How to Overcome Possible Resistance to Chapter Banking

Anticipate that some chapters may object to a Chapter Banking solution. We’ll share strategies for how to overcome resistance from your chapters.
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This virtual solution is sometimes called “consolidated banking” because the sub-accounts of every chapter are consolidated under one larger bank account. Consolidated banking is also called:

  • Chapter banking
  • Component banking
  • Concentrated banking

We call it “chapter banking” throughout this paper as a generic term because this banking solution was developed specifically for organizations with chapter, affiliate, or component networks — and it’s unique to the Billhighway platform.

Despite the obvious benefits of this new approach to banking for chapters, let’s face it, chapter leaders don’t always react positively to all of your great ideas. There’s something about the National/chapter relationship that makes some chapters act occasionally like rebellious teenagers.

Anticipate their objections — we’ll share a few common ones below — and acknowledge their concerns. Let them know you take them seriously, but be ready to show them a different perspective.

Understand Their “Control” Issue

Many National/chapter relationships are strained because of institutional ego. A chapter’s sense of control is threatened by requests or demands from National. When the institutional ego feels threatened, the fences start going up. If the relationship was already leaning toward adversarial, chapters are even less likely to cede any additional transparency to National. “It’s the chapter’s territorial imperative,” said Peter.


“The minute a chapter opens up a bank account, they become possessive. They draw a line around it.”


And now, your association comes along and wants them to change how they run their finances. You want them to do business your way — and to let you be in on it. Logically, it all makes sense. But since when does logic rule decisions? Researchers tell us that emotions play a huge role in decision-making. You need to stroke that institutional ego and appeal to both the emotions and the logic of chapter decision-makers.

  • Learn about their real fears and concerns.
  • Ask questions that demonstrate your empathy.
  • Alleviate their worries.
  • Treat them as equals.

For example, make sure the boundaries are clearly defined and communicated as to what your association can and can’t do without a chapter’s consent. Don’t discount the control issue. All it takes is one chapter board member to raise it and the rest of the board may close ranks around their colleague.

Anticipate & Overcome Resistance to Change

Chapter banking introduces a change for the chapter as an organization and a change for the individuals involved — that’s a lot of change.

Peter said, “The reality is, in our experience, when it comes to this kind of organizational change, there are 20 percent who are all in, 60 percent who couldn’t give a hoot, and 20 percent who don’t like anything and will fight you tooth and nail.”

People Don’t Like Change

Anytime you introduce a new process or technology, you have to think about change management from the very start. People don’t like change because the transition is uncomfortable. All of a sudden the status quo they used to complain about doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Change Is Personal

Change is personal — and with staff and leaders, it’s real personal because lots of member eyes are watching. When new banking processes and tools are introduced, chapter leaders have to learn something new. They were good at the old thing, what if they’re not good at this new thing?


Frame discussions by acknowledging mutual goals, for example:

  1. Lessening the administrative burden placed on chapter volunteers and staff, and therefore, saving them lots of time.
  2. Giving chapters more opportunities to focus on the strengths they bring to your partnership, for example, the chapter member experience and engagement.
  3. Acknowledge the value and importance of these contributions.
  4. Taking advantage of National’s resources and economies of scale — and, consequently, boosting the chapter’s bottom line.
Anticipate & Overcome Resistance to Change

Entering The Unknown

They had a sense of control over what they were doing before. Now, even though you’ve painted a positive picture of life with the new system, they’re entering the unknown.

  • Will they like it?
  • Will others blame them if it doesn’t meet expectations?
  • Is this the legacy they want to leave behind?

The unknown makes people uneasy, even if the positives outweigh the negatives.

Address The Real Issue: Trust

The root cause of most National/chapter disagreement (and dysfunction) is a lack of trust. If one of your chapters sees National as a nag or bully, or if they feel they’re in an unequal “parent/child” relationship, then you’re not going to get far with any proposal for change.

“First of all, you always have some trust within your chapter network,” said Peter. “The key is finding out where you have that trust and go play with the people who want to play with you.”

“Let chapters who want to play nice demonstrate to other chapters that this new banking solution actually works and let those people sell the idea to the 30 percent of chapters who think you’re dingbats.”

Facilitate the Disruption Conversation

Acknowledge the fact that change is uncomfortable, but is a necessary part of the association’s and chapters’ evolution.

A conversation about disruption and change is worth having whether you’re pitching a new idea or not. Chapter leaders will become more self-aware and thoughtful about their reactions to change. Facilitate a conversation about:

  • How outside changes are affecting your association and chapters.
  • How chapter leaders feel about these changes.
  • What scares them about these changes.
  • Where they see opportunities if they adapt to these changes.
  • What could happen if they don’t adapt.


These are possible strategies for introducing change to chapters:

  1. Invite chapter leaders to be a part of the solution.
  2. Discuss problems with the status quo and the impact of those problems on members and volunteer leaders.
  3. Talk about the obstacles standing in the way of chapters achieving their goals and delivering value to members.
  4. Encourage them to propose solutions and, during that discussion, bring up your idea for a solution.
  5. Prepare your chapter leaders for change by making it a topic of discussion during a chapter leadership meeting.

Build Momentum For Chapter Banking With an Early Adopter Group

Introduce chapter banking first to a group of chapters who would welcome a new way of doing business. Peter said, “Leverage the people who are willing to look at change as a positive thing and who view you as a sincere partner in the effort.”

Early Adopter Groups

A chapter leader peer has more persuasion power than anyone at National. These first chapters become the champions who help you sell chapter banking to the others. Make sure the composition of the early adopter group reflects the diversity of your chapter network, so every chapter sees the success of “someone” like them, for example, big/small, urban/rural, and staff-/volunteer-managed chapters.

5 Key Benefits of Chapter Banking For National Associations
Value first chapter philosophy

Be Proactive & Prepared

News will spread quickly throughout the network as your project proceeds. Proactively provide information about chapter banking so you can address concerns, answer questions, and head off any misinformation and rumors.

Develop Training & Support

Describe the training and support you’ll provide. Be aware that some chapters may require individual coaching and hand-holding. Show chapters a preview of their new reports. Most importantly, gather success stories from the early participants about the positive impact of chapter banking on their chapter and members, and on them personally.

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Chapter Banking Whitepaper Cover

Download Our Guide

In the Chapter Banking Guide, we share the basics of chapter banking, how your association and chapters could benefit from the solution, ways to overcome possible resistance, and how your national-chapter relationship can change positively with the solution.

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