How Chapter Relations Work in Associations and 7 Tips to Improve the Process?

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How Chapter Relations Work in Associations and 7 Tips to Improve the Process?

Senior Marketing Associate.
4 minutes read
April 07, 2023

Chapter organizations are often formed to better serve the needs of their members at every level. There are multiple types of chapter associations depending on where the membership sits and where the decision-making power lies.

For example, a chapter-based org can have all decisions being done at the national level and trickle down to its constituent chapters. Others have local chapters that have much more autonomy and decision-making power over their branding.

One thing that is consistent regarding the model of the chapter organizations is the importance and difficulty of chapter relations.

When chapters and the larger association work together effectively, they can provide a wealth of benefits to members, including educational opportunities, networking events, and advocacy efforts. However, when chapter relations are strained or non-existent, members may feel isolated and disconnected from the larger organization.

In this blog, we will deep-dive into how chapter relations work in associations and offer seven tips to improve the process.

Quick Reads

How Chapter Relations Work in Associations?

chapter relations

When an association decides to establish chapters, it typically does so to better serve members in specific regions or areas of interest.

Chapters are given some degree of autonomy to create programs and events that are tailored to the needs of their members. However, they may still be required to follow the bylaws and policies set forth by the larger association.

The relationship between the chapter and the larger association is a symbiotic one.

The chapter relies on the resources and support of the larger association to operate effectively, while the larger association benefits from the local knowledge and expertise of the chapter. When the relationship is working well, both parties benefit.

There are typically a few key roles involved in chapter relations:

  • National or international staff: These are the individuals who work for the larger association and are responsible for overseeing the chapters. They provide guidance and support to the chapters, help them navigate the association’s policies and procedures, and ensure that they are following best practices.
  • Chapter leadership: This includes the president, board members, and committee chairs of the chapter. They are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the chapter, managing its finances, and ensuring that its programs and events align with the goals of the larger association.
  • Members: Members are the lifeline of any association, big or small. By prioritizing your members and their relationship with your mission, you are setting up a system of growth and long-term success.

Tips for Improving Chapter Relations

Now that we have a better understanding of how chapter relations work in associations, let’s dive into some tips for improving the process.

Tip # 1: Make Sure You Optimize your Communication

Clear communication is essential for any successful relationship, and chapter relations are no exception. Both the larger association and the chapter should establish clear lines of communication early on in the process.

This includes regular check-ins, reports, and meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Tip # 2: Define Roles and Responsibilities

It’s important to establish clear roles and responsibilities for all parties involved in chapter relations. This includes outlining the responsibilities of the national staff, chapter leadership, and members.

When everyone knows what is expected of them, it’s easier to hold each other accountable and work towards a common goal.

Tip # 3: Provide Training and Resources


Chapters may not have the same level of resources or expertise as the larger association.

Providing training and resources to chapter leaders can help them run their chapters more effectively and ensure that they are in compliance with the association’s policies and procedures.

Tip # 4: Encourage Collaboration

Collaboration between chapters and the larger association can lead to innovative programs and events that benefit all members. Encourage chapter leaders to work together and share ideas, and provide opportunities for them to collaborate with national staff.

Tip # 5: Celebrate Successes

When a chapter achieves a milestone or runs a successful program, it’s important to celebrate its successes. Recognizing the achievements of individual chapters can help build morale and inspire others.

Tip # 6: Listen to Feedback

Listen to the feedback of chapter leaders and members. Take their concerns and suggestions seriously and use them to improve the overall relationship between chapters and the main organization.

Tip # 7: Digitize Communication

chapter management software

Digital platforms like chapter management software facilitate collaboration between chapters as well as the parent organization. This can help to foster a sense of community and teamwork among members, which can lead to better relationships.

Additionally, it can automate many of the administrative tasks associated with membership workflows, events, and fundraising. It frees up time and resources, allowing chapters to focus on building relationships with members and with the main organization.

All in all, having a clear understanding of your type of chapter organization, the key players, and the value that you hope to provide your members is key to not only managing relations among chapters but increasing renewal rates and the overall success of the association.

If you are interested in knowing more about how you can improve your chapter relations, feel free to contact us here.

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