Our local and national civic organization clients do amazing work for the people they serve. But many are facing the same problem plaguing similar organizations: an aging and dwindling membership base.
These groups need a younger generation to step up and get involved. Moreover, we believe young people would join these organizations if they understood the work that was being done and felt like their involvement could truly make a difference.
In many cases, this problem arises from ineffective messaging. These groups are not speaking to younger generations and the youth, in turn, are not listening. One area where this is especially visible (and one we’re particularly passionate about) is veteran organizations. This lack of youth participation can be attributed to a number of issues but two are cited most often:
- First, as a country far fewer people are joining the military than in the past. It’s hard to build your membership if fewer people qualify. Point taken but if those who have served would join, veteran organizations would be in great shape.
- The second is one of image – when you say “veteran” to someone, many naturally think of their grandfather, forgetting the generations of veterans that have came since. A tougher obstacle for sure but many organizations are doing a tremendous amount within their communities and at the national level.
The oldest and most storied of the big three Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), the VFW, wants to reverse this trend. In 2016, they approached Hangar 30 to create a spot that would resonate with a younger audience. To accomplish this, we would need to create a video that highlights what the VFW does for our veterans and the community, and used a younger, more representative face to communicate this message.
As Hangar 30 approached this project, we knew we had to dispel one rumor in particular: that millennials simply do not join groups or organizations. This is simply not true as is evidenced by the number of organizations that are created and grow popular every year. In our own office, a quick survey of the millennials on staff were all members of different organizations. When asked why they joined, it came down to this – they understood what the group does and how it benefits the themselves and their community. Unfortunately, this is a message that many organizations have forgotten or at the very least, have have lost the ability to communicate.
In order to overcome this challenge, we focused the VFW’s message squarely on its youth. To accomplish this, we highlighted issues that important to younger veterans, featured young VFW members of the organization to speak on its behalf, and also cast a younger veteran as the focal point of our video. The resulting video was met with much enthusiasm within the VFW, and was even modified into a television ad.
If you need help communicating the missions you undertake, contact us. We’d love to help.
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