TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS FOR CHAPTER BASED ORGANIZATIONS
In case you missed any of our previous webinars, we’ll recap some of our best tips, tricks and advice.
Watch this webinar to see the top 10 takeaways for chapter-based associations. We’ll talk about learning from other component relations professionals (CRPs), supporting volunteers, setting expectations and more! View Slides >>
- Define Reality: What is your current situation? Describe the who, what, where, when, why and how. Identify red flags and create a plan.
- Know What Matters: Align your organization and define your goals. Determine what success looks like and track/measure them.
- Start Small: Identify 2-3 goals to pilot and test. Focus on the top 10% and bottom 10% of your organization.
- Tell A Story: Data is your friend. You need to collect the data, interpret it and put it to use.
- Learn From Other CRPs: Learn from each other. Attend an event or conference. Use ASAE’s Collaborate. Call/email another CRP. Ask Billhighway.
- Ask for Feedback: Survey your chapters and members. Create a working or advisory group. Follow up and make a change.
- Support Volunteers: Reduce the burden by providing tools and templates. Support volunteers by offering training and professional development options.
- Set a Cadence: Communication is a two-way street. Create regular check-in meetings and put it on the calendar.
- Set Expectations: Set chapter expectations so they have bylaws. Create a Rules of Affiliation handout or Chapter Playbook.
- Be Aware of Pitfalls: Paralysis by analysis. Don’t have a fear of failure. Provide some tough love to your chapters/volunteers.
All of these tips are important to consider when running or expanding your chapter based organization, but there are more ways to improve your processes. Billhighway was designed to take stress off of your chapter leaders and give them the tools they need to succeed. Let’s take a look at how we can help simplify the management of your chapter based organization.
PERFORMANCE TECHNOLOGY TO SIMPLIFY THE MANAGEMENT OF YOUR CHAPTER BASED ORGANIZATION
When it comes to a nonprofit organization such as a fraternity, sorority, or national association, do you ever wonder if local chapter volunteer leaders really know what they’re getting into? The responsibilities of managing a chapter take many of them far outside their comfort zone. Volunteer chapter leaders are not association management experts. They’re not financial whizzes, compliance professionals, database managers, technologists, or website administrators. Yet, once they get to the top of the leadership ladder, they’re expected to act like an entire association C-suite and figure all this stuff out.
Chapter members take on leadership roles because they want to help deliver chapter membership value to their professional community. However, chapter management tasks distract them from that primary focus. The good news is chapter leaders and component relations professionals (CRPs) don’t have to put up with this frustrating situation. The solution is out there, but you might not know about it yet.
A SOLUTION TO VARIOUS CHAPTER MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES
Everyone’s familiar with association management systems (AMS), financial management systems (FMS), event registration platforms, and other tools used for chapter management. But do you know about our chapter performance tool that unifies all that functionality? Our Billhighway software can dramatically lessen the time that you and your volunteer leaders spend on chapter management.
In this article, we’re going to cover how Billhighway can help chapter leadership to effectively manage four critical aspects of association management:
- Event Management
- Website Management
- Data Management
- Financial Management
CHALLENGES OF CHAPTER EVENT MANAGEMENT
AMS solutions are focused on HQ, not on chapters. An AMS doesn’t provide any visibility into member engagement at the chapter level. The member community is built and strengthened at chapter events. It’s where members hear news about comings and goings, discuss hot topics, provide advice, nurture business leads, and pursue learning. You have members who aren’t that engaged with HQ, but are strongly connected with their chapter. Where is that engagement data captured?
THE SHORTCOMINGS OF POPULAR EVENT REGISTRATION PLATFORMS
Unfortunately, with event registration, chapters tend to go their own way, relying on free or inexpensive tools, like Eventbrite. But these event registration platforms have a major shortcoming for chapters and HQ—they’re siloed. You and your chapters can’t collect and analyze attendee and event data in your database or AMS. You can’t track a person’s attendance over the past year or nurture leads on new potential members.
Administration issues arise too. Chapters must keep track of login credentials for multiple platforms. Cybersecurity risk rises as passwords are passed around or stored insecurely. When leadership changes over, volunteers get locked out, have to create new accounts, and lose data and templates.
HQ must rely on chapter reports to know what’s going on, and by the time you receive those reports, it might be too late. During the pandemic, there was no easy way to tell which chapters were hosting virtual education and meetups, and which went dark. During ‘normal’ times, you can’t see what percentage of members attended events or which non-members attended. You can’t easily compare chapter performance, or identify high performers (bright spot chapters) who get participation from all segments of their membership and market and under-performers (at-risk chapters) who end up with empty tables.
AN EVENT REGISTRATION AND DATA SOLUTION FOR CHAPTERS AND HQ
Chapter volunteer leaders aren’t technology experts, yet they’re expected to pick event registration platforms and set up PayPal accounts. With the Billhighway suite of event management tools, every step of the event process is simplified for them: planning, registration, promotion, execution, and evaluation. Instead of being siloed to another platform, event data is part of your association’s and chapters’ technology ecosystem.
Event revenue and chapter financials are all in one place. Our software automatically transfers revenue to the chapter’s Billhighway account and reconciles all the charges. The mobile app and card reader allow chapters to accept in-person registration fees, sell raffle tickets, collect donations, and securely transfer funds to their Billhighway account.
