Chapters & Membership Growth – Yes, they Go Together

Chapters can play a key role in membership and revenue growth for your association.  They can help you reach new audiences, provide community, and nail retention. And they can be valuable influencers.  Here are a few examples – from associations. We’re exploring these at a July 10 workshop.

  • Expanding beyond your U.S. Base – Associations frequently deploy international chapters to move the organization beyond its US base, to build membership and to build brand worldwide – as seen in this article about three associations.


  • Tapping Chapters as Recruiters – The National Association of Homebuilders like many associations are keen on getting chapters in on recruitment. They boosted their success this past year by adding additional cash and prize incentives awarded top recruiters who were in good standing with an affiliated state or local building association. Success included increase in membership in many states as shared in HBAs Upping their Recruitment Game. Check out the examples of phone-a-thon.


  • Chapters as Service Delivery Channel – Military Officers Association of America is tapping its local network to deliver direct assistance to military families in local communities. Through the MOAA Foundation Community Outreach program, councils and chapters receive grants to fund programs in nine areas of critical military and veteran family need. Chapters can spread an organization’s mission on the local level meeting members at their point of need. MOAA’s grant leveraged the power of its chapters and their charitable work. The added plus is strengthening the national-chapter relationship. Maybe you don’t have a community service focus, however chapters are particularly adept at providing locally delivered education and professional mentoring. Regulatory Professionals Association New York-New Jersey chapter piloted a speed mentoring program that drew wide attendance and got rave marks – and since is a model for other chapters. Similarly, Mid-Atlantic chapter of the American Inns of Court offered professional matchmaking with a set-up that placed mentors on the outside of the circle, mentees on the inside.


  • Partners in Public OutreachWorld Landscape Architecture Month occurs each April and since 2017, chapters have played an important role in building the exposure and success of this outreach. The basic story is that ASLA lets each of its chapters take over its Instagram feed for a day, for 49 days in all. Yes, it could be a risk given that their Instagram groups has 52,000+ followers.


  • Chapters as a BETA Tester – Marketing can cost a lot for sometimes questionable results. That’s were beta-testing comes in. American Optometric Association married the beta test idea with a chapter strategy that yielded a successful model for recruiting young people. Essentially, they piloted a member recruitment campaign with chapters. They were able to test-drive all elements before it rolled out nationally.


  • The Ambassador Role – Chapters can have a different – and even closer – relationship with members than National. With that in mind, CoreNet Global tapped their 47 chapters to serve as local ambassadors for a major research project for the profession. The project was about driving transformational change in their industry and it required member input. That’s where the chapters came in. Toolkits and an online portal became the means for chapters to play an instrumental role in FutureForward2025. American Nurses Association tapped state associations to drive their Healthy Nurses, Healthy Nation program to a next level. The #FitNurseFriday5k became the instrument and through state support the participation goal was exceeded by 300%.


  • Leveraging Chapters to create Buzz – The Association of Change Management Professionals was looking for another inroad for creating buzz as a lead up to the annual conference. In a nutshell, they launched the ACMP “Road to Conference Challenge” as a weekly trivia game for members over the three months before the conference. Each week, they profiled an ACMP chapter with a link to a short quiz that would pay off with a $1,000 gift card or free conference registration.


  • New Programs & Opportunities Born Locally – Texas chapter of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) sprang into action after Hurricane Harvey. They used Google Doc to match schools who needed help to schools who wanted to help. The Texas chapter (and National) witnessed an incredible outpouring of help by students. Then came Hurricanes Irma and Maria along with the Northern California wildfires happened. EdTA scaled the Texas idea to nationally. Bonus, gaining deep connections to students – the future of their association.  Read more examples at Components as Innovation Incubators.


At the July 10 Chapter Workshop: Leverage Chapters to Engage & Grow Membership, we’re going to dive into how more associations can succeed. (Reading this too late to attend – email us for more info).

What’s your success story?