The Digital Boost Your Chapters Need to Recruit Members

Volunteer leaders juggle chapter duties with all their other responsibilities. And chapter staff? They’re stretched thin too, jumping from one task to another. Your chapter leaders can’t give enough attention to their organization’s digital presence, particularly their website and email marketing. They don’t always use these tools effectively to recruit members—so that’s where you come in.

At the Association Component Exchange (CEX) last fall, one of our table discussion topics was about helping components grow their membership. In our last post, we shared ideas for member recruitment resources and strategies. This time, we’re focusing on technical and marketing assistance that helps chapters level up their member recruitment game.



Where’s the first place a membership prospect goes? The chapter or affiliate website—it’s the chapter’s virtual membership brochure and front door. When components or affiliates operate independently from National, their digital presence often suffers. The old culprits are to blame: time and technology.

Components don’t always have enough time to update their website so it’s full of outdated information or lackluster copy. Prospects can’t tell if the chapter is active or not. They don’t see anything that persuades them to explore membership further.

Bargain basement technology is another problem. The website isn’t responsive (mobile-friendly), loads slowly, or has no search function. What happens? Website visitors don’t return. And if that’s not bad enough, Google punishes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly or quick-loading, so the chapter ends up on page 4 of search results.

To make sure chapter websites meet members’, prospects’, and Google’s expectations, do a chapter website audit as part of your annual review. Help chapters develop a plan to improve their website functionality and copy.



Don’t let your chapters flounder with bare-bones technology. Look into website and email marketing solutions you can offer to all chapters so they can improve their marketing and branding, search engine ranking, and communication with prospects and members.

For example, one of the CEX attendees covers the cost of a MailChimp premium subscription for their chapters. Or, provide email blast services as the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources does for its chapters—they explain how in their Chapter Leader Toolkit video.

  1. Relieve the burden of administrative tasks so chapter staff and leaders can increase their focus on marketing and recruitment.
  2. Find ways to streamline data entry, data-sharing with National, dues disbursement, and financial reconciliation.
  3. Consider implementing a shared system, hosted by National, for processing payments and tracking financials.



What prevents a prospect from taking that last step and becoming a member? It often comes down to two cherished things: time and money. If joining the chapter or affiliate takes too long or looks too expensive, many prospects won’t make the effort.



Show components how to streamline the joining process. Membership prospects expect to take care of all their business online, including association business, like joining and paying dues. Make sure components have the technology and processes in place to securely accept online membership applications (data) and dues payments.



A long application is a deterrent to joining. Keep forms brief by collecting only the data you need to establish qualifications, you can gather the rest during new member onboarding. Granted, some societies have stringent membership requirements, but for the most part, it should only take a few minutes at the most to join or request to join your association. Either require chapters to use a standard application or review their application to make sure they’re not putting obstacles in the way of membership.



The other barrier to membership is money. Many prospects can’t afford a large dues payment. Even if their employer pays, sometimes the employee has to spend the money up-front and get reimbursed later. Make it easy on them by offering Instead of paying a big initial bill, monthly dues payments are automatically charged to the member’s or employer’s credit card or made via an electronic funds transfer from a checking account.

We still have more great ideas to share from CEX. In our next post, we discuss different ways to provide member recruitment training to chapters, affiliates, and sections.

About the author

Sarah has a soft-spot for component relations professionals (CRPs), creating amazing experiences, and having a good laugh. She focuses her time at Billhighway on building and delivering chapter-focused resources, creating unique experiences for CRPs through webinars, events and the one-of-a-kind Component Exchange (CEX). Sarah is passionate about exploring new ideas and trying new things. What we really want to say is Sarah is a component bad@$$ who is sure to put a smile on your face.