It’s an association migraine of the worst kind.
The tension is as thick as a dense fog. It’s at an all time record threat level. It’s like mixing oil and water.
Some try to label this tension as one of two traditional categories: threat or opportunity. Others say it requires more than identification.
This dynamic tension is not temporal. Nor can it be relieved with aspirin or the massage of forward thinking strategic planning.
It is the evolving model of how member-based advocacy organizations engage constituencies and attract sustained resources.
It is disruption to the capital D!
Disruption: Evolving Models Of Engagement And Support
In April 2011, The Monitor Institute released Disruption: Evolving Models of Engagement and Support: A National Study of Member-Based Advocacy Organization. The study of 259 national member-based advocacy organizations with annual budgets of more than $1 million focuses on sustainable advocacy in a Web 2.0 world.
Their findings are a snapshot in time. The story continues to unfold rapidly.
The Perfect Storm For Disruption
Nothing is settled about how even the most relevant and impactful advocacy organizations engage constituencies or attract resources. ~ Disruption: Evolving Models of Engagement and Support.
It’s the perfect storm for disruption:
- Web 2.0 technology enabling social networking
- Profound demographic and generational changes linked to and leveraged by the new technologies.
In short, Millennials are adopting and embracing new social technology tools that enable new ways to self-organize around social, political and cause issues.
Three Critical Findings
Here are three critical findings.
1. The benefits of traditional membership are not adequate to engage Millennials.
Millennials are simply not as interested in joining traditional established member-based organizations.
They don’t care about being identified as a member. The value proposition is not clear to them. And they don’t align quid pro quo with the traditional benefits of membership.
As nonprofit’s most loyal members retire and leave, organizations struggle to recruit and retain a new generation of supporters.
Membership as we know it is a myth of the past. It is not going to serve us well going forward. ~ Disruption: Evolving Models of Engagement and Support.
2. Millennials participation is more sporadic and activity or event based.
Millennials apply Facebook, Twitter and more to self-organize and participate with others around the issues they care about. Millennials want to influence and act on their own or with groups of friends.
Members of the past were happy to pay the organization to influence and act on their behalf. The expectation has shifted.
3. Traditional nonprofit methods do not inspire Millennials to give.
Whether it’s their time, energy or money, Millennials give in response to an event or issue. They tend to be one-time givers.
The association’s traditional methods of recruiting volunteers and donors do not connect with Millennials.
Associations need to accelerate the transition to online and new media by coordinating across silos in marketing, fundraising, member engagement and media relations.
Now is the time of disruption. Now is the time for experimentation. Now is the time for collaboration.
How will the evolving external context (tech advances, aging Boomers, down economy, etc.) affect the ability of member-based advocacy organization to be effective and garner needed support? What does strong continued reliance on conference revenues or foundation funding or high sponsorship or (insert your thoughts here) mean for the relevance of advocacy organizations?