Sunday, June 1, 2014

More on Generational Changes on Association Membership

The other day I was talking with an association executive about my keynote presentation at her national meeting. The title I’ve been given is: The Future of Your Leagues: How to Attract the Next Generation of Players.

Consumers participating in leagues hosted by her association’s members commit to two to three hours each week for 16 weeks. Gen Xers starting the decline in participation and it has continued as Gen Ys come of age.

Listening to her, I thought about the similarities with bowling leagues and asked if her members had read “Bowling Alone.”

“No,” she said, “they don’t see themselves as anything like bowling.”

That surprised me!

  • Both are played in leagues
  • Both require a commitment of 2-3 hours week during the season
  • Both are played at a specific venue away from home
Yet, her members don't see those similarities.

As I review bowling and this industry, part of their generational challenges stem purely from the numbers.

Think about the Numbers

Most associations adjusted during the 1950s and 1960s to accommodate the nearly 80 million Boomers. They failed, however, to adjust when Gen X arrived with about 30 million fewer people. And, now, even though Gen Y has about 80 million people, many associations have failed to adapt to the changing needs, wants and expectations of a generation coming of age in the digital era.

Clearly, programs, services and communications designed for Boomers are not working as well for Millennials.

Interestingly, one of the most read SCDdaily blog is on this topic. It was Jim Nagle’s guest post titled “What’s Happening at Service Clubs.”  

What is your association doing?

Is your association struggling with generational issues and/or declining membership? How have you dealt with it? My presentation is not until early July, so, please feel free to share any nuggets of wisdom or success stories that I can include. You can offer your comments at


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