If you work for a national association that also has local chapters, it is extremely important to align these two different but related entities. Doing that can be tricky, especially because the formal and informal relationships between the national (or international) and local levels can take many forms. While there is no panacea, one way I have successfully addressed this problem is by developing project guides for chapters.
A project guide – or toolkit – is a compilation of materials to assist a chapter with a topic, initiative or challenge. The toolkit is developed at the national level but with input from local leaders. The idea is to leverage efficiencies and ensure the toolkit aligns with the mission, vision, brand and member value proposition your association wants to filter down to the local level. However, for it to be successfully adopted by the chapters, you need to include their input in the development process.
I have used chapter toolkits in a variety of ways, ranging from member engagement campaigns to rolling out new benefits or programs. Granted, these toolkits have been met with varying success, but the trials and errors along the way have helped me perfect how I approach toolkit development.
I use a four-step process:
- Identifying the common topic, initiative or challenge the project guide can address;
- Managing and mobilizing stakeholders;
- Partnering with chapters to find examples to include;
- Distributing the toolkit and measuring its effectiveness.
If you want to strengthen the national/local relationship at your association, a chapter toolkit could be a first step in the right direction.
For the step-by-step process, download the free eBook, “How to Create a Project Toolkit for your Local Chapters.”