Benchmarking Report: Chapter role in member engagement grows

There is a shift occurring in the world of chapters. Associations are increasingly viewing chapters as a critical element of their membership engagement strategy. In the 2019 Benchmarking Report, member engagement rose even higher on the list of strategic importance of chapter programs. In fact, 64% viewed member engagement as an “absolutely essential” role for their chapters.

This shift is occurring as associations come to understand that even the digital generations seek face-to-face opportunities to connect, learn, volunteer, and socialize with their peers, mentors, and clients. Getting to national or global events, however, is a challenge and so local chapter activities takes on significant value in this increasingly online world.

The 2019 report, unveiled at the Association Component Exchange on October 18, shares the data collected from 177 participating associations at the end of 2018. Mariner Management in collaboration with Billhighway and researcher Kevin Whorton Whorton Marketing & Research launched this second edition of the chapter benchmarking study to gather industry data associations need to benchmark their chapter programs. We also wanted to fuel the dialogue on what makes an effective chapter—and an effective chapter/association relationship.

What does the 2019 data tell us?

In addition to the shift in a view of member engagement, there was an uptick in exploring a more rigorous assessment of associations and considering the value of having chapters. This observation is not obvious in the number of respondents indicating they calculate ROI or recognize financial contribution; these number are relatively unchanged. Only 4% calculate a chapter ROI and 18% recognize a financial contribution from chapters. The trend however is seen in the jump in metrics assessed. There is an increase in tracking membership numbers and participation.

member engagement in chapters

Beyond these notable shifts, associations and their chapters are, by and large, doing many of the same things they did in our last report both in terms of the type of activity in which chapters engage and the type of support associations are providing to chapters. This is not to say there is no change. We see slight variations in a number of areas such as associations harnessing more technology in training leaders.

Download the full report for more details and examples from associations who are embracing the shifts.