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11 Ways to Help Chapters Avoid (Or handle) a Crisis

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11 Ways to Help Chapters Avoid (Or handle) a Crisis

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Sit back and enjoy this webinar where we decode crises we see (and feel) in chapters. We cover all kinds of troublesome scenarios, from chapter financial mismanagement, fraud, and cybersecurity attacks to AWOL or unprepared chapter officers and everything in between.

Your association’s approach to chapter crisis management and prevention depends entirely on your relationship with your components – in terms of both structure (subsidiary or independent) and your connection. While this webinar assumes chapters are subsidiaries, a situation that brings more risk to National and supposedly provides more control. Even if your components are independent, you (and your chapters) will benefit from this advice. Join us for some tips and best practices to help handle (or hopefully avoid) your next chapter crisis!

Sit back and enjoy this webinar where we decode crises we see (and feel) in chapters. We cover all kinds of troublesome scenarios, from chapter financial mismanagement, fraud, and cybersecurity attacks to AWOL or unprepared chapter officers and everything in between.

Your association’s approach to chapter crisis management and prevention depends entirely on your relationship with your components – in terms of both structure (subsidiary or independent) and your connection. While this webinar assumes chapters are subsidiaries, a situation that brings more risk to National and supposedly provides more control. Even if your components are independent, you (and your chapters) will benefit from this advice. Join us for some tips and best practices to help handle (or hopefully avoid) your next chapter crisis!

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11 Ways to Help Chapters Avoid (Or handle) a Crisis

  1. 1. 11 Ways to Help Chapters Avoid (Or handle) a Crisis
  2. 2. What tech tools will help lessen the administrative burden on my chapter leaders? How do I build more resilient components and volunteers? Ask the Hosts…
  3. 3. POLL QUESTIONS
  4. 4. Financial mismanagement 11 Common Crises Financial fraud Compliance issues Cybersecurity Data privacy Website disasters Struggling chapter leaders Leadership succession challenges Outsourcing & hiring issues Legal risks & liabilities Natural disaster
  5. 5. Looking at common tools Poll Question
  6. 6. To build a trusting relationship, regularly communicate and provide helpful resources: #1 Continually work on your relationship with chapter leaders. Schedule regular check-in calls or web meetings. Send out chapter leader newsletters with helpful information. Have an ‘open door’ policy to make it easy for leaders to contact you.
  7. 7. Help chapter leaders save time, avoid errors, provide a better member and user experience, and stay in alignment with HQ. #2 Support chapters with time-saving technology. Provide limited access to your AMS or CRM software. Provide website templates, email marketing software, and chapter banking technology.
  8. 8. Education is the best prevention. #3 Provide online training for chapters. Break trainings down into small bits, easier to digest! Create short videos; use your LMS or YouTube channel Mix up your training content (short articles, tip sheets, webinars, virtual roundtables, online courses) Use your LMS to track member participation.
  9. 9. Help leaders get to know, support, and learn from each other. #4 Host peer education & networking sessions. An online community to ask questions, provide advice, and share resources; just be sure to have ambassadors on hand. Host chapter leader meet-ups
  10. 10. How do you like to learn? Poll Question
  11. 11. Encourage (or require) chapters adopt policies and procedures you develop. #5 Create chapter policies and procedures. Never assume chapter leaders know the right things to do! Provide policies and procedures on: • Cybersecurity • Financial controls • Data privacy • Conflict of interest
  12. 12. Sometimes chapters need more assistance than a policy, video, or checklist can provide. #6 Offer chapter consulting services. Assess or audit a chapter function; work with them to develop a plan. Offer website audits to show chapters how to improve user experience & HQ branding. Offer 1:1 coaching with an independent coach or SME.
  13. 13. Let’s shift from watchdog to coach as a better approach to gaining compliance. #7 Use a chapter self assessment. Invite chapters to evaluate how well they meet ‘best practice’ criteria. Embed instructional evaluation Expand with a data-sharing analysis project.
  14. 14. Identify the chapter activities you want to encourage and provide a budget match for them. #8 Provide a budget match to chapters. With a dollar match, the chapter has some skin in the game! A match demonstrates HQ’s commitment to their success.
  15. 15. Provide a handy reference for chapter leaders in areas of higher risk or association priorities. #9 Distribute how-to resources. Target areas where chapters have highest risk. Highlight examples from chapters. Highlight resources available, connection to minimum or legal requirements. Engage leaders in developing.
  16. 16. A list of vetted professional service providers ensures that chapters know where to turn when they need help and minimizes the likelihood of conflicts of interest. #10 Identify local/regional professional services. Identify a nonprofit attorney to help chapters with legal issues. Provide a list of vetted association management companies (AMCs) or consultants for: • Meeting planning • Administration • HR • Marketing/PR • Advocacy • Website development/design
  17. 17. This is the root of the problem. #11 Address the volunteer drain. Help chapters embrace micro, ad hoc & episodic volunteering Reduce the requirements for boards/committees giving chapters flexibility Be a volunteer recruiter Develop a reward program for chapter volunteers Spotlight chapter volunteers Alleviate burden of being a chapter members Replace checklists with impact measures
  18. 18. Communication Get beyond emails, embed education in all you do like consulting services that educate. Education Think at the moment-of-need & go beyond standard “how to your role” checklist. Support Lay groundwork for a trusting relationship through on- demand support strategy. 3 Recurring Themes
  19. 19. Let’s design learning for you! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CEXpoll Hosted by
  20. 20. Billhighway Mariner Management • Current financial reporting • Chapter member engagement data • Number of events they’re hosting • Types of events they’re hosting • Percentage of members and non- members attending • Discovering your chapter ROI • Innovating your chapter structure • Rethinking your volunteer strategy • Training & developing chapters leaders • In-depth & quick bites Tap us for… With Billhighway, you can see chapter performance data in real time—no more nagging chapters for: Want more? Contact us for a 15 minute chat. Your chapters need help? You need help with your chapters? Want more? Contact us for a 15 minute chat.
  21. 21. Thank You!

