Six Ways to Collaborate with Components

Originally published in Associations Now 2008

If you are like 48% of associations, you have components (chapters/branches, affiliates, special interest groups, communities of practice). If you don’t have components formally, you very likely have them informally – just check Face Book, LinkedIn or one of the other social/professional web networks. Very likely in all cases, you’re asking how you can work better with them or how to get more value from the relationship.

In a survey of ASAE & The Center members two years ago which focused largely on geographic components, associations were almost unanimous in their belief that components contribute to an association and nearly a quarter reported revenue contributions. Here are six ways you can get those results.

Use to reach an emerging segment – The Urban Land Institute (ULI) offers an excellent example of this through their Young Leaders Group (YLG) program. Created by ULI Houston in 2001, today all 51 District Councils in North America have a YLG. This fiscal year YLGs are expected to hold over 250 events with over 13,000 attendees. YLs, defined as people under the age of 35, have been the fastest growing membership segment for the past several years. In 2002, ULI basically had no members under the age of 35 and today YLs make up 24% of just over 40,000 members worldwide. [Suzan Yungner, Vice President District Councils, Urban Land Institute]

Coordinate the brand and message to the public – CFA Institute was hampered by conflicting names, messages and logos prior to its name change (from the former AIMR) in 2004. In addition, its major brand – the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation – was disconnected from the organizational name. It was through a collaborative process with 135 societies in 56 countries that CFA Institute finally solidified its brand and created greater investor awareness of the CFA designation. [Chip Deale, Head – Society Relations, CFA Institute]

 Marketing channel – Key to the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) success in launching their relatively new certification program was the association’s chapters. Local certification champions, with the guidance of national staff, promote the certification, organize study groups and build the buzz. Chapters also provide critical related educational programming. Finding this channel successful, SMPS launched their new webinar series two years ago again through partnerships with chapters. Today this is the most profitable educational programming they offer. [Tina Myers, Vice President of Membership and Chapter Development, Society for Marketing Professional Services]

Retention – Just ask SHRM … they found that the average retention rate was 12-14% higher for those participating in a chapter. SHRM chapters are independent and membership is optional. Come hear more about how SHRM is targeting this at the session Components As Partners in Membership & Marketing at the Marketing & Membership Conference on 5/29/2008 at 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. [Susan Post, Northeast Regional Director for the Society for Human Resource Management]

Share data – Your members are spending time, money and energy at the local level. By sharing data about member behavior and demographics you can sharpen your marketing efforts, target marketing messages, and make more effective planning decisions. For SMPS data sharing has reinforced relationships with local leaders and yielded more robust prospect lists for the national organization as well as better planning for educational programs.

The next generation of leaders – And current leaders too. ASCNet tracked the value of volunteer time much of which occurs at the chapter level, and made an astounding finding that value was $792,433 annually (based on 789 hr/week average x 52 week at $18.77/hour rate using the Independent Sector’s Value of Time).  [Linn Wheeling, Chief Executive Officer, Applied Systems Client Network]

Bonus: What’s the #1 way of closing the door? Ask chapter leaders to do a task without giving them tools and demanding that the task be handled on a tight timeline.