With Billhighway, your chapters have a secure method of tracking payments and collecting funds while minimizing the risk of financial mismanagement. HQ doesn’t have to ask busy chapter leaders to submit a report summarizing event attendance and revenue—you can automatically access this information. Billhighway provides registration, attendance, and financial data that helps you and your chapters understand their performance and member engagement. CRPs can spend their time providing consultation to chapters, not nagging them for reports. With Billhighway data, you can help chapters see the story in their data and understand where opportunities exist and where problems are surfacing.
CHALLENGES OF CHAPTER WEBSITE MANAGEMENT
Websites are another troublesome area for chapters. Chapter volunteers must find someone to design, develop, and maintain their website. They either outsource this work, despite not having the expertise to select the best vendors, or they do it themselves. DIY efforts might start off strong, but soon the site languishes and presents a poor public image.
A WEBSITE SOLUTION FOR CHAPTERS
With Billhighway, you can give all your chapters a microsite. The plug-and-play templates make these sites a breeze for chapter leaders to update and maintain. With pre-built templates, you can easily include the latest news, recruitment resources, professional development information, and more without having to employ a website designer, developer, and hosting provider. Website maintenance is no longer a stressor or embarrassment, plus you can count on standard and consistent branding across your entire chapter network.
THE CHALLENGES OF CHAPTER DATA MANAGEMENT
Sharing data between HQ and your chapters/affiliates is no fun for anyone. It’s an administrative burden for chapter leaders and often a nightmare for HQ membership and accounting staff. Whether members join at the national or local level, someone is downloading or uploading a roster. Data is, at best, a few days old or, at worst, a few months old, which means new members can’t log in or access benefits right away.
Association management systems (AMS) may have chapter modules, but the functionality is focused on the national association, not chapters, which becomes a problem for data analytics. HQ doesn’t have any visibility into member engagement at the chapter level, only at the national level. Associations with chapters or components need a holistic data solution that shows interactions at both the HQ and chapter level.
A HOLISTIC CHAPTER PERFORMANCE SOLUTION FOR HQ/NATIONAL AND CHAPTER DATA MANAGEMENT
“If only!” you say. Well, guess what, the solution already exists. With Billhighway, chapters (or affiliates) and HQ are connected in ways that matter. Billhighway organically collects chapter data without anyone having to do anything. That’s right, data sharing is automated. You don’t have to nag chapters for reports, and chapter leaders are not spending their limited time compiling spreadsheets for you.
Member (and attendee) data is a powerful asset for HQ. When you have access to chapter member engagement data, you can:
- Benchmark chapter performance.
- See upward and downward trends.
- Pinpoint engaged membership segments and at-risk segments.
- Identify bright spot chapters.
- Know which chapters need help.
- Determine where to prioritize resources.
THE SOLUTION FOR CHAPTER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT CONCERNS
Member data issues are frustrating, but financial management issues are deeply troubling. Chapter finance is a laborious task, but a serious responsibility for chapter leaders. It requires attention to details—from the reconciliation of accounts to being on guard against financial fraud. You rely on busy volunteer leaders to handle these responsibilities, which takes their time and attention away from more mission-centric concerns.
Billhighway is a chapter financial management solution that gives HQ visibility into chapter performance while allowing chapters to maintain their autonomy. It alleviates the administrative burden of chapter leaders and minimizes the risk of financial mismanagement or fraud.
TRANSFORM THE CHAPTER LEADER EXPERIENCE
HQ staff and chapter volunteers shouldn’t have to spend time figuring out the split in membership dues payments between HQ and chapters, sending and depositing checks, and exchanging membership reports. Billhighway automatically splits dues between HQ and chapters and deposits funds to the appropriate accounts. Chapters don’t have to wait for disbursements since everything happens in real-time as dues are received.
With their Billhighway dashboard, chapter leaders can manage member transaction data, chapter dues, banking, payments, budget, and financial reporting—and HQ has access to these chapter dashboards too.
Chapter leader transitions are much smoother when Billhighway is involved. Outgoing leaders lose access to accounts, while new leaders receive the permissions and access appropriate to their positions. Old hassles, like changing bank account signors, are no longer a concern. An onboarding email campaign takes new leaders through Billhighway training and a support team of chapter experts stands by to assist.
IMPROVE CHAPTER COMPLIANCE AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
You no longer have to worry about chapters running afoul of PCI compliance because of their credit card procedures. The Billhighway mobile solution ensures that all in-person credit card transactions are processed as securely as online transactions.
Most associations have experienced financial mismanagement at one of their chapters. Perhaps a well-intentioned volunteer paid a fraudulent bill or, worse, a chapter leader embezzled money. The cost of embezzlement and subsequent forensic audits is bad enough, but these actions also damage the association’s and chapter’s reputation, and the trust of members and the community. The financial controls built into Billhighway prevent fraud and ensure chapter leaders adhere to sound financial practices.
Make an Investment in Your Chapters
Given their limited knowledge and time, chapter leaders and volunteers aren’t capable of wearing every association management hat. A chapter performance tool like Billhighway takes care of event, website, data, and financial management—everything chapter leaders need. When every chapter uses Billhighway, chapter leaders become one big user group. At leadership conferences, online meetups, and in your chapter leader community or Slack channel, volunteer leaders can discuss how they’re taking advantage of these technical resources and share best practices.
Volunteer leadership becomes a lot more enticing when, instead of managing technical tasks beyond their ‘paygrade,’ chapter leaders can focus on what they’re passionate about—their mission and members—not managing a nonprofit organization.
If you’re ready to make a business case for more HQ attention and investment in your chapters, our ebook explains how chapter member engagement data can help. If you’ve already made your case, we’d love to show you how our chapter performance solution works and how it can help you increase the chapter ROI for your association.