Editor's Notes

  • Sit back and enjoy this new series of posts about chapters in crisis. We’ll cover all kinds of troublesome scenarios from chapter financial mismanagement and fraud to AWOL chapter officers and everything in between. We want to help you manage stressful chapter challenges and give you strategies to prevent them.

    In this series, we assume chapters are subsidiaries, a situation that brings more risk to National, but also supposedly provides more control. Even if your components are independent, you (and your chapters) will benefit from this advice.

    We’re sharing 11 strategies for preventing chapter crises. To refresh your memory, here are the eleven crises we’ve covered in this series:

    Financial mismanagement
    Financial fraud
    Compliance issues
    Cybersecurity
    Data privacy
    Website disasters
    Struggling chapter leaders
    Leadership succession challenges
    Outsourcing and hiring issues
    Legal risks and liabilities
    Natural disaster
     
  • Let's Meet the Team – This webinar is brought to you by the fab partnership of illhighway & Mariner Management! In fact this topic comes out of our work. You may think you are buying a tech solution from BH or a chapter solution from MM but you are also bringing in change management.  We’ve discovered something about that – we’ll call Chapter’s Change Readiness Quotient that drives today’s conversation.

    @Billhighway – Chapter Management Solution. We increase ROI across your entire organization by providing technology tools to help chapters perform better; as well as delivering member engagement and component performance data to headquarters.

    @Peggy – Mariner - Let’s create the greatest possible value for your members and volunteers!

