Association Now focuses on Chapter/National Relations

Kim Fernandez does a great job at covering the positives, negatives and questions related to chapter-national relationships in Chapter/National Relations: Pulling Together or Pulling Apart (Associations Now, October 2008). I should certainly say that since she’s quoted me, but that’s not my motivation. What is my motivation is to keep the dialog about components in the “open space.”

I was pleased to see the comments by Mark Amtower, immediate past chairman of the American Small Business Coalition, because he focused on members. He’s in a unique place in that ASBC doesn’t have chapters. They have struggled with the decision to go local – build a chapter program – for more than a year. ASBC debated launching local affiliates, but ultimately decided against the move because of the group’s “relatively small, still-new membership.” He noted that “while they know members could certainly benefit from having established, chartered groups on a local level, they also fear that those same members are simply too busy to get those chapters going without more help.”

Absolutely true. And, Amtower told Kim that any roll-out will be “done at a time and in a format that doesn’t rely so much on asking already-busy people to add something else to their schedules.” (I’ve added the emphasis!)

Very smart thinking.

What I also noted was Amtower’s comment that they would roll-out based on members’ interest and needs. So he doesn’t see a full-scale, has to be available to every member, program.

The challenge for Amtower and all national groups is to keep the focus on what members’ need and want while creating programs that don’t burden them. And that may mean a chapter structure that’s not necessarily formal or a legal entity. The chapter that ASBC or any association starts may not need to incorporation or have a formal board. What do you think?