11 ways to help chapters avoid (or handle) a crisis

The way you approach crisis management in your chapters depends on your established relationships. With this mind –take time to examine your relationship by pausing and focusing on where chapters stumbled in the past and how you be there to help avoid these pitfalls going forward.

Whether your chapter structure is subsidiary or independent, these tips and best practices can help you handle (or hopefully avoid) your next chapter crisis.

Listen in here and check out this quick summary.

First, a quick look at the 11 of the most common crises:

Financial mismanagement Cybersecurity Struggling chapter leaders
Financial Fraud Data Privacy Leadership succession challenges
Compliance issues Website disasters Outsourcing & hiring
Legal risks & liabilities Natural disaster  


The first group (financial, compliance, legal risks & liabilities) often result from inexperience and/or lack of time/motivation to learn best practices. Equally, issues such as cybersecurity, data privacy and website disasters stem from lack of knowledge or technical expertise, while natural disasters (whether locally, nationally or globally) can have huge ramifications for chapters without adequate planning.

All of these can be hindered by the last column, i.e., struggling chapter leaders, succession challenges, and outsourcing & hiring issues. On the other hand, strong leadership and succession strategies can be key to handling the other eight items while the right outsourcing and hiring practices can support the leadership.

So, what can we do? Here are some common tools to help mitigate these issues:

1. Continually work on your relationship with chapter leaders Build a trusting relationship, regularly communicate, and provide helpful resources.

2. Support chapters with time-saving technologyHelp chapter leaders save time, avoid errors, provide better member and user experience, and stay in alignment with HQ.

3. Provide online training for chaptersEducation is the best prevention.

4. Host peer education & networking sessionsHelp leaders get to know, support, and learn from each other.

5. Create chapter policies and procedures* – Encourage (or require) chapter adopt policies and procedures you develop.

6. Offer chapter consulting servicesSometimes chapters need more assistance than a polity, video, or checklist can provide.

7. Use a chapter self-assessmentLet’s shift from watchdog to coach as a better approach to gaining compliance.

8. Provide a budget match to chaptersIdentify chapter activities you want to encourage and provide a budget match.

9. Distribute how-to resourcesProvide a handy reference for chapter leaders in areas of higher risk or association priorities.

10. Identify local/regional professional servicesA list of vetted professional service providers ensures that chapters know where to turn when they need help and minimizes the likelihood of conflicts of interest.

11. Address the volunteer drainThis is the root of the problem. Help chapters embrace micro, ad hoc, episodic volunteering; reduce the requirements for BODs/committees; be a volunteer recruiter; reward & spotlight volunteers; alleviate the burden on chapter members; replace checklists with impact measures.

*Having an affiliation agreement is important! This is the agreement between you and your chapters that spells out how you will work together. Be sure to review annually with your chapters,. Don’t let it just fade into a distant memory.

Bottom line: let chapters know they’re not in it alone. Give them more support the need.

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