New research takes a holistic look at young members, their views on membership, engagement preferences and uncovers a potential retention issue on the horizon.

Personify, Inc. (“Personify”), the market-leading provider of technology solutions for associations and nonprofit organizations, today announced findings from its Young Members 2.0: Understanding and Benchmarking the Membership Preferences of Millennials and Generation Z. The study seeks to expand nonprofits’ understanding of younger members, revisiting Millennials (born 1981-1996) whom many organizations have recently focused efforts around and including, for the first time, Generation Z (born 1997-2012).

“Recent years have seen the publication of multiple studies on how different generations interact with organizations to which they belong,” said Amanda Myers, director of product growth for Personify and study author. “However, young members continue to evolve and grow into their careers. We continue to see areas of misalignment between the expressed preferences of young members and how associations seek to acquire, engage and retain them.”

Key Findings Include:

  • Membership (still) matters: Despite unlimited access to digital information, learning opportunities and tools to grow their network online, more than half of young members surveyed (51%) reported being part of an association is becoming more important than it used to be.
  • Organizations should not depend on digital alone: While young members are often characterized by their use of technology, authentic, in-person communication between young members and their association is critical. Young members surveyed rated one-on-one conversations as the most influential tactic in building awareness and making the decision to join. They also play an important role in young members remaining engaged.
  • Community impact is meaningful: Almost all young members report an association’s commitment to their mission is important in their decision to join an organization, with over three quarters (76%) of African American young members surveyed citing this service to the greater good as very important.
  • Organizations are missing a major opportunity to make the most of events: While an overwhelming majority of young members report attending an in-person event for their association over the last 24 months, almost a third fail to receive any sort of post-event follow-up.
  • Demonstrating a strong ROI on membership has never been more critical. When asked, almost half of young members report no “strong return on investment” when it comes to participating in associations. A significant number of young members also report their experience is not worthy of the dues paid. While young members understand the importance of membership, this growing membership segment has yet to internalize the value – introducing a significant, long-term retention risk.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Study

Commissioned by Personify, Finn Research conducted an online survey of 1,000 Millennial and Generation Z association members who reported they’re currently a member of a membership organization or have been so within the last two years. Surveys were in the field in December of 2018.

About Personify

Personify is the market-leading Constituent Management and Engagement (CME) platform that empowers organizations to better engage their constituents, maximize revenue and optimize operations. For over 20 years, Personify has served as the technology foundation for organizations of all sizes from the largest associations, charities, YMCAs and JCCs to emerging nonprofits. For more information, visit