Chapter Tech Tools for Data, Chapter Leaders & Visual Content

Usually, the best moments at a conference are the conversations outside the meeting room when you get to share ideas with other attendees. We decided to bring those conversations to center stage at this year’s Association Component Exchange (CEX) hosted by Mariner Management & Marketing and Billhighway. We invited 16 component relations professionals (CRPs) to tell us about their favorite chapter tech tools.


Chapter Tech Tools for Collecting Chapter Data



Cindy Anderton, director of affiliates at the Association for Vascular Access (AVA), recommends using JotForm to create custom online forms. She uses for:

  • Chapter annual reports and tax reports (990N)
  • Chapter membership applications and volunteer applications
  • Event registrations, poster submission forms, and certificates of attendance
  • Product order forms
  • Board meeting RSVPs
  • Expense reimbursement and time off request forms

Cindy sends her chapters a link to the annual report form and they submit everything electronically, including any document uploads that AVA requires. Her annual report form asks for information such as:

  • Leadership contact information
  • Social media account links
  • Current dues structure and how the chapter collects dues so she knows what kind of resources they need
  • Membership statistics including the number of chapter members, National members, and members with certification
  • Meeting/event details such as number of meetings held in 2018, details of the chapter’s 2018 meetings (presentation titles, dates, speakers, etc.), and number of meetings proposed for 2019
  • Names of members willing to help at AVA’s National conference
  • Open space for additional comments, concerns, or questions

You could also use JotForm for calls for nominations, award applications, certification applications, and speaker presentation submissions.


The JotForm library includes 10,000 form templates you can use to create your form. If you like another association’s form, you can copy an existing form from any JotForm user’s web page. Or, you can copy an existing form from your own library. Form layouts include one form on one page (classic) or one question per page (card).

It’s easy to edit a form. You can customize the form to your chapter needs by switching out colors and logo.

You can use IF/THEN conditional settings on your form. For example:

  • IF Active Member, THEN Reduce rate to $75
  • IF Pay by Credit Card marked, THEN Hide payment address field
  • IF XX Option is chosen, THEN Send XX Auto Responder


You can customize auto responders (email notifications). For example, after an AVA chapter member attends an educational program, they submit a form for CE credits. AVA is notified by email and a certificate of attendance is automatically sent. On ASAE Collaborate, someone said, “You can set up email alerts so the person submitting [the form] maintains a copy and the person receiving receives a copy.”

You can export form data into Excel, your AMS or other systems. Think about the possibilities: you could upload form data to an AMS analytics module, Tableau, or another BI/analytics tool. JotForm also integrates with many third-party services like PayPalDropboxMailChimp, and Salesforce.

JotForm has a freemium option as well as plans that go up to $99 per month depending on the number of submissions you have per month. A Collaborate user said, “JotForm seems to always be on the cutting edge for their field—and they offer good support.”



Wufoo (a SurveyMonkey product) is a popular choice for CRPs. Both Tanya M. Coogan, director of membership and chapter relations at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and Christine Tipton, CAE, director of division services at the American Psychological Association(APA), spoke at CEX about Wufoo.

Wufoo is another online form builder you can embed in your website. Tanya and Christine use it as an alternative for (the dreaded) fillable PDFs. Instead of having to go back and forth with emails to chapters, you can get everything you need to know by using a Wufoo form.

Here are some additional ways to use an online form builder:

  • Leadership contact forms and roster updates
  • Online surveys, including chapter leader pulse surveys
  • Chapter event support/promotion requests
  • Speaker requests
  • Award submissions
  • Grant submissions
  • Internal tracking functions

Like JotForm, Wufoo forms can be customized. For example, you can create a theme for each chapter. Someone on ASAE Collaborate said about Wufoo, “We can embed forms in web pages, take attachments, and link to secure payment.”

Wufoo is so intuitive that any National or chapter team member can easily use it. It saves time because you don’t need to get IT involved. Since it’s web-based, it’s available anywhere.

