Volunteers are often the lifeline of associations, especially when it comes to the chapter and local levels. They take time out of their busy lives and dedicate it to your mission, to engage others and help your association be successful. There are a few ways your national association can step in and help set them up for success.
Ask them what they need! How are you supposed to provide them with all the proper tools, templates and support if you don’t even know what they’re struggling with or what they’re trying to accomplish? Learn what they need to get the job done. Asking for their opinion and insight is great for building trust and strong communication between the national association and chapters.
- Is everyone on the same page? Survey to better understand what strategic initiatives and objectives chapters are putting their resources towards. If a volunteer is bending over backwards to push advocacy, but membership surveys show that members really want networking, then there is a disconnect. There is even a third variable here, if national is primarily focused on events and networking opposed to advocacy then chapter efforts aren’t aligning with national. This misalignment needs to be addressed (and the proper tools, training and direction needs to be provided).
Need to improve communication between National and Chapters? Try some of these online document sharing tools.
2. Is volunteer time well spent? Volunteers didn’t sign up to manage spreadsheets, be data entry clerks or be technical support for the member portal. They signed up because they believe in the mission and want to learn new skills to leverage in their careers or day-to-day lives. As the national association, you have the ability to provide tools that automate the busy work and make it more of a quick housekeeping item, rather than their primary responsibility as a volunteer.
Did you know?
- 77% of respondents of the Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Survey* cited that national doesn’t provide any type of standard website templates or design standards.
- 37% of respondents cited that each chapter has their own member database
- 35% of respondents stated that chapters are solely responsible for recruitment
*Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Survey. Wild Apricot. http://www.wildapricot.com/articles/multichapter-benchmarking-survey-highlights
How can you provide better support to your chapters?
Leverage some of these free or low-cost tools below to start asking your chapter leaders how you can help them.
Need some sample questions to get you going? We’ve got you covered!