Association chapters and components are fertile ground for member engagement, but they can often prove to be a thorny management challenge. As associations examine the value of their component networks, they’re finding that skillful investment in supporting the success of chapters will drive bigger and better returns.
We’ll take a look at some key strategies and steps to tip the chapter ROI balance with smarter investments at the central-organization level and better returns at the chapter level—and some ideas on how to measure it all, too.
You’ll hear from the following experts:
- Dresden Farrand, MPA, MPP, CAE, Senior Director of Membership and Chapters at CoSN
- Charles W.L. Deale, FASAE, CAE, Former Vice President, Membership and Chapter Relations, at Financial Executives International (FEI)
- Brent Bassett, Solution Architect, at Billhighway
- Kyle Bazzy, Former Director of Growth, at Billhighway
The ROI of Relationships
If there’s one potential pitfall in striving to maximize the return on investment of an association’s chapter system, it’s in viewing components as merely a tool to be leveraged. They are groups of people, after all. Their value to the forward progress of the association, more than anything else, lies in the strength of relationships. Bazzy says the surest way to earn chapter leaders’ loyalty is to put them in the best position possible to serve members well.
“Start by solving real problems for your chapter leaders. If you want to get adoption, you’ve got to start by solving problems for them, not you. A give-first mentality is super important.”
Deale, meanwhile, says CFA Institute’s relationship with its components was revived when it learned to view them as equal partners with the central organization—and that’s when ROI began to grow.
“Over time, what happened was more and more people at the global organization, including the global leadership, realized that if the organization was going to be successful globally it could not do it alone. It could not operate in a vacuum. It really had to work collaboratively and in partnership with the societies, particularly as it started penetrating into markets outside North America, where we had previously not had a presence,” Deale says. “And as that evolution occurred, that’s when more and more resources were dedicated to societies.”
Dresden Farrand, MPA, MPP, CAE, Senior Director of Membership and Chapters, at Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) in Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Since 2013, 12+ state chapters launched, membership up 38 percent and retention increased 24 percent. In 2016, Dresden was presented with the 40 under 40 award.
Charles W.L. Deale, FASAE, CAE, Former Vice President, Membership and Chapter Relations, at Financial Executives International (FEI) in Morristown, New Jersey.
Highlights: 86 percent of members cite networking via chapters as their primary reason for joining; chapters average between 85 and 95 percent enrollment of FEI members in their geographic areas.
Apply these next steps to help solve problems and serve your chapter leaders:
- Adopt a give-first mentality
- View chapters as equal partners
- Work collaboratively with chapters
- Dedicate more resources to chapters
Show Them the Way
Associations conduct a variety of training programs for their chapter leaders; both in-person conferences and workshops and online webinars and discussion forums are common. Most often, organizations host three or four trainings per year, but that volume varies widely.
Who Handles the Money?
In 2016, both Mariner Management & Marketing and Marketing General Incorporated found in their benchmarking research that two-thirds of associations with chapters process all dues collection through the central headquarters.
In addition to removing administrative work from chapters, Mariner’s study notes “collecting the dues gives the central organization access to a critical data set, essential to comprehensively assessing recruitment and retention percentages.”
Download This Whitepaper
In this Billhighway whitepaper, we’ll take a look at some key strategies and steps to tip the chapter ROI balance with smarter investments at the central-organization level and better returns at the chapter level—and some ideas on how to measure it all, too.