Making Membership Accessible for Millennials and Gen Z
- When asked about their experience with the association in which they’re the most active, almost half of young members, Millennials and Gen Z, responding to Personify’s recently published Young Members 2.0 report agreed that their experiences with associations have been “underwhelming.”
- Almost half of respondents in this study agree with the statement, “There isn’t a strong return on investment when it comes to participating in associations.”
- One in three respondents and two out of five Millennials agree with the statement, “I have no idea how being in association actually benefits me.”
Moreover, only 40 percent of young members report their experience is “worth the dues (I) pay to be a member.” When asked why they let their memberships lapse, young members told us, “(Associations) need to increase the value of benefits if they are increasing fees,” and, “Sometimes I need a payment plan.”
What is Affordability?
During a recent live webinar where we walked through the data with association professionals, we were asked, “What is affordability?”
It’s a great question. What is affordability? What can young members afford? How can associations work to eliminate those barriers and make membership more accessible to those Millennials and Gen Z interesting in joining?
Affordability is defined as the extent to which something is affordable, as measured by its cost relative to the amount the purchaser is able to pay. While the perception of affordability is shaped by value – the more someone sees the value in a particular good or service, the more likely they are to ensure they have the money to pay for it –young members face additional financial pressures:
- According to Statista, the median debt balance for Millennials living in the country’s 50 largest cities is $23,064. Student loans account for the highest share of America’s Millennial debt, comprising 40 percent of their total credit and loan balances.
- 45 million people across the U.S. are carrying student debt with a fifth of them owing $100,000 plus.
- Data from the Federal Reserve shows that the amount of student loans stood at $480 billion in 2006 and by 2018, the debt had mushroomed to $1.53 trillion.
Although they’re showing signs of a greater aversion to debt than their Millennial counterparts, Generation Z is earlier in their career and just entering the workforce. Entry level roles with lower wages and less influence over management purchase decisions, the burden of potential student debt and the costs associated with starting their post-college lives may leave Gen Z with less budget for discretionary spending and no funding for membership from their employer.
Aligning membership packages with the programs young members value most is paramount. Ensuring the content, networking opportunity and career support millennials and Gen Z are looking for are available is essential in establishing the perception of value necessary to getting them to commit to your organization.
However, curating programs may not be enough. Introducing additional flexibility into how young members engage and pay for their membership can create the affordability necessary to get – and keep – them on board