Part II: The Field Guide to Chapter Crises

The second half of our two-part post on handy strategies that help prevent chapter crises. Reviewing crisis prevention strategies for 5 strategies.
Part II: The Field Guide to Chapter Crises

A field guide is designed to be brought out into the ‘field’ and help the reader identify objects. While the objects might fit one common theme (e.g. birds), the guide helps distinguish the specific identification. As you know, in this guide we aren’t talking about birds or plants, we are identifying prevention methods for chapter crisis scenarios. Oftentimes you hear cliché quotes or blanket statements about being prepared, but what you really need are the specifics.

In our Chapter Rescue Series, we took a deep dive into eleven different crisis scenarios your chapters could face. In this two-part field guide, we’re reviewing crisis prevention strategies that weaved through them all. In Part I, we covered these five crucial strategies:

  • #1: Communicate often with chapter leaders.
  • #2: Support chapters with time-saving technology.
  • #3: Provide online training for chapters.
  • #4: Create solid chapter policies and procedures.
  • #5: Offer chapter consulting services.

Now, let’s round out our guide with a look at six more strategies.


#6: Use a chapter checklist or self-assessment.

There are two popular methods for chapters to use to measure their preparedness. The first is the time-tested chapter checklist. Checklists simplify tasks into manageable pieces and help eliminate the possibility of overlooking any important items.

Another option is a chapter self-assessment. With a self-assessment, chapters evaluate how well (on a scale) they meet ‘best practice’ criteria. Chapters can also evaluate their biggest successes and challenges to identify any gaps.

In our post on website disasters, we look at how a website checklist can help chapters evaluate how well their site meets requirements, provides functionality needed for an optimal user experience and complies with procedures for domain renewal.


#7: Host monthly peer education/networking session.

As much as they may lean on you for support, sometimes chapters may respond better to advice from their own peers. Facilitating a network for chapter leaders can provide them with the space to learn and support each other. Dedicate a group in your online platform to just chapter leaders where they can collaborate and share resources.

Take this a step further by hosting the leaders on a monthly conference call or web meeting to discuss timely issues that will be relevant to all chapters. As we mentioned in our post on struggling chapter leaders, this type of meeting can also benefit you by allowing you to discuss leadership problems in a general way without having to zero in on one particular chapter. Keep the meeting recordings in your chapter leader group along with a description of the topics covered so they are easily accessible.

Monthly education sessions can also be used as a tool for growing the chapter’s leadership pipeline, as discussed in our post on leadership succession issues. Provide leadership training videos that can be accessed by chapter members so the chapter’s culture of leadership grows from the ground-up.


 #8: Provide a budget match to chapters.

If your budget allows, providing a budget match can be an easy way to encourage positive chapter activities or investments, such as a technology investment to amp up cybersecurity. With a dollar match, the chapter has some skin in the game. A match also demonstrates HQ’s acknowledgement of the chapter’s limited resources and its commitment to the chapter’s success.


#9: Distribute how-to resources.

If you are looking for instructions on completing a home project, there is a reason you start by typing the phrase “how to” into the Google search bar. How-to resources are handy reference guides for chapter leaders who are trying to figure out their new role. As we talked about in our article on outsourcing services, many chapter leaders are tackling this for the first time. Guides for how to hire vendors, due diligence questions, and red flags to watch for can go a long way in preventing hiring disasters.


#10: Identify local/regional professional services.

With a variety of companies vying for your chapter’s business, it can be hard for them to know who to trust. Put together a list of professional service providers that are trusted in the industry. You could research a particular theme of service providers each quarter and eventually build up a vault of helpful lists.

For example, when helping chapters navigate state compliance issues, identify a non-profit attorney with experience for each state and share this list with the applicable chapters. There are a variety of lists you could create for chapters like credible consultants in marketing, website development, cybersecurity, or HR.


#11: Develop reusable templates.

The time-consuming work involved with putting together communications and documentation can seem daunting, especially if you are doing so from scratch. Make the process easy for chapters by developing templates that they can tweak. Templates will ensure documents have a standard layout and streamline the workload involved in documentation.

In our post on natural disaster, we discuss having templates available for a business continuity/disaster recovery plan. Chapters can then customize the template to their specific needs. Other useful templates may include marketing copy for their website, common emails, data privacy policies, and contracts.


Effective prevention methods can reduce the stress caused by unexpected crises. In rounding out all of our prevention strategies, a few themes rise to the top: communication, support, and education. Invoke the strategies in this field guide to start digging into these important areas with your chapters. To dive deeper into any of the crisis scenarios mentioned, see the introductory post of our Chapter Rescue series.