Chapter Performance Dashboard: Right Side Up

As Jack Welch, management guru and former CEO of GE noted, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” We would add an important corollary to his observation: “You manage what you measure.” The latter is especially important because most associations’ chapters typically count the metrics that are easy to count rather than the metrics that should be counted. Those metrics, in turn, tend to be the primary drivers of the chapter’s activity, often leaving critical areas un-served or under-served.

Membership count, renewal percentage, event attendance, contribution to reserves, etc. usually lead the measurement parade for chapters. Few chapters, however, make the performance measurement leap made by many in the private sector, which looks at less obvious, but extremely important metrics such as market penetration, net prompter score and customer (member) engagement.

Would your association, your members and your mission be better served by focusing chapter efforts on performance rather than compliance? As an AMC which manages chapters and a consultancy which works extensively in component relations, my partner, Peggy Hoffman and I see far too many volunteer calories burned completing administrative checklists rather than serving members and mission – see Compliance: Do We Really Need to Bring Our Volunteers to Volun”tears”?

I don’t mean to suggest that organizational compliance should be ignored, rather that member & mission metrics should take precedence. And I would strongly argue that without the latter, the former is a tragic waste of everyone’s time and energy. I’m sorry to say we’ve seen far too many associations award “Chapter of the Year” to chapters which have managed to fill in all the organizational compliance check boxes, but done little if anything to serve the members or the mission. This sample chapter dashboard provides an example of a performance/compliance hierarchy that will help chapter leaders place their emphasis on members and mission.

The dashboard, however, cannot stand alone and needs to be complimented by a robust chapter support system that offers volunteer leaders a variety of resources and tools they can use as appropriate to serve their members as well as both face-to-face and online forums within which those leaders can share their experiences. One without the other will not get you where you want to go. It is the combination of the performance dashboard and support system that will ultimately ensure your chapters move the mission.