The WAVE of Membership Growth is Coming



Did you know there are over 100 million people in the U.S. between the age of 9 and 34 as of 2021? This is exciting news because most people join associations in their early 30’s, so the future is bright for associations. Many people don’t recognize it, but demographics are one of the top influencers of the economy, and consumer buying habits as well as association membership. Demographics, or the counting of people, allows you to effectively predict many opportunities and challenges your association will face now and in the future. Don’t miss this episode as one of the leading demographers in America, Ken Gronbach joins Dave and Tom to openly discuss how the changing demographics of Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millennials are going to affect your association and the economy.


Here is a recent article I was featured in from Naylor Publication:


If you watch the news, you wouldn’t ever know we are on the front end of the largest economic boom in our history which will also lead to the largest wave of new members in our history. The numbers show the membership expansion will last through the early 2030’s. How do we know that? Two reasons:

  1. Just like the 79 million Baby Boomers drove record growth in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the more than 100 million people who are currently between 9 & 34 years of age will drive massive economic and membership expansion in the 20’s and 30’s of this century.

  2. Healthcare technology is keeping Boomers living into their 90’s. Adding 10 to 15 years into a demographic group’s life adds 10 to 15 more years of economic impact.

Industries poised to grow in record numbers

The combination of the above two scenarios creates a perfect storm of spending and growth by each of these two demographic segments. Every industry that caters to either will grow in record numbers including:

  • Housing

  • Healthcare

  • Medical Devices

  • Cell Phones

  • Food Industry

  • Beverage Industry

  • Electronics

  • Travel

  • Automotive

You name the industry… if 30 and 70-year olds are their target market, plan on 20 years of record growth. Now for the real question for your association. Do you have the right value proposition to attract them to joining your association. Many claim the new young generation are not joiners. Here is a news flash for you, Baby Boomers didn’t join anything in their twenty’s either. Why? No money and other priorities. Baby Boomers started joining in their early 30’s when they got their first big promotion, raise and understood the value of connection in their industry. The next generation between 9 & 34 years of age with over 100 million people will join in mass as well. BUT only if your association has value that hits at the heart at what is important to them.

Maximizing your value proposition and member engagement leads to higher retention in any economy. When members need what you provide (value), they stay. When they are connected to your value touch points (engagement), they stay. Member engagement solves EVERYTHING including volunteerism, meeting attendance, retention, finances, etc.


Drivers of membership growth

One key element every association needs to grasp is in today’s market, members support your mission, but they buy your value. When it comes time to write their dues check, I’m a firm believer that the actual value your association provides outweighs your mission statement for the vast majority of members. Hence… Drive value to your members and the mission takes care of itself. The question is, are you preparing your members for it by providing high-value services that engage them in a way that locks them in emotionally to your association? Within the economic boom, every industry will still incur major challenges to competing, including:

  • Market Disruption

  • Labor Shortage

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Robotics

  • Emerging Technologies

  • Changing Consumer Demands

  • Rapid Pace of Change

  • Developing the Next Generation of Leaders

These are just a few drivers of the future. Are your members ready for them? They will either be opportunities or challenges to your members and your association…depending on how seriously you take the rapid pace of change. I assure you that the pace of change is real and it’s only going to get faster.

You have a unique opportunity to seize the moment and help your members get in front of the rapid change coming their way. You can help to turn these potential challenges into high-value opportunities for the association and business opportunities for your members.


Bring your association’s growth A.L.I.V.E.

Over the last 10-years, our association has averaged 83% of our members being engaged in one or more of our key engagement points, and a 97% retention rate. This has led to over 2,600% growth in our net reserves, providing us excess funding to take bigger risks in innovation and to weather the current COVID-19 crisis. This engagement and growth come from one simple acronym called A.L.I.V.E.

  • ASK your members what they need know and what their biggest challenges are to thrive.

  • LISTEN intently for their highest pain points. That is where the high value programs are.

  • INNOVATE new or current programs to solve highest pain points.

  • VALUE creation on pain points.

  • ENGAGE members in the program with excellence.

Everything we have done since 2006 to drive growth in our association is filtered through the lens of A.L.I.V.E. We ask, we listen, we innovate, we create value, we engage. Works like a charm.

Having an effective high value proposition and engagement strategy is driven by making it clear, concise, and measurable. This calls for a great communication strategy that effectively pushes out your value through print, video, online presence and social media. All that you do should as an association should point back to your value proposition.


Be association strong

The next 10 years will see more and faster change than any other time in our history. It is critical, as an association, you bring your members the best and most current information on changing trends, emerging technology, demographic shifts and consumer buying habits so they can ensure their business models are ahead of the market disruption running towards every industry. Don’t wait another year. Make 2021 a breakthrough year for your members so they can seize the moment of growth that will take place in this decade and beyond.

Catch the membership wave coming your way. The future of your members and your association depend on it. Remember, there is strong. Then there is association strong.

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