The Future of Membership

A cohort experience for association leaders to reimagine membership for young professionals.

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Young professionals are not sticking around

Young professionals join professional associations less often and engage less deeply. These trends are well-established and consistent across all professions.

Association leaders can be tempted to believe, "When they grow up, they'll realize how important the association is, and do the right thing and join." But all of our research and years of evidence say this isn't going to happen.

We need to reimagine membership to meet the needs, context, and expectations of young professionals.

"I've been looking at member data for 30 years and I've never seen anything like the content and quality of Highland's research. Their work is incredibly insightful and actionable."

Edith Wilson
Board Member

"Highland’s work is excellent – timely, relevant, practical, and needed. They create actionable research and resources for developing value propositions, products, and services that younger generations will value. I highly recommend their work."

Heather Weddle
Head of Global Membership

Purpose and goals


  • Clarify macro trends and unique circumstances
  • Sharpen your point of view
  • Explore proven methods from innovation for breaking down and solving complex challenges


  • Learn from leading Millennial & GenZ researchers
  • Engage with leaders of membership orgs succeeding with young professionals


  • Dialogue with other forward-thinking, specialized leaders of membership in professional associations
  • Tap into the learnings, ideas, and successes of others




October 4-5th, 2023
Participants and their teams will meet other leaders and engage in highly interactive reflection, sharing, and discussions to frame the challenge, explore its complexity, share past attempts and current efforts across organizations, and set the foundation for the weeks to come. We'll also dive into the key principles of uncovering the unmet and under-met needs of young professionals in your industry using the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework, created by Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School. Finally, we'll explore reliable methods for rapidly co-creating and evaluating value propositions and new products and services with young professionals using techniques from the world of innovation. All cohort members share a relaxed dinner at Roanoke in Chicago on Wednesday evening.

Macro Trends

October 10th, 2023
10–11:30 AM CT
Explore the macro trends behind young professionals' dwindling engagement with professional associations with Tim Elmore, a pre-eminent researcher, speaker, and expert on Gen Z and Millennial behaviors and mindsets.

Understanding What Young Professionals Need

October 19th, 2023
10–11:30 AM CT
Engage in real-time interviews with young professionals, applying a JTBD method to identify needs throughout their journey from student to early career professional.

Creating New Value Propositions and Products with Young Professionals

October 26th, 2023
10–11:30 AM CT
Engage in real-time sessions with young professionals, applying co-creation and rapid feedback techniques to shape value propositions and services more tightly aligned to young professional's needs, context, and expectations.

Planning for the Future: Next Steps for Your Team & Organization

November 1–2
Blending practical planning with collaboration and creativity, we'll reflect and share on learning and insights from The Future of Membership cohort. You and your team will be able to create concrete plans to advance the capability and commitment of your organization to reimagine membership for young professionals, while receiving advice and feedback from other leaders and Highland's principals.

Cost & details

$9,500 per organization for a team of up to four participants. Teams typically include leaders of membership and marketing functions. Includes
  • All sessions
  • Private Slack community
  • Remote session recordings
  • All cohort materials, including Highland's guides for Jobs-To-Be-Done research and co-creation with young professionals
Applications are evaluated and accepted based on the association's industry, participating leaders, and membership goals.
Ready to reimagine your membership?
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