Wufoo offers multiple price plans from $19/month. Tanya and Christine agree that it’s a good bang for your buck. They’re coming up with new ways to use it every day, and other departments want to use it now too.



Louise Burnette, MPA, chapter services manager at the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), told CEX attendees about a tool the AGA IT department developed for her team. For AGA’s quarterly chapter recognition program, their chapters voluntarily report what they’re doing and get credits (points) for activities and compliance requirements. Chapters used to submit this information via spreadsheets, but Louise’s favorite IT guy flowcharted the cumbersome process and wrote code for a new online form app.

The chapters go to the website landing page for the program and enter their data into the form. Their answers go into a database from which AGA generates reports showing the breakdown of credits by chapter. Louise said this program makes it possible to have better conversations with chapters. “We see their activities and know whom to ask about next practices. It’s also a way to identify who isn’t reporting.”

Granted, a project like this may be out of reach for associations without this type of in-house IT talent, but the concept is worth considering. Perhaps you can use your database’s form application or an online form builder like JotForm or Wufoo to collect data and export it to another tool where you can manipulate the data. Sit down with your IT team to see what’s possible with your existing technology.



Wesley Carr, senior program manager of chapter and volunteer relations at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), proved that low-tech tools still have their place. He uses a spreadsheet for his chapter engagement matrix.

This spreadsheet or matrix tracks each chapter’s activities at three levels of metrics that were agreed upon by chapter leaders:

  • Minimum requirements (or “low lifts”) include the number of chapter activities, the chapter’s participation in global (RAPS) planning, and the makeup of the volunteer leadership team.
  • Member engagement metrics track how well members are engaging with the chapter virtually and face-to-face. These metrics include the number of chapter activity participants, percentage of committee members who participate in chapter activities, and number of online community members.
  • Aspirational goals represent metrics that are “nice-to-have” but aren’t necessarily required. They include the number of dues-paying members in the chapter community, year-over-year performance, number of unique chapter community logins, and number of people in the volunteer database.

The chapter engagement matrix and metrics were rolled out along with a training program for volunteer leaders. Sponsorships offset expenses, making this a sustainable program for RAPS and its chapters.



Zapier is the category-busting tool that makes all of your other technology work even better. Peter Houstle, co-founder and CEO of our CEX co-host, Mariner Management & Marketing LLC, is a big fan of Zapier because it automates routine tasks by tying different applications together.

Zapier makes more than a thousand integrations possible. For example, with Zapier, you can use Eventbrite ticket orders to create Zoom webinar registrants. A member registers and pays in Eventbrite and then Zapier “automagically” creates a new webinar registrant in Zoom.

Here’s another example using Wufoo form entries to create MailChimp subscribers. First, you create a list in MailChimp for those new subscribers. A member enters their email address and other contact info into a Wufoo form on your website. Zapier automagically (we like that word of Peter’s) sends the new form data directly to that MailChimp list.

Collaborate users provided even more examples of how their associations use Zapier to integrate system data:

  • PayPal with QuickBooks
  • Microsoft Dynamics with MailChimp
  • Salesforce with WordPress, Informz, and ON24 webinar platform
  • Smartsheet with Trello
  • netFORUM with Salesforce and Elevate LMS

A new tool won’t always automagically solve your chapter issues, but it certainly could help you save time by streamlining processes. It’s worth the investment of time at the front end so you can free up your schedule to work on more strategic tasks.

Chapter Tech Tools for Providing Resources to Chapter Leaders

There’s a tool out there for pretty much everything. But who has time to wade through Google search results and website sales copy to find one that works best for your purposes? Wouldn’t you rather hear about a useful chapter tech tool from a fellow component relations professional (CRP)?



Dresden Farrand, MPA, MPP, CAE, vice president of membership and chapter development at the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), found a great tool to help chapters build their prospect lists. Hunter lets you find email addresses right from its home page.

