Making Chapter Changes that Keep Members Engaged and Active

Updated: Sep. 22, 2020  |  Categories: Membership, Low Engagement  

Making Chapter Changes that Keep Members Engaged and Active

Increasingly, chapters are being tasked with adjusting their benefits, programs, and services, in response to everything from the current COVID-19 pandemic to changes made by their national organization and requests from their members. If you find yourself in this place, but also find that you’re not ready or not willing to make the necessary changes, you’re at risk of losing so much, including members and ultimately, revenue.

Pivoting to address changes in a timely manner doesn’t have to be a difficult or impossible undertaking, if you have a clear understanding of why the change needs to happen and what exactly needs to change, and you have a process for making the change happen.

Several of our chapters have shared some of their pivot challenges with us, as well as how they addressed them. Based on what we heard, here are some ideas for navigating pivots that could save your membership and engagement and as a result, your revenue stream.   

Use your Data

But before you start making changes willy-nilly, it’s critical to fully understand why you need to change and be sure you’re making the right changes for the right reasons. You can’t do the same thing you’ve always done or continue to operate as you always have and expect to continue to be successful. Often, just a small tweak is necessary, but other times, a complete overhaul may be necessary. Ask members and even prospects if it makes sense what is important to them right now and see what you need to do to deliver it, for the direction you need to set a new course.

Example #1:  Adjusting your training program

Let’s say that you can no longer offer in person professional development and training for continuing education credits, or that attendance overall has declined because the course availability or course content doesn’t meet the needs of your members. Rather than striking those events from your lineup, take this as opportunity to better support your members and prospects by:

  • Move your training online, through self-paced programs and recorded webinars. Members can access the programs on their schedules and regardless of their locations.
  • Expand your suite of training offerings by providing education kits for purchase that include prep materials, study tools, workbooks, and online learning help.


Example #2: Shifting the time of your monthly meeting

You’ve seen attendance at your monthly lunch meetings drop significantly. Perhaps you service a large geographic area and getting people to lunch meetings is becoming difficult. Your feedback shows that these meetings, though attendees find the content, networking, etc., highly useful and relevant, take too much away from the middle of their day. Moving to an evening event or a virtual meeting at the current time, or rotating the location to allow more people to attend could all be viable options. Before you make the shift, be in tune with the needs of your audience and be willing to pivot again, if the change you make doesn’t bring the outcome your members are looking for.  

To survive as a chapter, your board must be flexible and open to changing. Changes like these can lead to renewed engagement and attendance, involvement, and membership, and even new revenue streams. To stand out above your members’ competing priorities, you have to think about things differently and change how you provide some of your benefits. We hear so often about boards unwilling to change and how that mentality ultimately negatively impacts chapters. Don’t be afraid to mention a potential change because you don’t think your board will agree to it.

Remaining focused on your customers –your members and your prospects– and providing what they want and need, in the manner that’s best for them at a specific moment in time, allows them to continue to see why your chapter is the right place to spend their time, and their dollars.

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