2019 Chapter Benchmarking Report: Executive Summary

In the Executive Summary, we share highlights from the 2019 Chapter Benchmarking Report. The report was designed to gather industry data that helps associations benchmark their chapter programs against others.
2019 Benchmarking Report Mockup

2019 Chapter Benchmarking Report: Executive Summary

Chapter membership takes on significant value in an increasingly online world. Members seek face-to-face opportunities to connect, learn, volunteer, and socialize with their peers, mentors, and clients. Once upon a time, chapters were taken for granted, but many association leaders now have questions:

  1. How does our chapter program compare to those of other associations?
  2. What are the standard practices regarding chapter membership, programming, requirements, and metrics?
  3. What support and services should we be giving chapters? Are other associations making changes to chapters?
  4. How do we assess the performance and value of our chapters?
  5. Are chapters still relevant?

What Does the 2019 Data Tell Us?

By and large associations and their chapters doing the same things they did in our last report both in terms of the type of activity in which chapters engage and the type of support associations are providing to chapter. This is not to say there is no change. As you read about what chapters are offering, we see slight variations and associations are harnessing more technology in training leaders.

The fundamental shifts have occurred in two other realms. The first is that associations are beginning to view chapters as a critical component of their membership engagement strategy. The second is that they are starting to look at more rigorous assessment of the ROI chapters role in that effort.

Everyone listed Member Engagement as important — 64% said it’s “absolutely essential” and 25% said it’s “very important.” No one described it as less than “important.” The other strategic roles topping the list were Leadership Development and Member Recruitment.

One other element remained the same: there is still the general lack of or unevenness of data on which to base any decision about any of these chapter-related questions.

Only 4% use some type of method to calculate chapter return on investment (ROI).

Only 18% recognize the financial contribution of chapters in their annual budgets.

Chapter Benchmarking Report: What the Data, Success Stories & Opinions Tell Us

Quick Snapshot 2019 Chapter Benchmarking Report


Chapter/HQ relationship

49% of our survey respondents said their chapters are separately incorporated and chartered by HQ. 23% have an independent affiliate structure and 19% have wholly owned subsidiary chapters.

Chapter membership and dues

52% require members to join HQ if they wish to become a chapter member. 42% of associations charge members separately for chapter and HQ dues while 40% include chapter dues in HQ membership dues. 56% said HQ and chapter dues are collected by HQ.

Chapter incorporation and taxes

69% of respondents said their chapters are separately incorporated—this mirrors the chapter/HQ relationship data.

Chapter programs and services

Networking and education top the list of chapter programs and services.

HQ support for chapters

The four most common services provided by HQ to chapters are chapter event promotion, database management, chapter start-up kit, and dues invoicing and collection.

Chapter affiliation requirements and performance metrics

89% require either an affiliation agreement or charter. Member retention, recruitment, and engagement/participation are the most commonly used metrics to assess chapter performance. 29% of associations have a formal assessment tool to track chapter performance.

About the 2019 Chapter Benchmarking Report

Between December 2018 and January 2019, we used a variety of channels, including ASAE’s Collaborate, to invite associations to participate in the chapter benchmarking survey. This report summarizes the data from the 177 associations who responded. The survey was designed and conducted by Whorton Marketing & Research.

The survey data along with our own research since the 2016 report led us to associations who are making strides in their relationship with chapters and the effectiveness of their chapter programs. We’ve included their stories throughout the report along with suggestions for additional reading.

A few notes on the language we use in this report:

  • “HQ” is used to describe a central organization, national association, global headquarters, mothership, etc.
  • “Chapter” is used to describe a component, section, local or state affiliate, etc.
Chapter Benchmarking Report: What the Data, Success Stories & Opinions Tell Us

Download The Report

Mariner Management, in collaboration with Billhighway, launched this second edition of the Chapter Benchmarking Report. The report was designed to gather industry data that helps associations benchmark their chapter programs against others. We also wanted to fuel the dialogue on what makes an effective chapter—and an effective chapter/association relationship.

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