The Big Reveal … 2022 Chapter Benchmarking Report

What do you get when you put Peggy and Peter in from of a Zoom camera? A CRP fest across three afternoons. The 3-part online event, co-hosted by Billhighway and Mariner, was the launchpad for the 2022 Chapter Performance & Benchmarking Report, a data analysis derived from surveys sent to CEOs, CRPs (or association staff overseeing chapter operations), and chapter leaders, along with findings from CEO roundtables and focus groups.

*Perhaps one of the best parts of the report are conversation starters included throughout. Let these guide you in using the report.

Keep reading here for a quick snapshot of the workshop along with links to each day as another source to digging into the report

Day 1: How Associations View Chapters: In this introduction to the report, the big reveal is how common assumptions regarding chapter performance and value raised more questions than answers. The data underscores the concept that it’s time to shift our thinking from trying to solve what’s not working towards building on what is working.

Lessons learned from the data collected:

Most agree Local Presence is needed for networking, education and advocacy yet without the right data, we struggle to quantify the effectiveness, quality and value of that presence. Which leads us to the next lesson learned …

There are Mixed Views and differing perceptions on the influence, purpose and value of chapters. And so …

We need to take a hard look at HQ Support. The data showed little correlation between HQ support and the success/failure of a chapter, i.e., HQ support doesn’t necessarily produce better chapter performance. This should be a red flag for HQs.

And there’s the issue caused by relying on chapter self-reporting: Incomplete or Inaccurate Data. Which means we need to …

Employ Technology, not just to get more data but to help our volunteers focus on our members and our mission instead of being bogged down by administrative stuff.

Final thought: We keep trying to fix/improve the “horse and buggy” (aka traditional chapter) even though an outdated model well executed is still outdated.

Day 2: Using Dashboards to Tell the Chapter Story: Continuing the conversation, we delved into the 3 deserts the data uncovered and a possible response: a future-focused dashboard. The session included a recap of the ASAE Foresightworks, an evidence-based research initiative into drivers of change that will affect associations moving forward,

Our path to success lies in navigating three deserts:

  • Data Desert – We continue to rely on fragmented and disconnected data that often delivers fractured views of how chapter systems deliver value to the member and serves the mission. A dashboard can teach the value of collecting and using the right data, and show the power of the shared data to get us all on the same side.
  • Volunteer Desert – Volunteers are a precious resource and we’re wasting their time with administrative functions vs. serving the member and the mission. A dashboard can help move from an administration checklist to mission/member outcome tracking, and help leaders focus on what matters to members (and themselves!).
  • Strategic Desert – Let’s view our chapters as part of a vibrant ecosystem working collaboratively to serve the member and the mission. This means throwing off the HQ/Chapter shoes and putting on member shoes. A dashboard can show the collective impact of chapters when you connect your strategic goals to your chapter roles. For example, if you have a goal around professional development, ask how do your components help you achieve that goal? Then, ask how will you know that has been achieved and how can you measure that?


Final thought: Using a new way to measure, let’s us move beyond benchmarking to compare chapters and pick winners, to the concept of a race to reach outcomes collectively. Enter, a dashboard that shows the impact of chapters in totality with picture available for each chapter.

Day 3: Creating a Compelling Chapter Story: We asked how can we take the data and tell a story. Stories can create a shared vision of chapter value across your organization and celebrate volunteers. Bonus: the right story helps build the volunteer pool, muscle and membership through member engagement.

When deciding on what stories to tell, Think big picture (ROI impact on all chapters), theme (how chapters contribute to key initiatives) and winning plays (bright spots, specific successes). Be sure you’re telling your stories across the spectrum.

Final thought: A dashboard becomes a way you can have strategic conversations with the chapter leaders and the c-suite.

Question for you: Is the 2022 report surprising? With several decades of managing and consulting with associations on member components, we’re not surprised by the benchmarking study data analysis. We’ve explored many of the questions and suggestions in white papers and blog posts and would love to hear your thoughts!

Learn more and download the report here

*The 2022 Chapter Performance & Benchmarking Report was a collaborative effort between Billhighway and Mariner Management.