Toronto, Ontario, Canada (PRWEB) October 11, 2013
Although there are millions of multi-chapter organizations operating in the United States, there is relatively little research into this segment. How do chapters and affiliates deal with their central organization or head office? What are the challenges in the multi-chapter process?
Membership software company Wild Apricot recently conducted a Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Survey to look at these issues. The survey was designed to help identify and share some of the key benefits, needs, and challenges that are unique to organizations with multiple chapters, branches, or affiliates. The information gathered through the survey is intended to help establish benchmarks, and highlight some best practices in multi-chapter management, including membership management, communications, and website practices.
The survey found that the key benefits to being a part of a multi-chapter organization include networking, mutual support, and sharing of ideas and resources. As for member benefits, both chapter and central organization respondents agreed that the top 4 member benefits they provide include education or professional development, networking events, information or publications, and conferences or trade shows.
“We found that some of the most interesting insights came from answers to open-ended questions about benefits and challenges in the multi-chapter environment,” noted Jay Moonah, VP of Marketing for Wild Apricot. “Some of the recurring themes included challenges in understanding responsibilities, hurdles in syncing infrastructure, or maintaining membership databases and directories. Most challenges relate to getting everyone in the organization on the same page.”
The challenges identified by survey respondents seemed to often stem from insufficient communication. Chapter respondents noted they look to their head offices for direction, resources, and infrastructure, while central organizations pointed out that they face hurdles with getting people to actually use the resources they provide. The relationship between chapters and central organizations can prove mutually beneficial, with chapters utilizing the brand recognition and reach available from their central organization, and central organizations identifying that having a local presence through a chapter, branch, or affiliate is instrumental for growth.
Another key insight from the survey is that no two organizations are alike. Answers on topics of membership database management and fee collection found that there are no standards or common practices across organizations in terms of maintenance of membership databases, or collection methods for fees and dues. When it comes to funding models, close to two-thirds of respondents (61.8%) reported that individual chapters are responsible for raising and managing their own finances.
Wild Apricot has compiled the results of the survey into a Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Report that can be downloaded in PDF format. Also available are a series of infographics on membership benefits and communications.
Wild Apricot is a leader in membership management - according to Capterra’s software directory, they’re the #1 rated membership management software on the market. Designed to help small membership organizations manage their membership database, events, website, communications, and online payments, Wild Apricot can be a useful tool for multi-chapter organizations, and offers volume pricing discounts on request.
More information about the Multi-Chapter Benchmarking Survey can be found in Wild Apricot’s Membership Knowledge Hub, which houses a variety of resources providing best practices for small membership organizations in the areas of membership management, volunteer management, technology, marketing and communication, event management, and more.