All you do is enter the company domain into the search field, click search, and all the publicly available email addresses for that domain are listed. You can then download the list to your database. Hunter also integrates with LinkedIn, Google, HubSpot, and other platforms.

You can get a free Hunter account that allows 100 free searches a month. Dresden purchases a subscription so her chapters have unlimited free use. Hunter has made a difference for them. For example, one chapter split their list of prospect companies between board members. Using Hunter, they got 220 email addresses in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Purchasing that same list would have cost $800, so they saved time and money. is chapters, make sure they understand good email marketing practices so they don’t end up spamming prospects. For example, send a welcome email letting the recipient know they can stay on the list to receive valuable information or they can easily opt out if they don’t want to receive the chapter’s emails. Most importantly, make sure your chapters have the training, processes, and tools to store data securely.



Abigail Solazzo, chapters and leadership manager at the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals (ANFP), reminded CEX attendees to not overlook “RAT” (readily available technology) like SurveyMonkey.

Here’s a case of a tech tool that helped an association solve a serious chapter challenge. ANFP staff used to visit chapters every three years to conduct a SWOT analysis and leadership training. But nothing ever came of the visits—no follow-up, no goals met or outcomes achieved, and no ROI for ANFP or their chapters.

So they overhauled the entire process to focus on chapter needs. They use a biannual chapter status report to assess chapter performance and identify at-risk chapters, for example, the ones with decreases in membership and volunteer retention. They also note which chapters have made distress calls to ANFP about issues like volunteer burnout, personality problems, or power struggles.

Before the visit, the chapter does their SWOT analysis using SurveyMonkey. The survey is a self-guided process. To help the chapter provide the most useful answers, ANFP provides tips within the survey. Answers are anonymous and, therefore, candid. ANFP is getting much better information than they did when the SWOT was conducted in person.

Chapters have a month to respond to the survey. Having the analysis ahead of time allows ANFP to customize the chapter’s on-site training. Now chapter training comes with expected outcomes attached to deadlines.



Jenny Heger, CHSE, director of chapter management and volunteer experience at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), introduced us to GroupMap, a mind-mapping tool. Say goodbye to easels and sticky notes. You can use GroupMap for online or in-person brainstorming, journey mapping, and group decision making.

At HSMAI’s chapter roadshows, they familiarize chapter leaders with GroupMap at the reception the night before the event by having them work on fun questions. The next day, members work on three questions in the morning and three questions in the afternoon. A recorder at each table uses a laptop to enter responses into the GroupMap site. Participants see the results from each table aggregated live.

GroupMap offers about 60 best practice map templates for planning, brainstorming, and developing strategy, or you can create your own. Jenny cloned a master map for each city they visited. Each map has its own link and password. You can customize map headings and add instructions to help focus thinking.

Jenny loves GroupMap because it’s easy to learn and teach others how to use. People can work on a map independently and then gather together, or they can use it in a group like they did at the roadshows.

  1. There’s no need to type up notes from sticky pads.
  2. The participants do all the work for you by entering notes right onto the website.
  3. Results can be sorted, analyzed, and exported right away.
  4. And, it’s inexpensive. You can pay just for the months you need with pricing starting at $20/month.


Corey Strausman, associate director of chapter development at the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), talked about their chapter Slack channels. Slack is a collaboration platform. Its acronym means “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge.”

AIGA started using Slack to reduce the burden of emails for AIGA staff and chapter leaders. Slack makes it easy for AIGA to communicate, connect, and engage with chapter leaders, and for chapter leaders to connect with each other. It serves as a clearinghouse for ideas. Corey promotes successful chapter programs on Slack so chapter leaders can see what their peers are doing elsewhere.

Slack has also helped Corey highlight problems with AIGA’s communications. Through Slack, he’s proven to AIGA leaders that he can think differently, communicate differently, and succeed differently. He now has support to try new programs, like three new web series for chapter leaders:

  • Community meetings: virtual conversations on topics predetermined by chapter leaders.
  • Lunch and learn with chapter leaders: pre-recorded snackable interviews discussing challenges, successes, and solutions that are being implemented at the local level.
  • Streamed content from the annual leadership retreat.