    Our Shared Purpose​
    To build community the component relations community and connect CRPs. 
  • What’s your relationship with chapters? 
    Separately Incorporated Chartered
    Separately Incorporated Affiliates
    Wholly-owned Subsidiaries
    Other (explain in chat) 

    How much authority do you have over chapters? 
    Substantial
    Limited
    Little
    Let’s just say none

    What’s the prevalent crisis? 
    Financial mismanagement/fraud
    Compliance issues
    Cybersecurity
    Data privacy
    Website disasters
    Struggling chapter leaders
    Leadership succession challenges
    Outsourcing and hiring issues
    Legal risks and liabilities
    Natural disaster

  • 11 common crisis
        Financial mismanagement – training, provide p&p, provide financial services
        Financial fraud – training, financial control checklist, you provide systems or services; get your CPA involved
        Compliance issues – training, putting links on your website, reminders, have a portal for uploading all documents
        Cybersecurity – training, develop clear policies and protocols, regular reminders
        Data privacy - disclaimer or opt-in on the registration form about sharing information with event sponsors and/or exhibitors, data privacy policy & protocols; control the data
        Website disasters – training, host or provide website, website audit as a service
        Struggling chapter leaders – training & be a partner in volunteer recruitment
        Leadership succession challenges – simplify and alleviate admin burdens, create r&r for being a chapter volunteers
        Outsourcing and hiring issues – train, templates, hep vet
        Legal risks and liabilities – training, checklists, insurance
        Natural disaster – have fund (NAIOP), Provide templates for a business continuity/disaster recovery

  • Do you have: 
    Chapter Conflict of Interest Policy/procedures
    Chapter Non-compliance Policy/procedures
    Affiliation Agreement – reviewed annually
    Affiliation Agreement – standing
    Chapter IP/Branding policy
    Policy/procedures for closing/sanctioning
  • 11 common crisis
        Financial mismanagement – training, provide p&p, provide financial services
        Financial fraud – training, financial control checklist, you provide systems or services; get your CPA involved
        Compliance issues – training, putting links on your website, reminders, have a portal for uploading all documents
        Cybersecurity – training, develop clear policies and protocols, regular reminders
        Data privacy - disclaimer or opt-in on the registration form about sharing information with event sponsors and/or exhibitors, data privacy policy & protocols; control the data
        Website disasters – training, host or provide website, website audit as a service
        Struggling chapter leaders – training & be a partner in volunteer recruitment
        Leadership succession challenges – simplify and alleviate admin burdens, create r&r for being a chapter volunteers
        Outsourcing and hiring issues – train, templates, hep vet
        Legal risks and liabilities – training, checklists, insurance
        Natural disaster – have fund (NAIOP), Provide templates for a business continuity/disaster recovery

  • In our post on chapter financial mismanagement, we pointed out a frustrating trait of chapter staff and volunteer leaders: they won’t ask for help unless they’re completely comfortable admitting their ignorance or pointing out something that doesn’t look or feel right. Chapter leaders must sense in their bones that you’re on their side and always pulling for their success. They’ll only do this if they trust you.

    To build a trusting relationship with members that shuffle in and out of leadership positions, you need to regularly communicate with them and provide helpful resources to them from the moment they start climbing the leadership ladder.

    Exercise your empathy muscle by putting yourself in their shoes. They’re busy volunteers, not association experts, who have a different focus than you because they’re thinking of their chapter first. Listen carefully to their insight, ideas, and concerns.
    Schedule regular (at least monthly) check-in calls or web meetings with chapter officers.
    Send out chapter leader newsletters that provide helpful information and keep them in the loop so they know what’s going on at HQ and can answer member questions. You don’t want any chance of a rumor mill starting.
    Have an ‘open door’ (inbox, message, or phone call) policy. Make it easy for leaders to contact you. Be responsive when they do.
  • Automating repetitive tasks, eliminating or minimizing reporting = more time on programming and member services > NIGP, WOCN, AADE,

    Left to their own devices, chapters will tackle administrative and operational challenges each in their own way—and not always the best way. By providing technology outright or subsidizing their technology investment, you can help chapter leaders save time, avoid errors, provide a better member and user experience, and stay in alignment with HQ standards.

    Many associations provide chapter leaders limited access to their association management system (AMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) software. We’ve also seen associations provide website templates, email marketing software, and chapter banking technology.

