Posted on Sep 14, 2022

Celebrating our wins is important and acknowledging gaps that can hinder our growth, equally so. If you sit back and wait for the challenges to arise before you address them, you will start to lag behind. On the other hand, you'll find that staying ahead of the curve means operations run more smoothly and issues are addressed while they are only molehills instead of mountains!

Lets take a look at proactive and reactive chapter management and why proactive gets better results.

The Basics of Proactive and Reactive Management

Proactive management is driven from a continual improvement perspective. You are looking ahead to identify possible future issues and resolve them before they become major challenges. This can mean better outcomes for everyone and a better organization experience.

When you have chapters spanning from one coast to another or across countries, it can get even more challenging to deal with problems as they come up.

The Proactive Chapter Management Model

A proactive chapter management model is all about supporting your chapters from the start.

The key is communication - on all levels. This does require, however, the need to always be aware of the type of support your chapter leaders and members need, and a willingness to assist them.

When done right, you'll find that the local chapters become the lifeblood of the organization, while still operating as their own entity and leading their own programs.

Here are some of the things you need to be proactive about when it comes to chapter management.

Dedicated Time

Time is probably the biggest thing you need to be proactive about and often the thing most organizations find to be a struggle. When you dedicate time appropriately, you can really go after real results in creating a community. Associations and the community within them don't happen overnight; they take intentional time. If you don't carve out time to be intentional about learning more about your member experiences, staff and volunteer experiences, growth trends and more, you will always feel like you're playing catch up.

Support Person

Provide designated roles to support your local chapters, such as regional leaders or managers. This person not only offers support to new chapters to help them get off the ground, but provides support to existing chapters to overcome issues and to make sure they are in alignment with the national organization.

Learn From Others

Give your local chapters a space online to connect with one another. Share about local chapters wins on national chapter channels and communications. This allows them to share ideas and learn from each others failures and successes. Allowing this online space can deepen relationships across the organization and can also serve as a point of connection for members at annual in-person conferences as well.

Understand Your Capacity

Have an understanding of your staffing and leadership capacity, both at the national and chapter levels. It is good to always be realistic about what your leaders can offer. This allows you to set realistic goals, that when met, everyone can feel good about.

Create Your Culture

There is an organizational culture and then there is a local culture that members from each chapter member relate to. An organizational culture does not happen by accident and there is a balance to strike between organizational and geographical cultures. But, by giving chapters autonomy to set up their unique personalities yet aligning with organizational values, you can ensure success on every level.

Final Thoughts

By being proactive in managing your associations chapters, you can build true community and work toward a greater organizational goal. It is about providing the support your chapters truly need and investing the time and resources into that support.