Is keeping your chapter management technology in house the right direction for your chapters?

Updated: Oct. 12, 2018  |  Categories: National Perspective  


Your members expect their experiences with your organization – at the national and chapter levels – to be convenient and beneficial. They use countless technology applications in a typical workday, and they want to use your technology seamlessly to access all your association has to offer, from joining and renewing their membership online, to registering for an event, and reading emails on their mobile devices. 

When an organization uses technology effectively, members react as expected. They attend events, but more importantly, they renew their memberships, and they often bring new members with them. But, when it doesn’t work, they become disillusioned and look elsewhere for their educational and networking needs. According to ASAE Foundation’s 2017 Technology Success and Readiness Study, an associations’ ability to meet the technology needs of its members directly correlates with association membership.

Among members highly satisfied with their association’s technology, 88 percent are highly satisfied with their membership overall. Among those who are not highly satisfied with their association’s technology, only 47 percent are highly satisfied with their membership. [And,] among members who are not highly satisfied with their association’s technology, only 78 percent indicated a high likelihood of renewal.”

Your technology must be effective, easy to use, easily accessible, and meet your members’ needs. Have you thought about how to best accomplish that?

Should your chapters be required to come to you for all their technology needs?

From a branding and information control perspective, controlling and managing all your technology in house makes sense. All requests have to come through your organization, whether related to chapter websites or email campaigns (including maintaining updated email lists for members and prospective members), or sending surveys and analyzing the results, posting to social media, and setting up events so members and guests can register online.

Smaller organizations with only a few chapters might find they can manage all the necessary activities in house. But for larger associations, there are factors that can keep this from being sustainable for the long term.

The benefits that come with keeping complete control could be overshadowed by inefficient technology and bottlenecks. Those bottlenecks could include like emails not going out in time for events, missed communications, and web pages not updated as needed.

Controlling all of your chapters’ technology requests could also lead to: 

  1. Cost increases and budget overruns. As you bring on help to handle the volume of requests, can your budget support the additional employees?
  2. Staff burnout. If you don’t bring on additional help, or even if you do, can your staff get it all done and on time? Something as simple as an email campaign for one chapter could become overwhelming when it must be done for 60 chapters, especially when you include the campaign management, follow up reminder emails and individual chapter email lists.
  3. A decrease in member engagement and revenues. When members don’t get what they need easily, when they need it, they get frustrated. And sometimes, that leads them to have their networking and educational needs met elsewhere, taking your revenues with them.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing decision.

You may want to maintain some level of control over the technology your chapters use and how they use it. But, do you need to be 100 percent in control? There is an opportunity cost, seen in both lost time and money, that comes with being your chapters’ technology support.

Think about how much you could accomplish if your chapters managed some of their own technology and related decisions. You could be using that time and money to do things like lobbying for stronger initiatives and giving back through expanded professional development and charitable programs.

Today, many associations are choosing to meet their chapters halfway. They’re partnering with technology organizations and implementing platforms to control what their chapters use while also allowing them the freedom to use it to meet their specific needs. This shift allows chapters to effectively grow their attendance, membership, and revenue, with tools and services that maximize their efforts and yours.

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