Measuring ROI for Association Chapters

By / Aug 1, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Few organizations measure their association chapter ROI. Here’s why they probably should.

The 2016 Chapter Benchmarking Study [PDF] by Mariner Management & Marketing found that only 5 percent of organizations actually measure their chapter ROI, which means some may be contributing too little or too much to their chapters. For a parent organization, chapters drive overall success by delivering member value at the local level. By measuring chapter ROI, an organization can justify chapter-related spending and resource provision and improve chapters’ performance.

Discover member value. To measure ROI, associations must first pinpoint the value members want to receive from chapters. Kyle Bazzy, director of growth at Billhighway, explains this can be done either by surveying chapter members or identifying the services provided by chapters with high recruitment and retention rates. “When we talk about chapters supporting national, it’s really getting down and digging into what your members want,” he says.

Make a financial assessment. Some chapter activities have straightforward monetary value, like staff compensation or event costs and revenue. But others—such as campaigns, professional development programs, or membership drives—have an indirect return. Mariner Management is developing a Chapter ROI Valuation Matrix for associations to assign dollar values to chapter services by calculating the revenue they bring in and the cost the parent organization would have incurred had staff or vendors done the work performed by chapter volunteers.

Determine metrics. Associations should set metrics beyond growth and retention to measure chapter performance. Bazzy suggests measuring key performance indicators that can be acted on, such as local-level member engagement like meeting attendance and online course registration, though they will differ by organization.

Invest accordingly. Using collected data, associations can “[turn] these chapters into an asset,” Bazzy says. By understanding the member value, the related monetary return, and chapters’ performance, associations can invest the right amount of money in the right places, as well as adjust their own efforts targeted at the chapter network.

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