Managing chapter leadership duties is tough enough in the best of times, but during the pandemic, volunteer chapter leaders are really struggling. They’re working long hours, concerned about job security, worried about their business, dealing with school-age children at home, or wrestling with COVID anxiety like the rest of us.
Most chapter leaders are volunteers, not association management experts. Even fewer are financial wizzes. They might not even be in charge of a budget at their day job. But in the midst of all this uncertainty, they’re trying to keep their chapter on solid financial ground. How well are they doing? Do you even know?
If only you could alleviate some of the financial burden and administrative stress so chapter leaders can focus on delivering value to members, not balancing spreadsheets. Spoiler: you can.
Challenge: understanding a chapter’s financial situation
Many associations don’t have the full picture of what’s going on with chapter finances. You might not have a process or system in place that shows you how financially secure a chapter is in real time.
Is a chapter’s budget allocated in the right way? Where is the chapter overspending or underinvesting? It’s hard to tell if a chapter is even using sound financial processes and practices.
Your association can’t be the last to know if a chapter is going downhill. By the time you learn a chapter is making bad financial decisions, having financial difficulties, or worse, becoming insolvent, it may be too late to turn them around. If a chapter goes under, members are the ones who suffer most as they watch their local professional community fade away.
How chapter financial data helps you support chapter leaders
Imagine you could access a chapter’s financial data in real time…what could you do with this intel?
You could identify areas where a chapter is spending too much. For example, you might see a recurring charge for expensive chapter website maintenance. With this data in hand, you have the opportunity to intercede, provide guidance, and suggest cheaper alternatives, perhaps a website template hosted and maintained by HQ or a more suitable technology partner.
With access to financial data, you learn about chapter activities by seeing where they spend money. For example, you might discover chapters with:
- PR campaigns supporting HQ goals
- Outreach programs for college students or young professionals
- Innovative virtual education
Now that you can see what chapters are doing, you can share chapter bright spots—exceptional chapter practices—with other volunteer leaders.
Chapter financial data helps you identify under-performing areas of a chapter’s budget. It gives you an excuse to dig deeper and provide advice. You can see which chapters are at risk and know where you need to spend more time coaching volunteer leaders (or staff) on financial management practices. This intel helps you prioritize the type of financial training and resources you provide to chapters.
Alleviate the volunteer leadership burden—and financial risk
Financial and administrative responsibilities require a great deal of a volunteer leader’s time and energy. If you can find a sustainable way to reduce this burden, chapter leaders would have more time to focus on member engagement. You don’t want these laborious tasks to dissuade qualified members from leadership service.
Software like Billhighway gives chapter leaders the tools they need to automate and simplify routine administrative tasks, such as banking, finance, accounting, invoicing, and 990s. Best of all, Billhighway provides a healthy balance of visibility for HQ and autonomy for chapters.
Billhighway reduces the risk of financial mismanagement by volunteers. Your association can see what’s going on and pull the financial reports you need without having to nag chapter leaders for them. Alleviate the administrative burden of chapter leaders and you’ll see more qualified members willing to serve as volunteer leaders, which helps to fill HQ’s leadership pipeline too.
Chapters on solid financial footing can afford to invest in the technology and programs that deliver value to members. As a result, member recruitment and retention improves, and everyone’s revenue increases.
During our webinar, “Chapter Performance Reimagined: Taking Your Association’s Growth to the Next Level,” attendees learned how their association can mobilize chapters to better serve members, and increase recruitment, retention and revenue. If you were unable to join us for the webinar, here’s a link to the session recording and the slide deck.