To learn more about how AIGA and their chapters are using Slack, check out our post, How to Improve Chapter Communications.



Lindsay Currie, director of stakeholder engagement at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), and Sara Sanders, regional chapter manager at PEAK Grantmaking, discussed how they use the Higher Logic online community platform for their chapter leaders.



Upon taking office, RAPS chapter leaders receive resource binders, but they still continually called HQ to ask the same questions. Lindsay’s team needed a solution to this time-consuming problem, but didn’t have a budget for new technology. When you don’t have a budget for new tools, where do you turn? That’s right, ask the IT department what options are already available in your association. It turns out another department was using (and footing the bill for) the Higher Logic platform.

The chapter leader portal is still a work in progress, but Lindsay’s team has built a library by repurposing the resources and materials they already had. They focus their resource-building efforts on the issues they most need to communicate to chapter leaders and the most critical needs of chapter leaders.

They’ve used quick tips, videos, and in-person training to encourage leaders to use the resources on the portal, along with the help of portal ambassadors. As a resource for new leaders, the portal has helped with succession planning. It’s also helping leaders build relationships with their peers. They’ve used the portal to share ideas, arrange visits with others, and plan dinners together at RAPS conferences.



PEAK Grantmaking also built an online chapter leaders community in Higher Logic as well as a community for each of their 14 chapters. Upon joining, members are added to their regional chapter community, thanks to the Higher Logic integration with their AMS.

The chapter leaders community is a one-stop shop for leadership needs, including a resource library. Sara individually asks chapter leaders to post about what they’re doing so good ideas can be replicated elsewhere.

Bigger and expensive doesn’t mean better. Other options besides Higher Logic can provide some of the functionality you need for chapter leaders, for example, Google DocsSlackDropbox, list serves, or project management tools.

Chapter Tech Tools for Creating Visual Content

Component relations professionals (CRPs) are the Leonardo da Vinci’s of the association world. As modern day Renaissance men and women, you need to help chapters with membership, volunteer management, leadership, governance, marketing, events, finance, and so much more. If only you had da Vinci’s artistic talents because you also have to produce all kinds of visual content too.

But with the help of tech tools, you can pass as an amateur artist or graphic designer. At the Association Component Exchange (CEX) hosted by Mariner Management & Marketing and Billhighway, 16 component relations professionals (CRPs) shared stories about the tech tools they use for their work with chapters.



Beth Humphrey, membership manager at the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), introduced us to PowToon, an online platform for creating animated presentations and explainer videos. She uses PowToon to create volunteer leader toolkit videos.

Even though their volunteer leader toolkit is full of resources, members were still calling the office with questions about where to find something. Using PowToon, Beth created short (less than three minutes) videos to highlight what’s available in the toolkit. She also did videos on Financials 101 and chapter bylaws since those topics generate many questions too.

Her team wrote the script for each video, chose images and animation from PowToon, and then did voiceovers. Each video took about eight hours to create.

Since the videos were created, the number of calls and questions from chapter leaders have decreased. Chapters are even using the videos for their board orientations. An ASAE Collaborate user said they used PowToon “to create [a] promotional video for an event… It’s really user-friendly and kind of works similarly to PowerPoint. Also, they offer a great discount for nonprofits.”



Tanya Russick, director of member and chapter relations and national secretary at the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), said her chapters use Periscope to share videos of live and recorded events. The only equipment you need to use Periscope is an iPhone, microphone, and stand.

Members and non-members can view live streaming of chapter events for free. After the event, she shares links to the recorded videos in emails and on the chapter’s website. Because Periscope counts live and replay views in the viewer metrics, Tanya can measure the interest in different event topics.



Samantha Herman, senior chapter relations manager at the Association for Talent Development (ATD), and Leisl Moriarty, CMP, director of affiliate relations at the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), are both fans of Canva.

