Making SMERF Meetings Work

As social, military, education, religious, and fraternal (SMERF) organizations strive to thrive in our nation, many recognize that they need attract Millenials and other younger members to keep afloat. So what are SMERFs doing to attract the younger demographic to their events or their organizations as a whole?


People will always want to connect for milestone events. But as the population ages, the ability to accommodate multigenerational needs will become increasingly important. Venues will have to provide facilities that are both friendly to the aging body but also be entertain the Millennials who are constantly looking for a new active experience. Attracting Millennials is all about providing a unique experience.  Remember, they are looking for something that is Instagram worthy.


Finding a venue that is suitable for multiple generations is not easy since boomers, and some veteran and silent generation people, will continue to attend meetings. The challenge is more for SMERF than corporate planners—where the audience is likely to be employees who will be more in the similar age range—include:

  • Finding a balance in programming and entertainment that meets the needs of multiple generations.
  • Ensuring that venues are more than ADA compliant.
  • Staying relevant to the needs of changing demographics—beyond generation, looking at religious and ethnic differences as the population changes.
  • Pricing sensitively, as many Millennials are paying off college loans; while many boomers are living solely on Social Security

Of course fraternities and sororities have attracted Millennials for the past 15 years. It is the age group that is filtering through their ranks right now.

The challenge will be to engage them with programming that meets their heightened use of technology with the same information that all groups need about the organization. The goal is to get people to your meeting and make it interesting and informative.