How 3 Associations Made the Move to New Chapter Models

Implementing a new chapter model is possible! We share how three associations decided to restructure and move to a new chapter model.
How 3 Associations Made the Move to New Chapter Models

Overall Trends & Highlights

  1. Historically, national does their own thing, and chapters do their own thing when it comes to engagement – it’s been a divide and conquer.
  2. The future is trending towards viewing chapters as collaborative partners by providing a foundation for success.
  3. Virtual chapters or online communities are changing the way chapters, members and associations communicate. This is becoming more critical as demographics change.
  4. Chapter task forces or advisory groups are a must before undertaking new chapter engagement models.

American Association of Diabetes Educators

Implementing a new chapter model is possible! Walk through what characteristics and traits to keep in mind when considering implementing a new chapter model.


  1. Selling has to be part of your training and coaching.
  2. Allow for compromise. We learned the importance of building into the process the expectation of compromise.
  3. Start your member communication early in the process – you do not need to wait until the ink is dry and all the T’s are crossed before you let your members know that you are in the process of changing the current model. Because even if you don’t, someone will.
  4. Select an external project manager rather than having a staff member manage the association wide initiative.
  5. Keep in mind how different new members are from aging members, how they will want to interact with you and others, the type of flexibility they will want.

Ask Yourself

  • What characteristics define your current chapter model?
  • What characteristics are most important for the future of your association?

Alzheimer’s Association & ACCA

Both organizations restructured to put chapters in a position to focus on their primary engagement responsibilities (local fundraising and programs), national took on fiduciary responsibilities.

“We’re loyal to causes and people. And that’s not how chapters are built. So we have to rebuild them for the knowledge age.”


  1. Two different approaches, but national boards ultimately made the decision to restructure and make change.
  2. Understanding where strengths are – know what locals are best positioned to accomplish what national can’t, and vice versa. National has the resources to build a strong foundation and provide the tools chapters and their leaders need to be successful.
  3. For any changes that impact chapters or stakeholders, get them involved. Get the root of their challenges and identify how you can solve the biggest pains.
  4. Task forces, advisory groups, surveys and face-to-face conversations are all key communication channels to gather input from stakeholders.
  5. Be thorough in the discovery phase, not doing due diligence could backlash in a big way.

Ask Yourself

  • When having conversations regarding engagement & chapter models, who at the chapter level should be included?
  • What facts and metrics do you have to support the need for a change in your chapter engagement model?

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