    In our post on financial fraud, we described how associations use chapter banking software to ensure chapters follow sound financial management practices. This technology automates repetitive tasks and eliminates the chapter’s financial and data reporting burden, giving them more time to focus on programming and member engagement.
  • education is the best prevention. Leaders make mistakes that turn into crises because often they don’t know any better. They’re running a small membership organization without the benefit of years of experience and training.

    Mix up your delivery of training content. Besides videos, use short articles (or blog posts), tip sheets, webinars, virtual roundtables, webinar and conference session recordings, and online courses made up 10-minute lessons.

    If you use your LMS for online leadership training, you can track member participation. If you don’t have an LMS, post training content on a web page devoted to chapter leader resources.


    Even if chapter leaders attend your annual leadership summit, all the information you provide there might be quickly forgotten unless you reinforce it over time. But remember, this training must fit into a chapter leader’s busy life. If you break the information down into small bites (microlearning), it is easier for a leader to read or watch when they have a few minutes—and easier to digest and recall.

    For example, create a series of short videos on federal and state compliance issues. Translate the basics of tax-exempt status or remind them when and how to file taxes. These videos don’t have to be fancy. Record them on your phone and group them with other compliance training resources in your learning management system (LMS) or on your chapter leader web page. Take a look at the short video Charlotte and Peggy recorded on Zoom and emailed to CEX first-timers. Simple and effective!

    Mix up your delivery of training content. Besides videos, use short articles (or blog posts), tip sheets, webinars, virtual roundtables, webinar and conference session recordings, and online courses made up 10-minute lessons.

    If you use your LMS for online leadership training, you can track member participation. If you don’t have an LMS, post training content on a web page devoted to chapter leader resources.
  • By facilitating a network for chapter leaders, you provide the opportunity for them to get to know, support, and learn from each other—an invaluable resource, especially since chapter leaders are often more receptive to advice coming from their peers than from HQ.

    Dedicate a private group in your online community to chapter leaders where they can ask questions, provide advice, and share resources and success stories.
    Host monthly chapter leader web meetings to discuss common or timely issues. As mentioned in our post on struggling chapter leaders, you can use these meetings to discuss prickly leadership problems in a general way without having to call a particular leader out for their behavior. Post recordings of these meetings on your chapter leader web page along with a description of topics covered so leaders can easily find them.

    Use these meetings as a training tool. For example, if the monthly topic is microvolunteering, ask chapter leaders to share examples of the microvolunteering opportunities they’re offering. Then, you can discuss how microvolunteering can help alleviate a leader’s workload (the cause of many crises) and grow the chapter’s volunteer and leadership pipeline.
  • You can never assume chapter leaders know the right thing to do. They may operate in an entirely different workplace culture than you and not be aware of association best practices. You can help them stay on the right path by encouraging (or requiring, if they’re subsidiaries) them to adopt policies and procedures developed by your association.

    By following cybersecurity policies and procedures, for example, a clear procedure for payment and money transfer requests, chapter leaders are less likely to fall for social engineering scams.

    Chapters also benefit from having a:
    Financial controls checklist
    Data privacy policy
    Conflict of interest policy
  • Get beyond the service of strategic planning … dive deeper into specific areas that will make a difference.

    Sometimes chapters need more assistance than a policy, video, or checklist can provide. You can provide a valuable service by assessing or auditing a chapter function and working with them to develop a plan that gets them on the right track. Bonus you build a trusting relationship with these busy and dedicated volunteers. Once you’ve established that trust, chapters are more likely to turn to you for the type of guidance that prevents a chapter crisis.


    In our post on data privacy, we described how a data governance plan helps chapters follow best practices for data management, stay in compliance with new data privacy regulations, and minimize the risk of data privacy complaints. Your consulting service can help chapters get their hands around the data they’re collecting and improve how they’re using and securing that data.

    You could also offer website audits as a chapter consulting service. Every few years, show chapters how to improve their website’s user experience and align it with HQ branding.

