As associations grow and evolve, there comes a time when expansion becomes a pressing consideration. But how do you know when the moment is ripe to start a new chapter?
As members look for more value, benefits, and engagement opportunities with their organizations, assessing when the time is right can be tricky.
To help guide you through this decision-making process, here are seven key signs that suggest it’s time to consider starting your new association chapter. We’ve also got some helpful tips and case studies to help you navigate your expansion journey.
Let's dive in!
- Sign 1: Growing Membership Demand
- Sign # 2: Geographic Spread
- Sign # 3: Untapped Opportunities
- Sign # 4: Overwhelming Events or Activities
- Sign # 5: Lack of Accessibility
- Sign # 6. Changes in Industry Landscape
- Sign # 7. Member Expertise and Leadership
- Associations Leading the Way - Success Stories from Leading Organizations
Sign 1: Growing Membership Demand
If you notice a significant increase in membership inquiries or requests from individuals in a specific geographic area, it could be a clear sign that there is a demand for a new chapter. A growing number of interested individuals who are unable to participate in the existing chapter can be an excellent indicator that it's time to expand.
Starting a new chapter can meet the needs of these potential members and provide them with a local community to engage with.
Helpful Tip 💡
Pay close attention to membership trends and feedback. If you see a consistent rise in membership requests from a specific region, it's a clear indication that starting a new chapter can help meet the demand and provide a local community for members.
Sign # 2: Geographic Spread
As associations expand, their membership often fans out across different regions.
If you find that your members are scattered far and wide, it's a flashing sign that starting a new chapter could be the key to better serving and engaging them locally.
By taking a localized approach with the new chapter, you will be able to launch targeted programs, promote networking, and cultivate a profound sense of belonging among the members.
Helpful Tip 💡
Identify the geographical distribution of your members. If you find clusters in specific regions, it may be time to start a new chapter to better serve and engage them.
Sign # 3: Untapped Opportunities
Are there unique opportunities or resources in a particular region that could benefit your association and its members?
Identifying unexplored markets, potential partnerships, or specific industry clusters that harmonize with your association's goals is a potent cue to expand your horizons. Establish a presence in these untapped territories to extend your reach and provide invaluable support to members in those areas.
Helpful Tip 💡
Explore untapped markets or burgeoning industries in specific regions where your members can gain value from your organization. Establish strategic partnerships, and find sponsors and volunteers to raise your association's profile in the new market.
Sign # 4: Overwhelming Events or Activities
If your association is consistently organizing events, activities, or programs that attract a large number of participants from a particular region, it could be an indication that there is enough interest and engagement to support a separate chapter.
This can help distribute the workload and ensure that activities are more localized and relevant to members in that area. Thus, your association can delegate responsibilities, engage local leaders, and provide a more focused experience for members in that region by starting a new chapter there.
Read more: Effective Leadership Strategies for Multi-Chapter Associations
Helpful Tip 💡
Gain valuable insights into the geographical distribution of your members by analyzing your events list. Customize your events and activities to cater to the unique interests of members in that area to discover new opportunities in that untapped market.
Sign # 5: Lack of Accessibility
Accessibility can refer to geographic accessibility, cultural accessibility, or even language accessibility.
If you have members who face challenges attending events or engaging with the association due to distance, cultural differences, or language barriers, starting a new chapter in their vicinity can help bridge those gaps and provide a more inclusive experience for all members.
As you start new chapters in areas that are more accessible to certain members, everyone will have the opportunity to participate and benefit from the association's activities.
Helpful Tip 💡
Look for the areas where members face barriers to participation. This can create a more inclusive environment, ensuring that all members have equal opportunities to engage with the association.
Sign # 6. Changes in Industry Landscape
A changing industry landscape can also signal the need for an association chapter.
If there have been significant shifts, such as the emergence of new technologies, the entry of disruptive players, or regulatory changes, it may be beneficial to establish a chapter that focuses on addressing these specific challenges and opportunities.
This specialized chapter can serve as a platform for members to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and adapt to the evolving industry landscape.
Helpful Tip 💡
Closely monitor industry trends and developments. Start a new chapter if you see significant changes in the industry landscape to promote knowledge exchange, share best practices, and help members navigate the changing landscape.
Sign # 7. Member Expertise and Leadership
If you have members who possess unique expertise, experience, or leadership skills in a particular region, starting a new chapter can help leverage their strengths. These individuals can become chapter leaders, driving initiatives, and fostering a vibrant community.
By tapping into the local expertise and leadership potential, your association can establish a strong presence and provide valuable resources and guidance to members in that area.
Helpful Tip 💡
Identify members with exceptional expertise and leadership potential. By starting a new chapter and appointing these individuals as chapter leaders, you can harness their passion to drive meaningful initiatives.
Associations Leading the Way - Success Stories from Leading Organizations
To truly grasp the significance of these signs and the subsequent expansion journey, let's explore some real-life examples from associations that have successfully embraced growth and emerged stronger than ever.
Take, for instance, the American Statistical Association (ASA). With a consistent increase in membership and increasing demand for its statistical services, the ASA recognized the need to expand its reach.
They strategically targeted new geographical locations with increased demand across the USA and Canada and set up regional chapters to meet the needs of local members. This expansion not only boosted their influence in the industry but also allowed them to offer specialized resources and networking opportunities to a wider membership base.
Another noteworthy case study is the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP). Recognizing the opportunity for growth, they decided to scale up their operations to provide support, education, and opportunities at local levels.
This expansion not only enabled them to serve a larger community of tax professionals but also positioned them as a leading authority in the field.
These examples illustrate how associations that pay attention to expansion signals and embrace the challenges with a strategic mindset can unlock new avenues of success and propel their organizations to greater heights.
Starting a new association chapter requires careful planning, resources, and commitment. Assess the potential benefits, evaluate the feasibility, and ensure sufficient support from members and stakeholders before moving forward.
It's also crucial to establish clear guidelines for branding and data to ensure consistency among your chapters. Luckily, cloud-based platforms like Glue Up can make this process easier and more efficient, saving you time while driving impactful results.
With Glue Up's multi-chapter management software, you can keep tabs on the health of every chapter, connect all members to the mission, and streamline communication and organization. To learn more, click here and get a free demo.