Prepping for 2021 and beyond: How can we act?

Tip: Create the feeling of “we’re all in this together.” Collaboration is something we want to continue to tap into in 2021.

In our last post recapping our September 23rd Idea Swap, we talked about six lessons we’ve learned over the past year. These lessons were the jump-off point for the next activity where we broke up into groups to talk about what has and what hasn’t worked in 2020, and what we can change going into 2021. Below are some of the lessons and advice we gathered from the breakouts: 

On overall management of chapters: Here are some things our participants found that have worked and that may be useful in the future.  

  • Monitor the financial health of chapters via a survey asking for indepth financial numbers (one association had 92% of chapters respond) with the message “we want to help you but we don’t know how unless we see what we’re working with. This also tells you which chapters understand basic accounting.   
  • Onboard new members at the local level via a 30-minute Zoom meeting. Invite everyone coming up for renewal to learn about what the association is doing, ask questions, share feedback. 
  • Offer free student membership for students and young professionals to introduce them to industry titans. Found doing virtually was easier to do.
  • Offer membership discounts to those attending the chapter leader workshops. 
  • Schedule alerts/communications for more consistent communications. 
  • Create training manuals for chapter management. 
  • Offer grants and financial aid programs, i.e., mini-grants in ’21 for chapter projects such as innovative programs that work in the new normal to showcase and focus on member value. 


Tip: Offer more frequent connection points among local association CEOs to share ideas, challenges, and successes.

On events/meetings: Events were definitely a challenge in 2020, but many associations rose to the occasion with innovative ideas such as splitting conferences into 2 or more half-days as noted above. Here are a few other lessons CRPs learned …  

  • Shorter events/meetings work better. Sessions held over 3-4 days and quarterly offerings get more participation. Likewise, conferences moved online can be split into sessions (8 hours over the course of 2 or more days). Refocus content on the important issues of the day. 
  • Combat Zoom fatigue by making it fun and worthwhile. It doesn’t have to be educational – play games, network, virtual happy hour, etc.  
  • Include Zoom breakouts in the meetings. That’s what we did here! 
  • Be creative, especially for those on a small budget. Focus on providing a way for people to connect. Some of the successful events our participants held include … 
    • Chapter knowledge series hosted by the chapters: 1 or 2 a month based on need. Found having individual chapters facilitate the sessions helped participation.  
    • Water cooler events where participants can talk about anything they want.  
    • Member Power Hours, i.e., 2 min infomercial to highlight members/companies. Include LinkedIn url in chat, attendee list with information, screenshot with names and faces, etc.  
    • Quarterly Chapter Chats, i.e., casual video meetings 
    • Pop up meetings that are topic-based. 


Interesting tidbit on volunteers:  

*One CRP noted that having their volunteers move to micro-volunteering has worked well. The downside is that it does require more staff.  

*Likewise, another CRP found that having member-led committees shift to virtual meetings is more productive so that will continue. It appears that not having them attached to the face-to-face meetings has been helpful. Hmmm…  

We look forward to seeing how this turbulent year will shape our thinking as we head into 2021 and beyond.