Onboarding New Chapter Members: A How To Guide

Whether you’re starting a new chapter, or you’ve been a chapter leader for decades, you’ve got to make a success of onboarding new members. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that membership acquisition and retention is critical.

Here are a few things you might want to think about when it comes to onboarding new members for your chapter:

  • Are there specific onboarding tactics that other chapters or national have found to be successful?
  • Is there an onboarding email template(s) that you should be aware of, or have access to?
  • Is it clearly stated what type of experience your chapter should strive to provide a new member?
  • Is there a clear expectation of how soon a new member should hear from their chapter after they sign up? And what that message should be?



Tim Ebner, Senior Editor for Associations Now, lays out three examples of how your chapter can onboard new members face-to-face:



Build an experience by creating a “micro-involvement” event for members. Provide opportunities for members to ask questions, sign-up for an event and volunteer.



Pair new members with existing members. Develop a mentor program for existing members to share membership benefits.



Offer remote or virtual hangouts for large chapters and traveling members. Invite new members to individual meetings to connect personally.



It’s essential that any chapter leader builds a strong relationship with fellow leaders and volunteers. That relationship is best if it’s built on mutual trust and shared interests. National will usually have specific expectations of what chapter leaders need to manage with regards to members’ data.

If a chapter leader is unclear on their responsibilities when it comes to data management, it’s a good idea to make time to discuss the following points. Ensure everyone’s on the same page early on in the process. Failure to do so can result in a hefty workload of data to sort out further down the line!

  • How often should you be reviewing or sharing your member roster with national?
  • How often can you expect national to review or share their member roster with you?
  • Are there opportunities for you and national to work together to optimize renewal or new membership efforts, while leveraging collected data and information?
  • Are there best practices that chapters should follow to ensure they’re consistently maintaining member data and updating changes when necessary?


You receive a lot of emails…we get it. Subscribe to the content you want and we’ll do the rest! We send updates on new articles, guides, webinars, events, conferences and more. Receive awesome resources in your inbox every month >>

About the author

Mark is known for his success in helping empower non-profit organizations across the U.S. and around the world to do more, multiply their impact, and grow. He regularly walks organizations through discovery processes that uncover internal obstacles, helping them identify and implement ways to more effectively run chapter-based organizations through process improvements and the use of innovative technologies. As a sought-after industry thought leader, he often speaks at leadership conferences, and regularly hosts educational roundtables and workshops in the non-profit sector. Mark has an unrelenting passion in helping solve problems for mission-based organizations so they can better focus on their mission and expand their impact across the nation and around the world.