Since its inception in October 2011, the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) Young Professionals (YP) has achieved some excellent results, albeit with some teething pains.

The UNAA YP involves young professionals throughout Australia in the work of the United Nations and raises funds for its sister organisations and their vital initiatives.

While there have been set-backs and hurdles - such as venues reneging support last minute and sourcing on-going partnerships - there are definitely benefits to being a young organisation. There are no bad habits to inherit. There is a vibrant, energetic team.  And there is an untapped audience the UNAA YP gets to make a stellar first impression with.

The NSW Leadership Team - made up of dedicated volunteers who work across various sectors including law, recruitment, sustainability, finance, and public relations - has worked hard to bring events to life that have educated our counterparts about the work of the United Nations. The UNAA YP has addressed global issues at a local level to keep topics engaging, relatable, and ultimately empowering our audiences into action.

The program has been so successful the UNAA YP has expanded into the ACT, with that Chapter launching next month. The Queensland Chapter is next to be established.

Engaging young professionals has proven to be a delicate balancing act.

The reason the program has been so successful is because the UNAA YP is run by young professionals for young professionals. So if an idea does not interest the Leadership Team, the Team knows it will not appeal to a wider audience.

This year, the Leadership Team has strategically designed events to cover important issues, such as violence against women, refugees, and human rights, while sourcing speakers that have genuinely interested young professionals. While people may attend to show their support or interest in a cause, a major motivator to attend is the opportunity to meet like-minded people. A poor choice of  venue or (lack of) alcohol can prove to be a deal-breaker with young professionals. A great value-add to YP events has been inspiring speakers’ willingness to stay late into the evening talking with guests. It’s been the YP Leadership Team’s smart event planning that has achieved the right balance and seen every UNAA YP event sell out.

Another tool the Leadership Team understands well is social media. Facebook has proven to be invaluable, not only for event information, but for the ability to allow guests to see photos soon after the event, which they share – therefore spreading the UNAA YP brand and messages even further. As a result of rolling out a more strategic social media approach, the number of UNAA YP Facebook followers has quadrupled in the last six months alone.

2013 has seen the Leadership Team build on the UNAA YP’s work of 2012, with more events undertaken and planned. The UNAA YP provide people the opportunity to attend formal events, informal monthly drinks with the Leadership Team, fun and unusual bespoke events, and partnered events. The Leadership Team is continuously refining this formula to make the UN more interesting and appealing to a wider audience.

We’ve already undertaken our planning day for 2014, and it’s going to be a big year. A bigger team. More members. Extra events…  All to achieve our ultimate, idealistic Gen Y vision: Every young professional in Australia understands the role the UN plays in our worldwide community