How Headquarters Supports It’s Chapters: Staffing & Services
Let’s look at how HQ supports its chapters and chapter leaders. How can you uncover an association’s strategic intent for its chapters? See which department is in charge of chapter support.
Role for Chapters
The role for supporting chapters largely falls under the Membership (54%) or Chapter Relations (28%) department. Other departments that support chapters are Education, Policy & Advocacy, Sales, and Volunteer Leadership.
An average of 3.5 full-time employees focus on components or chapters at HQ organizations.
Average FTE Focused on Components at HQ
- Separately Incorporated Chartered
- Wholly-Owned Subsidiaries
- Separately Incorporated Affiliates
Chapter Services Provided by HQ
The four most common services provided to chapters are:
- Chapter event promotion
- Database management
- Chapter start-up kit
- Dues invoicing and collection
Some associations provide group discounts or special pricing for chapters on key services, such as database management, website hosting, communications and marketing, and insurance.
Relatively few associations provide logistical support for events, such as registration and planning, or financial/tax services—despite the challenges these routine responsibilities present to volunteer-led chapters. Even fewer offer full-service management.
We drilled down into four chapter support areas.
Nearly 2/3rds of the survey participants handle data management for their chapters. Of these, 81% include chapter member/prospect data. A few, 2%, provide special pricing. The remaining offer variations on database support.
In our interviews, staff pointed to several advantages of managing data for chapters include:
- Chapter leaders can focus more on strategic concerns, such as programming and member service, and less on administrative tasks.
- Chapter data is kept up-todate, accurate, and complete.
- HQ can identify chapter weaknesses, for example, low retention of first-year members.
- HQ can use data to benchmark chapter performance.
Of the associations who provide event registration support, 79% give chapters the ability to use HQ’s event registration system. 58% collect event registration data and payments for their chapters.
Marketing & Communications
75% of the associations providing marketing and communications support give their chapters access to an email delivery platform. 46% of them handle email communications and marketing for their chapters.
90% of the associations offering website support provide chapter microsites or host a dedicated page/community on the HQ website.
6% of associations offer special pricing with a separate provider. And 11% of associations offer other website hosting services.
Examples of Website Support
- Offering standalone websites at no cost to chapters.
- Arranging for complimentary website hosting through HQ’s vendor.
- Purchasing website domains that affiliated charters can use at no cost.
- Providing an AMS-connected website platform with three to five possible templates for chapters to use.
- Of the associations providing insurance support to chapters, two-thirds (67%) do so through HQ’s insurance policy.
- 24% offer a discounted insurance policy for Directors & Officers.
- 22% offer a discounted insurance policy for General Liability.
- 14% offer referrals for insurance products.
- 8% offer other insurance options.
Other Chapter Services
35% of our survey respondents selected “Other” in the Chapter Support category. Here are some of the frequently mentioned services that caught our eye:
- Consulting services, including legal services, strategic planning, and board development
- Logo and marketing collateral design services
- Online conferencing technology
An idea for funding chapter services
You might be thinking…these are fantastic ideas for additional chapter services but how do we pay for them? Glad you asked. One association we know funds its portfolio of chapter services by charging a yearly Chapter Services Fee based on the number of members in each chapter.
This fee also takes into account the average income for members in less developed countries. Fee revenue doesn’t cover the costs of supporting chapters but it does help to offset them.
Thanks to this services fee, the association can provide supplemental services and technology, such as a chapter management platform, website platform with volunteer portal, online community for chapter leaders, membership renewal processing, and weekly chapter training sessions. In its chapter communications, HQ highlights the chapter and member benefits made possible by the fee.
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.