming. Why? Because the majority of associations are supported and sustained almost entirely by Baby Boomers. Which bodes the question: Who will you turn to when they’re gone?
Enter Generations X and Y. They’re young. They’re smart. They’re busy. And they have high expectations, which can make them skeptical about joining or supporting nonprofits or member-based organizations. So as your loyal Boomers have one foot out the door, and Gen X and Y are giving you the cold shoulder as you extend invitations their way, how can your organization combat this giant demographic shift?
Give them the change they need.
The exciting (and scary) thing about change is that even though you may have a sense of what you’re getting in to, it’s not always 100 percent laid out. As a leader within your organization, you may be terrified of this demographic shift, you may welcome it, or you may not think it’s a big deal. Trust us, it is.
With a combined demographic of more than 120 million people, Generations X and Y are some of this country’s top performers. These socially conscious, tech-savvy, independent rock stars are open to change—something that may be of great benefit to your organization if you play your cards right. Gen-X and Y want to be a part of something worthwhile and meaningful. They want to see organizations that break out of the mold. So now is your chance to do something completely out-of-the box. Grab their attention. Stand out. They’re watching.
Be proactive. Engage before the “boom” busts.
On the surface, Generations X and Y are not joiners. They’re interested in flexibility, life outside of work and networking via computers and smart phones. Even still, there is great opportunity to engage this audience now, securing the future of your organization’s membership and financial integrity.
- Listen to the conversation: Find out where Gen-X and Y hang out and put your ears on. Monitor social media sites, query those you know who fit the demographic, ask pointed questions to find out what they want.
- Offer impacting programs: Gen-X and Y are some of the first to sniff out a fluff program vs. a program that truly impacts their community. Find out what is important to them to support and plan programs that will make a difference in their lives.
- Build personalized services: Cookie-cutter services won’t work. Think about how you can engage new members and generations by tailoring your services and membership to their individual needs. This can mean multiple membership, donor or program options. That’s good. They like that.
- Embrace technology: Stop thinking about what the next big thing is going to be and just jump on the train. Generations X and Y make up the largest percentage of Facebook users, they download coupon apps on their smart phones and they update relatives using Skype. If you’re not using or learning about the way these generations communicate make it a priority to do so.
Don’t miss your opportunity to plan for this demographic shift. There is great talent out there—it’s up to you to grab those rock stars before they pass you by.