Volunteer chapter leaders are not association management experts. They’re not financial whizzes, compliance professionals, database managers, technologists, or website administrators. Yet, once they get to the top of the leadership ladder, they’re expected to act like an entire association C-suite and figure all this stuff out.
Chapter members take on leadership roles because they want to help deliver membership value to their professional community. However, chapter management tasks distract them from that primary focus. The good news is chapter leaders and component relations professionals (CRPs) don’t have to put up with this frustrating situation. The solution is out there, but you might not know about it yet.
A solution to chapter event and website management challenges
Everyone’s familiar with association management systems (AMS), financial management systems (FMS), event registration platforms, and other tools used for chapter management. But do you know about our chapter performance tool that unifies all that functionality? Our Billhighway software can dramatically lessen the time that you and your volunteer leaders spend on chapter management.
Challenges of chapter event management
AMS solutions are focused on the HQ, not on chapters. An AMS doesn’t provide any visibility into member engagement at the chapter level. The member community is built and strengthened at chapter events. It’s where members hear news about comings and goings, discuss hot topics, provide advice, nurture business leads, and pursue learning. You have members who aren’t that engaged with HQ, but are strongly connected with their chapter. Where is that engagement data captured?
The shortcomings of popular event registration platforms
Unfortunately, with event registration, chapters tend to go their own way, relying on free or inexpensive tools, like Eventbrite. But these event registration platforms have a major shortcoming for chapters and HQ—they’re siloed. You and your chapters can’t collect and analyze attendee and event data in your database or AMS. You can’t track a person’s attendance over the past year or nurture non-member leads.
Administration issues arise too. Chapters must keep track of login credentials for multiple platforms. Cybersecurity risk rises as passwords are passed around or stored insecurely. When leadership changes over, volunteers get locked out, have to create new accounts, and lose data and templates.
HQ must rely on chapter reports to know what’s going on, and by the time you receive those reports, it might be too late. During the pandemic, there was no easy way to tell which chapters were hosting virtual education and meetups, and which went dark. During ‘normal’ times, you can’t see what percentage of members attended events or which non-members attended. You can’t easily compare chapter performance, or identify high performers (bright spot chapters) who get participation from all segments of their membership and market and under-performers (at-risk chapters) who end up with empty tables.
An event registration and data solution for chapters and HQ
Chapter volunteer leaders aren’t technology experts, yet they’re expected to pick event registration platforms and set up PayPal accounts. With the Billhighway suite of event management tools, every step of the event process is simplified for them: planning, registration, promotion, execution, and evaluation. Instead of being siloed to another platform, event data is part of your association’s and chapters’ technology ecosystem.
Event revenue and chapter financials are all in one place. Our software automatically transfers revenue to the chapter’s Billhighway account and reconciles all the charges. The mobile app and card reader allow chapters to accept in-person registration fees, sell raffle tickets, collect donations, and securely transfer funds to their Billhighway account.
With Billhighway, your chapters have a secure method of tracking payments and collecting funds while minimizing the risk of financial mismanagement. HQ doesn’t have to ask busy chapter leaders to submit a report summarizing event attendance and revenue—you can automatically access this information. Billhighway provides registration, attendance, and financial data that helps you and your chapters understand their performance and member engagement. CRPs can spend their time providing consultation to chapters, not nagging them for reports. With Billhighway data, you can help chapters see the story in their data and understand where opportunities exist and where problems are surfacing.
Challenges of chapter website management
Websites are another troublesome area for chapters. Chapter volunteers must find someone to design, develop, and maintain their website. They either outsource this work, despite not having the expertise to select the best vendors, or they do it themselves. DIY efforts might start off strong, but soon the site languishes and presents a poor public image.
A website solution for chapters
With Billhighway, you can give all your chapters a microsite. The plug-and-play templates make these sites a breeze for chapter leaders to update and maintain. They’re relieved of the responsibility for finding a website designer, developer, and host. Website maintenance is no longer a stressor or embarrassment, plus you can count on standard and consistent branding across your chapter network.
Given their limited knowledge and time, chapter leaders and volunteers aren’t capable of wearing every association management hat. A chapter performance tool like Billhighway takes care of event, website, data, and financial management (the topic of our next post)—everything chapter leaders need. When every chapter uses Billhighway, chapter leaders become one big user group. At leadership conferences, online meetups, and in your chapter leader community or Slack channel, volunteer leaders can discuss how they’re taking advantage of these technical resources and share best practices.
Volunteer leadership becomes a lot more enticing when, instead of managing technical tasks beyond their ‘paygrade,’ chapter leaders can focus on what they’re passionate about—their mission and members—not managing a non-profit organization.
If you’re ready to make a business case for more HQ attention and investment in your chapters, our ebook explains how chapter member engagement data can help. If you’ve already made your case, we’d love to show you how our chapter performance solution works and how it can help you increase the chapter ROI for your association.