    By providing the support and resources that chapter leaders need to manage their chapter and provide a valuable membership experience, you build a trusting relationship with these busy and dedicated volunteers. Once you’ve established that trust, chapters are more likely to turn to you for the type of guidance that prevents a chapter crisis.
  • We explored this in detail in the in-person workshops. The goal is to get compliance and build sustainability in the chapter. How this works: With a self-assessment, chapters evaluate how well (on a scale) they meet ‘best practice’ criteria.

    You can also use a checklist or self-assessment for a more in-depth and instructional evaluation of specific chapter functions. For example, a website checklist assesses a chapter on how well their site meets information requirements, provides functionality needed for an optimal user experience, and complies with procedures for domain renewal and other important deadlines.


    Associations usually approach compliance with the chapter affiliation agreement in one of two ways. Traditionally, chapters complete and submit an annual checklist. But another option is becoming popular: a chapter self-assessment.

    With a self-assessment, chapters evaluate how well (on a scale) they meet ‘best practice’ criteria. The assessment can also include open questions about their biggest successes and challenges, and ask chapters to assess your association’s support in different areas.

    You can also use a checklist or self-assessment for a more in-depth and instructional evaluation of specific chapter functions. For example, a website checklist assesses a chapter on how well their site meets information requirements, provides functionality needed for an optimal user experience, and complies with procedures for domain renewal and other important deadlines.
  • Identify the chapter activities you want to encourage and provide a budget match for them. For example, you could match the dollars a chapter invests in leadership development, thus ensuring a healthy leadership succession plan. CPAs, PMI,

    A match could be used for other initiatives, such as technology investment. With a dollar match, the chapter has some skin in the game. A match also demonstrates HQ’s acknowledgement of the chapter’s limited resources and its commitment to the chapter’s success.
  • Toolkits and quick-start guides provide a handy reference for chapter leaders who are taking on a new project or figuring out a new task. For example, chapter leaders and staff most likely need help with understanding best practices for outsourcing, contracting services, and hiring employees. The toolkit can include:
    Checklists for hiring vendors for website, IT, meeting planning, and/or marketing/PR services
    Vendor due diligence questions and red flags
    Questions for vendor reference checks
    You may also want to develop toolkits for preparing a budget, building a website, making site visits, and negotiating contracts.

    Templates developed by your association give chapters a head start, so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They can take one of your templates, for example, a template for a business continuity/disaster recovery plan, and customize it to their chapter’s needs.

    Other examples of useful templates for chapters include membership marketing copy for their website, new member onboarding emails, data privacy policy, and speaker contracts.

    Continuity/disaster recovery plan

    Membership marketing content

    New member onboarding emails

    Data privacy policy

    Speaker contracts

  • A list of vetted professional service providers ensures that chapters know where to turn when they need help. The list also minimizes the likelihood of conflicts of interest.

    For example, to help chapters deal with legal issues, identify a nonprofit attorney with association experience for each state and share this list with your chapters.

    You could also provide a list of vetted association management companies (AMCs) or consultants with association experience for meeting planning, administration, HR, marketing, PR, advocacy, and website development/design.
  • Looking back on these 11 strategies, a few recurring themes are evident: communication, support, and education. If you stay in touch with chapter leaders, learn about their needs, and provide resources that help them do their ‘job,’ you will lay the groundwork for establishing a trusting relationship.

    Chapter leaders will become more receptive to your advice and more willing to ask for help before a potential problem turns into a full-blown crisis.
  • Any questions? Thank you!

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CEXpoll
  • Billhighway
    Software like Billhighway allows for a healthy balance of association visibility and chapter autonomy. You can see chapter performance data in real time—no nagging required. For example, with Billhighway, you can see the:
    Full financial picture of chapters
    Insight into member data
    Number of events chapters are hosting
    Types of events they’re hosting
    Percentage of members attending
    Percentage of non-members attending

    Mariner
    We are all about optimizing your local presence, whether it’s the traditional chapter or something else. We help you empower volunteers, improve the member experience, answer tough questions about components.
  • Any questions? Thank you!

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