Three Ways to Invest In and Grow Your Chapters

Looking to build your chapters but unsure about what areas to tackle? Investing in resources, giving members opportunities to grow their skills, and having streamlined communications are good starting points, according to one volunteer relations expert.

During the height of the pandemic, Patricia Stefanczyk, CAE, vice president of governance and volunteer relations at the Institute of Management Accountants, approached her senior leadership team with a request on behalf of IMA’s chapter leaders. 

“Like all associations, our chapters couldn’t meet in person, which was a big issue,” she said.  

But Stefanczyk had an idea: She wanted to give chapter leaders the ability to use IMA national’s virtual meetings platform to host their own gatherings. Results were fantastic, with many chapter events growing from 60 in-person attendees to 300 or 400 virtual ones during the pandemic.  

“The tool was effective, efficient, and professional,” Stefanczyk said. “It was also integrated with our AMS, so when an IMA member completed a webinar, their credit for their continuing professional education would automatically go to their account.” 

For Stefanczyk and IMA, offering this tool to their chapters led to growth and higher retention numbers. Here’s a look at some other ways associations can invest in their components. 

Resources Required 

To start, review the existing chapter resources you have in place, such as websites, webinars, or training documents. How do members use these tools for their work, and are they effective? IMA’s review led to a revamp of its chapter portal and microsites with a renewed focus on user experience. 

“Through this integration, chapters can post their own materials on the microsites, but information also gets pulled in from the IMA website. This means that members can always find up-to-date offerings and news from IMA on these sites,” Stefanczyk said. “The revamped chapter portal is easier for volunteer leaders to use and requires less manual work. Officers can use the portal to do their reporting, run their compliance, and find resources. It’s like a one-stop shop.”  

Ecosystem of Support 

Like many associations, IMA uses a digital badge program to recognize members who take on additional responsibilities or leadership positions within their chapters.  

“Badging programs are really about getting members to understand the value of volunteering and how these opportunities for networking and leadership skills help them build their own personal brand and resume,” she said. 

According to Stefanczyk, these efforts also give your association a strong pipeline of chapter leaders. “It’s like an ecosystem,” she said. 

Balancing Act 

Consistent support is crucial, but balanced communication is necessary to keep members from feeling inundated with emails. 

IMA targets its chapter and council leaders with one email each week. These “Friday Roundups” contain all the updates and information these leaders need to know to get up to speed on the latest news and events.  

Overall, Stefanczyk recommends prioritizing chapters and paying attention to their needs. “Don’t ignore your chapters,” she said. “Do pay close attention to them, do give them the resources they need. They are worth the budget.” 


Hannah Carvalho

By Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho is Senior Editor at Associations Now. MORE

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