An increasing number of associations are greying right before our eyes. Attracting the next generation member and conference participant has become, and will continue to be, critical to an association’s health. Many are executing plans designed to get them while they’re young (students and early-career professionals, for example). These associations are realizing this approach isn’t working.

Here are three ideas and strategies for succession planning:

1. Do the following analysis to determine your sustainability.
Plot age ranges on a horizontal axis in 10-year increments. On the vertical access, plot the percentage of members or attendees for each age group. If you don't have a bell shaped curve, you are demographically challenged. Young professionals will follow in the footsteps of their mid-career co-workers. If mid-career professionals aren't members or conference participants, your churn of early-career professionals will be high.

2. Early-career professionals are not interested in early-career education and networking. They want to be on the fast track.
This means they want to grow their network with the accomplished. They desire education opportunities that give them an advantage in the workplace. Don’t design networking and education for them. Target the accomplished mid- and senior-level professionals and early career will follow.

3. Bear with me on this one. The reasons younger professionals don’t join or renew are the same as why people are done with church, but haven’t lost their faith.
Churches and associations are both social institutions/communities. Your conference is the church. Hat tip to Josh Packard, sociologist and author of Church Refugees, for inspiring this thinking.  

What strategies are helping ensure your succession planning?  

Reprinted with permission from Velvet Chainsaw’s Sticky Conference newsletter.