When does the chapter structure stop working?

Two chapters that I belong to are having their board installations this month. But here’s the kicker – one will do so without an incoming president or treasurer while the other is minus one position plus struggling to get members to attend meetings.

We already know the benefits of association volunteerism; just go back to any of our volunteer stories to see what association involvement can do for a person’s professional and personal life. So why then are these chapters having so much trouble staying afloat? The first chapter does have a number of smaller groups that meet regularly outside the monthly chapter meetings, yet the chapter can’t fill its board positions. The second chapter has most positions filled (albeit at least one has served continuously since the chapter was first chartered), but the attendance at monthly events is low.

Maybe the answer lies in the chapter structure itself. Both chapters are small and affliated with larger associations. I wonder if the idea of a full board for each chapter is more of a burden than a necessity. After all, with a small membership base comes a limited volunteer pool. So how many times will each volunteer need to serve in order to keep the chapters going? Also, how does the advent of more and more virtual meeting capabilities and social media interaction affect the chapters’ monthly programming attendance? And more importantly, does low attendance affect the volunteer drive, thus board participation? Finally, are these chapters spending too much energy on the chapter structure and not enough on member engagement?

Do these chapters and their affliate associations need to change? Seems to me, the answer is yes.

In her February 18th post, Peggy briefly discusses American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE)’s venture into creating a new membership model. AADE replaced its traditional chapter program with a state-based program featuring a state Coordinating Body (CB) with Local Networking Groups (LNG). And it’s working. Membership is up; the volunteers are stoked.

Perhaps these chapters and their affiliate associations could learn a bit from AADE.

What do you think?