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Keeping Your Chapters Aligned

aligning chapters

Are your chapters aligned?

Associations with chapters rely heavily on those chapters to drive their mission, through their local and regional presence and support and their on-the-ground member and community engagement.

When there is a strong connection between a parent association and its chapters, and the chapters have what they need to operate effectively and deliver the association’s message appropriately, driving the mission goes smoothly. Difficulties arise, however, when direction and the ownership for responsibilities are unclear.

When this happens, you may find chapters using language, web pages and logos that don’t meet your requirements and muddy your message. As a result, you may not see the successes you expect in outcomes and engagement, in areas like membership and advocacy.

Here are a few ways to keep your stars, i.e. your chapters, aligned with your organization and make their connection to you as solid as possible.

Give your chapters the tools to meet your expectations. This includes clarifying roles, responsibilities, and expectations, as well as messaging and branding. Providing this information as well as how to deliver it will allow them to meet member expectations and yours, regardless of location.

Don’t assume that once you provide this information all will proceed as you expect. It’s important to have a plan to address issues and questions to ensure continued clarity and consistency in delivery. Consider holding regular calls with chapter leaders, to share best practices and discuss concerns before they become bigger issues.

Maintain a strong, open relationship with your chapters. By staying involved with your chapters and keeping an open dialogue with chapter leadership, they’ll get the support they need to deliver your services, and you’ll be able to keep a closer eye on their activities.  Recognize where and when they need help and offer your assistance when relevant.

This relationship must include a defined process for submitting and responding to questions and concerns as well as recommendations for improvement. Support them through both technology and documentation and be sure to recognize chapters and their leadership for jobs well done.

Consider standardizing your membership experience. With a single set of standards and processes, members receive consistent information and your boards get consistent direction, regardless of their location. This concept of “nationalizing” some chapter functions also helps ensure your chapters deliver the messaging and branding you expect.

Keep an eye on your chapter activity. Use a dashboard to regularly review data and tracking chapter metrics. You’ll get stronger insight into their successes and return on investment, which will allow you to provide ideas for improvement based on fact. 

Having a strong relationship with your chapters and keeping an eye on their activity will help ensure continued alignment. It also improves their ability to deliver on the goals of your association:  meeting your mission and providing your members and your community the benefits they expect.

According to the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report by Marketing General Incorporated, 37 percent of associations believe lack of engagement with an organization keeps members from renewing. By eliminating the obvious barriers, you and your chapters can focus on getting and keeping your members for the long-term.

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