Sunday, March 25, 2012

Connect With Monique: What Younger Members Want From Your Chapter

by Monique Berry, president
National BDPA

Your chapter is growing older. You say you want to recruit younger members – but do you really?

Many people in their 20's and 30s hear your desire to have younger adults involved – but don't see what they need in you chapter.

Here are six things you can do to make your chapter involvement more appealing to this age group:
  1. Make programs more relevant to younger members -- A lot of the programming they see is for the more advanced member. Younger members also need help with things such as leadership development, project management, and other skills necessary to advance in their careers.Make programs more interactive or hands-on.
  2. Why do they need to attend if all they are going to do is listen to someone read a Power Point presentation? -- They could just as easily read that information off a web site. Growing up, their formal education used a lot of cooperative learning, problem solving and other interactive strategies. Why does adult learning have to be so dry?
  3. Get younger adults involved ASAP. -- Younger adults have an action orientation. They don't want to wait several months to get involved. By that time, they will find another opportunity to give their time and attention.
  4. Make leadership opportunities accessible. -- By the time they are 30, many people are on a second or third career. Yet, frequently when they join a chapter they are expected to start back in the lowest level of the volunteer path – serving on a committee. In some local groups it takes 6-10 years to move through the chairs to be President. Many younger adults don't know if they will be in the same field or location in ten years – so why get involved?
  5. Be open to new ideas. -- Young adults were trained through school to problem solve and ask why. Sometimes when younger adults bring up ideas, they are often ignored or shot down by members. Just because they are young, doesn't mean they don't have good ideas.
  6. Be truly welcoming to younger members. -- I often here complaints that while chapters claim to want them as members, the younger members feel they are welcome to be part of the chapter – as long as they accept the way it's always been, don't ask questions, and do exactly what they are told to do.
Younger adults are the future of our chapters. We need to find ways to create a place they can call home within our organization. It may take some hard work and real change to pull it off, but how can we afford to not do it?

No comments: