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3 Key Challenges Chapters Face

Lori Halley  16 October 2013  0 comments

Do you wonder if your peers at other small chapters are facing similar challenges with their head office?

Over the last month or so, we’ve been sharing the findings of our Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Survey. The survey report and highlights article offer a wealth of benchmarking information for organizations with multiple chapters, branches or affiliates. But we know that the staff and volunteers who work in small chapters want to know how their experience compares to their peers in other of multi-chapter organizations. So last week we shared insight on the Top 5 Challenges that central organizations or HQ face with multiple chapters. This week, we’re completing our survey coverage by offering a look at the top 3 challenges that chapters identified in dealing with their headquarters.

Frank insight into the challenges chapters face with their HQ’s

Our survey asked:

What are the key challenges individual chapters face in dealing with their central organization or HQ?

After reviewing all of the verbatim responses, we’ve summarized these into 3 key categories. Check out some of these candid responses and see it they resonate with you and your multi-chapter experience:

1. Understanding one another’s role and value

  • Knowing why we are valuable to them.
  • Understanding what the chapters responsibilities are.
  • Closer ties and collaborations could be better established.
  • The central org is not very helpful in the running of a chapter.
  • Shared direction - chapters and central sometimes are not aligned.
  • Understanding what their per capita payment goes towards. And what the national organization actually does to benefit the chapter members.
  • That we aren't really chapters; we are separate entities with similar missions.
  • Sometimes the very things central org does cause/add to problems at local level, like oversaturation of email communications to members. Membership is declining on national level, yet central org continues to increase dues which further squeezes already declining revenue of local chapters. And local chapters are the ones that have to deliver on the value proposition because we are the face of the organization.

2. Lack of timely response:

  • Waiting for approval from the board on financial or impression decisions. Getting the funds in a timely manner.
  • Getting information or backing for initiatives.
  • Receiving timely responses to their questions.
  • Timely support, clear documentation of standards, procedures.
  • Getting timely responses.
  • The central organization office is understaffed and is often slow in responding to requests for training materials or informational queries.

3. Difficulty communicating and feeling connected

  • Our remoteness - they rarely get to see us as we cannot afford to have a conference every year and even when we do only a limited number of chapters attend and then with only 1 or 2 people.
  • Enable communication and connections across chapter members.
  • Unresponsive to chapters and individual members.

Common challenges on both sides of the multi-chapter relationship

Some of the comments from chapters actually mirror the feedback we received from the central organizations – indicating that both sides of the multi-chapter relationship are facing similar challenges. But in addition, chapter representatives share their central organization counterparts’ frustration with issues around administrative challenges such as: “coordination, membership information sharing”; “membership tracking”, and duplication of efforts in terms of website and membership database management.

But to balance the equation, our Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Survey also articulated some of the benefits that both chapters and their central organizations agreed made their multi-chapter relationship worthwhile:

  • networking
  • mutual support
  • sharing of ideas as well as resources

Is your multi-chapter organization facing any of these challenges?  Offer your insight in the comments below.

If you want more multi-chapter insight...

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 16 October 2013 at 8:30 AM
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