One of the significant trends developing in 2019 is the increased interest by national organizations in strengthening their chapter operations. I’m not saying there haven’t been previous efforts by national groups, but greater attention is being placed on state and local levels today brought about by several factors.
First, we’ve seen an increased number of advocacy issues play out on state and local level – for example, the plastic straw and soda bans. While members are actively engaged with national advocacy initiatives, members are becoming increasingly involved at the state and chapter level.
Secondly, chapters are often the ‘tip of the spear’ for the delivery of membership value. Whether or not the national association is responsible for recruitment, brand awareness and perception of the association starts at the chapter level. Members attend local events, meetings, and will often serve in their first leadership role. So, if the delivery of value meets with a bumpy road at the chapter level – this experience could adversely affect the national organization.
And, third – it’s become much more challenging for our national organizations to recruit volunteer leaders. As just noted – the state level is where these roles often are and should be cultivated. These new leaders must be placed on highly strategic initiatives at the state level, so they can gain the experience and develop a strong vision in preparation for recruitment to national boards.
Over the last year or so, we’ve been speaking to organizations about the roles of the national and local organizations, how the business model works, and how membership value at all levels can be seamless and smooth. This relationship is essential. Where the rubber hits the road is an area where we’ve been assisting national organizations who have hired us to help their states recruit, retain, and engage members. It’s a new era for national associations as they are recognizing that success at the state level – will indeed be realized at the national level.
An organization with a local, regional, and national structure can be extremely effective. The ability to deliver value locally, exercise a national strategy, and wield influence is incredibly effective. The formation of this synergist relationship is an extraordinary opportunity and is the very best association model out there.
For more on chapter relations, check out JP Moery’s blog, Chapter Relations – Are They Worth It?