Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Generation Z

For associations looking to reach the next generation of members, it helps to understand the landscape—and understand that the landscape is not a monolith.

It feels like just yesterday that we couldn’t get away from talking about millennials—and now the hype around Generation Z feels like déjà vu.

But this generation, most of whom were born after 2000, is creating important questions for associations looking to draw fresh interest and attract young members and organizational talent. Gen Z is a hot topic for a reason—and there are already plenty of insights for how to reach its members.

But remember: Just because a generational trend might seem accurate doesn’t mean that it’s true across the board. Take the information here as guidance, not rule.

Read on for some insights from our archive:

Are You Ready for Generation Z? This piece by Dawn Watkins Wiese, Ph.D., and Meghan Grace of the management consulting firm Plaid is a solid introduction to the generation, which was just entering the workforce when the article was published in 2018. Wiese and Grace point out the generation’s immersion in technology: “Because they’ve never known a world without computers and the internet, and because their smartphones and mobile technology seem to be an extension of their physical selves, they have an understanding of and ability to wield technology that is one of their strongest assets to organizations,” they wrote.

‌What Does Generation Z Look For in Online Communities? This piece, featuring an interview with Community by Association’s Marjorie Anderson, makes the case that younger generations may find in niche communities what older people found in sites like Facebook. “What they’re really looking for is a way to meaningfully connect with the information, resources, and people that appeal to their core beliefs and values,” she said.

Generation Z Wants to Know Your Mission—Are You Doing Enough to Highlight It? LIke other generations, younger people are struggling to find trust in institutions. They’re looking for something bigger to grasp onto from associations and other similar groups. Ellen Kim, founder and creative director of the firm Graphek, suggests that tapping into emotion can help associations reach this audience. “Without the emotional imprint, your call to action is useless,” Kim said. “Actions speak louder than words. Use your digital platforms to get the word out.”

What the Arrival of Gen Z Means for Membership. Related to the ideas in the piece above, this article by Joshua Lamangan of RIMS—the Risk Management Society argues that associations need to consider brand engagement when trying to reach the youngest generation of members—and that discussions around diversity need to be a part of it. “If you lack something as simple as a statement about your organization’s commitment to D+I, you will likely create a negative impression on prospective Gen Z members who might well share that impression and influence their peers to not join as well,” he wrote.

Should Your Association Consider Adding a Gen Z Membership Tier? Making your association more inviting for Generation Z is one thing—explicitly inviting them is another. Generational expert Sarah Sladek of consulting firm XYZ University compared the situation to what happened after the 2008 recession, when many millennial employees were joining associations for the first time. “In many ways, we’re seeing a repeat of that market environment now, as associations are scrambling to figure out ways to appeal to young people,” she said, adding that it’s important to understand the audience’s consumption and creation habits.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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