The secret to reaching Generation Y
Michael McQueen is a leading authority on youth trends, a best-selling author of two books on bridging the generation gap, and a member of the Rotary Club of Crows News, New South Wales, Australia. He recently spoke to RI News about bridging the gap with Generation Y. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
M ichael McQueen is a leading authority on youth trends, a best-selling author of two books on bridging the generation gap, and a member of the Rotary Club of Crows News, New South Wales, Australia. He recently spoke to RI News about bridging the gap with Generation Y.
RI News: How do you define Generation Y?
McQueen: Numerically, Generation Y is between the ages of 12 and 30. But culturally, they are globally minded. Through online social interactions, many members of this generation have networks of friends around the globe who are only a click away.
RI News: How can Rotarians best reach out to Generation Y?
McQueen: Start small. Rather than approaching young people by asking them to join, engage them with short-term projects. Build relationships with them so they get a sense of Rotary’s DNA. When Rotarians are asked about Rotary by younger people, often they answer with how Rotary works -- the rules, traditions, and rituals. Rotarians need to explain the “why” of Rotary. Generation Y is outcome focused. Have a clear answer on why the outcome of projects is important.
RI News: What kinds of benefits can Generation Y bring to Rotary?
McQueen: The next generation represents an enormously exciting opportunity for Rotary. There are three reasons why. One, having grown up with the Internet and being so interconnected, young people are acutely aware of global issues and concerns. They believe that such a small world really can be changed. Two, they are socially engaged. Recent studies have shown that 70 percent of Generation Y actively volunteers on a weekly basis. Not only does this group feel it can make a difference, it genuinely wants to. Three, they are ambitious. Young people today are desperate to get ahead in their careers and are looking for mentors and networking opportunities.
RI News: Generation Y seems to be very busy, perhaps busier than previous generations. How can Rotary overcome this challenge?
McQueen: Yes, the demands on their time, energy, and attention are enormous. But when young people say they don’t have time for Rotary, they are stating a priority rather than a fact. Young people simply perceive Rotary as a lot of restrictive rules and time-consuming work. Rotary’s challenge is to communicate to young people the compelling reasons and benefits of joining Rotary.
RI News: How should Rotary be using technology to its advantage to attract young people?
McQueen: Use more multimedia. For instance, nobody under the age of 35 really knows what polio is. Their parents do, and they can be told how crippling this deadly disease is. But that only means young people will be intellectually pulled in, not emotionally. Use video to educate them about polio. Also, more clubs should have websites that engage young people.
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