By: Nikki Jackson & Kelley Norris
Proper chapter management is fundamental to the success of an association. Part of putting your chapters in a position to succeed is giving them the right tools. But, what exactly are the right tools? There are many ways you can help your chapters succeed, but these are some of the best tools to set them on an upward trajectory.
The COVID-19 pandemic created very uncharacteristic times which saw an almost universal shift to the virtual world. Whether your organization was prepared or not, you had to quickly adapt to the new normal around you. It’s moments like these when your chapters need the most support from you. The shift to an all-virtual world was scary for many, with platforms like Zoom being introduced to some people for the first time. Offering chapters the option of tech support on the national association’s video conference platform helped the non-tech savvy to flatten the curve so they can focus on the task at hand without the need of additional hands-on deck from their local volunteers.
Not to be missed, there are many wonderful chapter management software systems available to help chapters stay organized and maintain volunteers and members. Your chapter leaders may feel hesitant about adopting one of these systems. However, your chapter leaders will quickly see the benefits that a system like this can bring, making their often-daunting role more manageable.
Collaboration between chapters should be encouraged, especially for those struggling with improving member numbers and engagement. When two chapters band together, their resource pool deepens, and their individual strengths can be maximized. The point of a collaboration is to strengthen yourself and others, arming yourself with more ways of adding value to the member experience. Working with sister chapters is a resourceful way to provide educational opportunities for members, increase access to content, and promote interprofessional collaboration. Look to pair sister chapters which complement each other.
Include a centralized event calendar on the national site to help promote chapter events. This is an easy way to keep that chapters’ audience in the loop on key events. Also, create a page on the national site for specific chapters. Doing this makes it easy for prospective members to locate information and contact their local chapter.
An easy way to boost the spirits of chapter leaders is by starting a Chapter Awards Recognition program. This is an excellent way to thank your chapters for their commitment to the association and highlight some of their exemplary work. Examples for categories are:
- Education Programing
- Conference Planning
- Publishing or Promotion
- Best Use of Technology
- Membership Development
This kind of recognition promotes the hard work and dedication of chapter leaders while shining a light on association growth and value that these leaders bring to the table.
Chapter leaders often need guidance in developing a marketing plan. It is best for national to develop one for them and then give them the training and tools necessary to implement it. Create marketing tools such as graphic they can use, and templates they can easily drop their logo into, and save them as part of your online platform for easy access. Encourage your chapters to share a monthly, chapter-focused newsletter as a part of their marketing plan. A little training an guidance in the area of marketing will go a long way.
Keep the lines of communication going between the national office and the chapters. Ask them what they need in the way of training and resources, and then provide all that you can. Helping the chapters, helps the national office, which will only benefit the overall mission of the association. The right tools will certainly make this an easier task.