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Charles SalvettiCharles “Chuck” Salvetti is the AAPS member services manager/business systems analyst.

In the last two decades, the death knell sounded for many associations as times changed and membership declined, decimating these organizations. Although these associations no longer exist, the need for affiliation and learning is as important as ever.

Let’s rewind 50 years. For most professionals of the Baby Boomer generation, it was an obvious conclusion: you joined the association that represented your industry. Boomers realized the inherent value of being part of this community of like-minded individuals, and they saw the association as their primary source for industry-related information and professional development opportunities. This was their primary outlet for networking with their peers and for continuous learning and development.

As we all know, times have changed in those 50 years. Today’s Millennial (also known as Generation Y) employees view networking and community as something that takes on many different forms, incorporating technologies that did not exist 50 years ago. Information can be found freely on the Internet, although in many cases from unreliable sources. Educational opportunities come from a myriad of sources, including podcasts and YouTube. With the prevalence of smartphones, networking exists on-demand and in the palm of your hand.

The biggest challenge for associations today is competing with free. There is good news, however. It is believed that Millennials will eventually join associations, just not as early as those in the Baby Boomer generation did.

In Generations and the Future of Association Participation, by Arthur C. Brooks, Ph.D., he supports this notion saying, “Generation Y workers show great promise to join associations as they move into their peak earning years… given rising incomes and improving job opportunities, young workers show every indication of joining associations at even higher rates than the Baby Boomers.”

As they reach a point in their career when they perceive the greatest need for affiliation with their professional association, what one member benefit would you recommend AAPS offer to attract Millennial members?