Sending CRPs Some Love

On 2/23, Mariner & Billhighway sent “CRPs Some Love!” by sharing some of the best chapter resources collected over the years. The conversation focused on the top 6 challenges facing CRPs right now. Listen in for some ideas on handling these challenges and see below for a quick snapshot of the topics discussed (be sure to check out the links for more resources below)

Top 6 challenges:

Leader Succession: Lack of qualified leaders and volunteer burnout is a continuing problem in low-performing chapters, leading to disappointment among members and potential volunteers. How we make the chapter leadership experience more enticing? And how can we support or supplement chapters in tackling this challenge? We can transform the experience:

  • Shift the model. Start with the volunteer not the positions, i.e., turn the focus towards what volunteers are looking for rather than what we (the association) needs.
  • Make it fun. Start by lightening the load for chapter volunteers (less admin task and more focus on mission). Provide coaching where needed.
  • Develop talent. Shift to talent development. Change the vernacular. It’s not about putting together a slate; it’s about pulling together a community. It’s about selling the excitement of volunteering …. Be matchmakers!


Chapter Events & the Shift to Virtual: Planning and implementing a quality event can be a sludge-fest for volunteers. They have to decide on the right content, the type of event (in-person, virtual), the logistics, and marketing strategies. So how do we help our chapters with these decisions?

  • Be a curator. Share info and ideas that are relevant. Share your editorial content so the chapters can then build upon those themes. Help identify the top content members need when determining the purpose and content.
  • Prepare tool-kits and templates to help them with designing a program as well as the attendee experience (safety, format, networking, revenue, partners etc.) Note that the blurring of lines has changed the conversation so think about connecting dots, i.e., ask chapters to host a focused, tailored deeper dive on national virtual programs.
  • Teach/train leaders on how to use relevant technology that goes beyond just handing out how-to lists.
  • Share chapter events via a communal calendar to promote collaboration between chapters. Also serves the member by giving more options.


Readiness for the job (compelling training and development): The right training can give leaders information to sharpen skills and prompt them to think differently leading to more success. How can we enhance the training experience to meet the needs and interests of our volunteers?

  • Tie motivations to learning. Explore what is motivating the volunteer, what training best suits that motivation, and what skills can be developed with that training.
  • Follow adult learner practices. Adults have an existing base of knowledge and life experience and seek out continuous learning based on personal interests, wants, and needs. Leverage it.
  • Consider using a learner journey map that aligns with volunteer motivations and aspirations increase a volunteer’s willingness to invest time in training. Be learner-centric.


Getting Chapter buy-in (for changes): Implementing new technology or programming across chapters doesn’t have to overly challenging – it’s all in how you approach it. Consider this as a change management process. So how do I roll out new tech & programming to my chapters?

  • Involve your chapter leaders to be part of the solution. Discuss problems with the status quo, obstacles to a chapter’s success and possible solutions. Give time to work it through.
  • Take a trickle-up approach. Brainstorm with your chapters to find programs that could work for other chapters or at the National level. Collaborate on the details including your level of involvement.
  • Build trust – repair your relationships with your chapters. Get rid of the ‘us vs. them’ mentality. Be transparent, make it personal, and communicate … communicate … communicate.


Listening and coaching (it’s the secret sauce!). When you truly listen to your leaders, you gain an understand of their strengths and weaknesses and can identify ways to support them.

  • Learn the 3 levels of listening (internal, focused, global).
  • Know your power questions: Know the ‘why.’ In order to help, we don’t need to have the answers, we need to understand the questions, i.e., what our chapter leaders are thinking, worrying about, etc.
  • Share intel: respond – mine your chapter reports & input, schedule one-on-one time, create quick reports for staff to share intel.


Benchmarking & Dashboards: How do I measure chapter performance, confirm (prove) value?

  • Start with the why. Don’t start with process questions.
  • Connect to strategic goals. Think about which of these elements are important then report only on the ones that matter. Measure what matters.
  • Tell those stores that connect back to the ROI; think big picture (ROI impact to all chapters, think of how chapters contributing to key initiatives, think of small successes and bright spots.
  • Make a case or chapters. Pull your numbers together, capture the intangibles, tell the chapter value story.

When we empower our own data, we can then have those conversations with chapters & c-suite

More resources (because we love CRPs!)


Need more? Check out our CRP Solution Center for resources on building dashboards, creating resources portals, and shifting to a coaching role for your volunteers. Also visit Billhighway’s Association Resources page for more resources created for associations with components (chapters, sections, states, and affiliates).