By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services & Conferences
Sertomans recently had a chance to convene together in Charlotte at the 2023 National Conference for two days of connections, celebrations and conversations centered upon all things Service to Mankind. Among those importation conversations were discussions on the current and future state of membership, fundraising, and mission.
One important topic at the forefront of these roundtables was the recruitment and engagement of younger members. Attendees were reminded that what qualifies as “younger” is subjective and going to vary from club to club.
Five ideas shared amongst the attending Sertomans included:
- Think outside the meeting. Younger members tend to have very busy schedules dominated by career and family. Find ways to incorporate meaningful volunteer and social opportunities that do not require them to regularly attend meetings. Younger people love to spend time with others but yearn for it to be outside of typical club meetings. Flexibility is key. If your club has an attendance policy, now might be the time to review it or even drop it altogether.
- Really emphasize service opportunities. Identify short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities that have concise expectations of what the job will entail, how long it will last, how many hours will be required, and how it fits into the overall mission and work of the club.
- Become members where they are members. If you want to encourage them to join your organization, consider becoming part of the organizations and groups where they belong in your community. Find them where they are already hanging out or volunteering. Some ideas may include local Chambers of Commerce, other active business groups, Habitat for Humanity, homeowners’ associations, college alumni associations, etc. Mutual relationships can also have many other benefits beyond just recruiting new members like potential partners, donors and sponsors of your club and its events.
- Don’t overlook student opportunities. Bridge the gap with a Serteen or Collegiate Club; this creates a natural membership journey. Also consider contacting former scholarship recipients. If your club offers scholarships, reach out to past awardees to invite them to attend a meeting, event or volunteer opportunity.
- Be open to new and fresh ideas. Don’t dismiss the younger generation with stereotypes. If you want them to be part of the club, you need to let them have a voice in the club. All members are different, but they’re all people. Everyone should have a voice and be heard. Most importantly, be open to compromise.
Sertomans attending the 2024 Regional Conventions will have the chance to continue to explore this important topic during the first half of next year with the featured session, “Engaging the Younger Generation.” In this session, we’ll look at the reason younger members choose to belong to organizations like Sertoma and ways you can engage with them in your club. We’ll also discuss the importance of building a community, supporting mentorship relationships, and offering benefits and programs that are important to the younger generations. Learn more about the Regional Convention education here