Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working with a number of associations on the issue of how to address the struggles of the current chapter. Much of this research, discussion and testing has led us to a couple of observations:
(1) If a chapter does little more than put on a handful of events each year, do they really need a board of directors, or would a “regional event team” with some limited professional support from HQ be sufficient?
(2) Does having a board of directors translate into a substantive advocacy capacity? Or could an association devise a robust advocacy process to be implemented on the fly where and when needed.
(3) We would respectfully suggest there may be a number of less expensive alternatives that don’t require the establishment of “mini-nationals” which require articles of incorporation, by-laws, insurance, board of directors, etc. Think instead of more ad hoc, resource-light structures which have a tightly-focused scope of operation, a clearly-defined mission and meaningful, time-constrained goals.
For sure, there may be some areas where a full-fledged chapter is justified for legal and financial reasons, but do all need that? We are not saying that what the chapters are attempting is not of potential value. In fact, we believe few, if any, national organizations could survive without a local presence. This presence when delivered through the traditional chapter format however produces results which often do not justify the number of volunteer ( not to mention association staff) calories and resources burned.
As we explore the options, we’ll add findings and resources to our brand new Chapter of the Future page. Bookmark this and by all means jump into the dialog!