Hopefully everyone has had some time to settle back into their daily routine after a great ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo! (We know it can take forever to dig yourself out of those emails).
As if life wasn’t hard enough, chapters have to come in and add more complexity to everything. We know that structure, procedures and metrics for chapters can vary widely, making them hard to support and requiring more time and money. You may ask yourself, are chapters worth the effort? We think so, and so do others at ASAE…see for yourself!
Opening Session Takeaway (through our component-focused lens)
“Do the hard thing.” – Chapters aren’t easy, but due to evolving factors such as demographics, lifestyles and many others, changes need to happen. We saw many use cases at the conference and had a lot of conversations that support the need for change among associations that have chapters.
In the sessions we attended, we couldn’t help but get a sense that there is a growing focus on improving and growing chapters no matter how close the affiliation is (or isn’t) to national.
So you have chapters, the more power to you! Dresden Farrand, Director of Membership, CoSN dove into how chapters can play a significant role in recruitment, retention and engagement and boasted some awesome stats:
- Increased members by 38%
- Increased sponsorship revenue by over $300k
- Increased products & sales by over $70k
- Doubled membership in 4 states
- Increased retention by 24%
The key takeaway here is that chapters do produce ROI. Check out the presentation slides for more information.
This concept also stood out to us in the ‘Boost your Membership Renewals’ session. We walked away with a few thoughts:
- Arm components with tools to capture and leverage data so they can make smarter decisions regarding membership status and needs. Whether this is people power, technology or something else, data needs to be easily accessible and digestible for it to be useful.
- Local = Connection – Components can be a huge driver for member value which in turn drives renewals. Ensuring that chapters have the resources and tools to facilitate local value is key.
- Curious about how they did it? View the presentation slides here
Governance Is a Journey, but it’s Possible
There’s recently been a lot of conversation about governance changes and how to go about it when an association has a complex chapter structure. The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) decided to take on the process of governance change when they ran into the following challenges:
- A rapidly growing membership that demanded more from Global
- Board was operational vs. strategic
- Global vs. chapters = a ‘civil war’ situation
What led to success? Two items stood out to us!
- “Sincerely embrace a ‘chapter-first’ mindset” – Chapters are the closest to members and their success equals success for the entire organization. Get them focusing on the strategic objectives, support them where they need it and nurture the relationship.
- “Continuous focus on strategy vs. operations at the board level” – The association world is changing fast. Your board needs to focus on the big picture and direction, while staff handles the execution. This focus should encompass chapters…’how can we help our chapters align with our overall strategy?’, ‘where does global (national) come into play?’
If any of this sounds familiar – check out the presentation slides. ACG CEO, Gary LaBranche, covers their governance change process starting on slide 14.
There may be a lot more than what meets the eye. In the ‘Motivating Rogue Chapters Toward Dissolution’ session, we saw four case studies of struggling chapters. We were able to derive the following:
- Sometimes chapters just need a little more support from the parent organization.
- We ask: How can that support be proactive rather than reactive?
- Chapters aren’t always aligned with the overall strategic objectives of the organization.
- We ask: Is this a communication challenge or a governance challenge?
- Decisions driven by data are important at ALL levels of the organization, not just the parent, and that data can’t be siloed.
- We ask: Can chapter dashboards help drive data awareness?
- See the presentation and how they did it here