Evolution of the Chapter [White Paper]

Chapters have been around as long as associations and in quite a few instances pre-date their respective national/international association. The need to have the face-to-face “in my neighborhood” connections remains strong. What’s changed is the need for a mini-version of the national organization and all the infrastructure to accommodate that.

Pre-technology / pre-internet we needed small organizations to reach our members. Associations still think of chapters as organizations rather communities thus we create metrics around operations rather than value delivered. Meanwhile, our members want to make change by working on things they are passionate about. If associations launched projects rather than organizations, they could leverage the passion of the members to create value.

We can’t have this conversation without also acknowledging the great shift in volunteering and its impact particularly on member components. The Decision To Volunteer (ASAE, 2008) showed us that nearly 60% of members prefer ad-hoc or micro volunteering and the lack of these types of volunteer opportunities and inflexibility in volunteering are the leading cause for low volunteering rates. Volunteers face a time-intensive job to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s required for a traditional incorporated entity. They are still being asked to “run” an organization. Tomorrow’s leaders look at the situation and simply refuse to participate.

Enter new models. Read about a few we’ve found.