Canva is a graphic design tool that’s perfect for chapters (or associations) with limited budgets. Samantha and Leisl use Canva to create event marketing materials, tools, and resources for their chapters. Their chapters use Canva for:

  • Calls for volunteers
  • Award winner announcements
  • Save the date notices
  • Product promos
  • Posters


ATD set up branding guidelines so chapter designs align with National’s. Canva offers all kinds of templates on which to base designs. You can customize photos, text, and layouts, then download, share, and/or order prints.

A Collaborate user said, “I just found a jackpot for making visuals… fun, colorful graphics. Just wanted to share this goldmine with my colleagues.” Another person said, “IT’S SHOCKINGLY EASY, FREE, AND A GREAT TOOL FOR ON-THE-FLY GRAPHIC DESIGN WORK—THINGS LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS, PRESENTATIONS, AGENDAS, ETC.”

Samantha said they’re seeing much more social media engagement since they started using Canva for images on their social posts. TechSoup can help you apply for Canva’s 501(c)3 nonprofit discount.



Charlotte Muylaert, marketing leader here at Billhighway, told the CEX crowd about Envato, an online marketplace and community for creative assets and creative people. We use three Envato products: Market (digital assets), Elements (creative assets), and Studio (hire designers and developers).

Like many associations, we only have one designer on staff (hi Paige!) who has a heavy project load. Envato helps us templatize projects for quick turnaround and quality work—and it allows Paige to focus on larger projects, like CEX.

We’ve to create templates for PowerPoint presentations, white papers, flyers, and posters. We had a WordPress website theme designed. And, we hired a freelance animator for an explainer video.



Lindsay Currie, director of stakeholder engagement at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), uses Kahoot, a game-based learning and trivia platform as an icebreaking tool. Participants go to the Kahoot website and enter the game PIN you give them. They can play individually or as a team.

Collaborate users said they use Kahoot to:

  • Give quizzes during educational sessions.
  • Get attendees focused after a break with a fun trivia game and a prize (Starbucks card).
  • Add gamification activities to a presentation, for example, a quick pre-assessment of attendee knowledge of the topic.
  • Deliver microlearning.



We can’t talk about tech tools and apps without mentioning Your Nerdy Best Friend aka Beth Ziesenis. You might have heard her speak at an ASAE, SAE, or other association event. Her website and newsletter are full of tech tool recommendations from Beth and her association audience.

Check out these posts too:



Before you get too far into the tool selection process, take some time to review these questions with your team:

  • What current pain or challenge are you trying to solve with this tool?
  • What tools are you already using to address this challenge? Are they working?
  • What existing systems must integrate/play nicely with this tool?
  • How will you evaluate potential tool vendors? Do you have a list of key questions and requirements?
  • How will you roll out this tool and encourage chapters to adopt and leverage it?
  • Who ultimately owns this project/implementation? Do you have a champion for it?
  • How will you receive member and chapter feedback?
  • Will you consider having a small diverse sampling of chapters to pilot the tool?
  • What does success with this tool look like?


Corey Strausman, associate director of chapter development at the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), kept us grounded at CEX with this advice about technology: “Any tech tool is a solution, not the solution.”

Sometimes a tool can make a huge difference as our CEX presenters demonstrated. But sometimes people expect technology to solve problems it can’t really solve. Take a look at the people, practices, and processes around a problem. Make sure you fix those too or your new tool may not bring you the results you expected.


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About the author

Mark is known for his success in helping empower non-profit organizations across the U.S. and around the world to do more, multiply their impact, and grow. He regularly walks organizations through discovery processes that uncover internal obstacles, helping them identify and implement ways to more effectively run chapter-based organizations through process improvements and the use of innovative technologies. As a sought-after industry thought leader, he often speaks at leadership conferences, and regularly hosts educational roundtables and workshops in the non-profit sector. Mark has an unrelenting passion in helping solve problems for mission-based organizations so they can better focus on their mission and expand their impact across the nation and around the world.