It’s an open secret that associations are deeply concerned about – and struggling with – our ability to recruit and retain Millennial young professionals, both as members and as association executives and talent in our industry. We’re trying all kinds of things – changing our membership tiers, dues structures, and value propositions; changing our volunteer offerings and opportunities; changing our work and office cultures – to try to attract young people and keep them involved.
Fortunately, there’s a ton of research on this generation – Pew, Project New America, the US government’s Corporation for National and Community Service’s Volunteering in America reports, etc. – and we’re using that research to figure out how to revitalize our organizations to draw them in.
Millennials share many attitudes that differ from their elders. One of the largest differences is around the role the government should play in protecting the environment and preventing climate change. According to a recent Project New America study, 76% of Millennials believe the government should play a larger role in environmental protection, and 69% call for greater involvement preventing climate change.
Which makes this recent piece in the New York Times deeply concerning.
The piece addresses regulatory rollbacks under the Trump administration, with a particular focus on environmental rollbacks. I quote:
“In many cases, records show that the changes came after appeals by corporate lobbyists and trade association executives…”
I know – and you know – that the majority of associations are not out there lobbying to allow their members to trash the environment for short-term economic gains. But we all also know that there are some bad actors, too.
ASAE has put an enormous amount of resources – time, money, energy – into the Power of A campaign and Associations Advance America, highlighting the good work we do in the world, like responding to the Ebola crisis or providing support for military caregivers.
And then the US Chamber’s Tom Donohue comes out and says, “After a relentless, eight-year regulatory onslaught that loaded unprecedented burdens on businesses and the economy, relief is finally on the way,” to the Times.
I worry that this is going to give our industry a huge black eye generally – “we don’t care who we screw, as long as it’s good for our industry” – is going to undo the good work ASAE has been doing highlight the good associations do in the world, and will make our already challenging task of recruiting and retaining young members and staff even more difficult.
Image found here.