Unlock the effectiveness of your affiliates and chapters

Two people looking at multiple computer screens.

Review for effectiveness

I audited the effectiveness of 377 affiliate partnerships and chapters that distribute programs locally for five national nonprofit organizations with assets ranging from less than $500,000 to $80,000,000. The affiliates are independent 501(c)(3) organizations. And the chapters are a mix of independent 501(c)(3) organizations and entities that operate under the aegis of the parent organization. The source of information for the survey was from their websites and social media pages.

Have an open mind when reviewing for effectiveness

And as I was collecting data for my audit, new articles appeared in my Feedly feed that caught my attention. So I took a break to read them and found four related to my survey.

The first article by Greg Warner of MarketSmart is about things donors don’t care about, such as financial efficiency, amazingness, accounting, complexity, desperation, and the heroism of a charity’s administrator or founder.

The second article, by Dr. Aaron Horschig of Squat University, is about strengthening core muscles around our spine. The author asks the reader to imagine a symphony orchestra composed of countless musicians playing their instruments in a united manner with constant changes in tempo and volume. Our body must coordinate every muscle and joint to create purposeful and sound movement.

The third article, by Pritha Venkatachalam, Jan Schwier, Keshav Kanoria, Erica Lezama, Amrutha Datla, and Bill Breen was posted on the Bridgespan Group website. The article is about peer-driven change, the mindset of community-driven organizations, and the pathways of community-driven change.

The fourth article, by Anne Wallestad of Board Source, was posted on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website. The article is about the principles of purpose-driven board leadership.

List your findings to unlock effectiveness

Here are some findings of my audit of 377 affiliate and chapter groups.

  1. 22-groups, or 5.85%, have broken links on their home page.
  2. 43-groups, or 11.41%, keep their Facebook events current.
  3. 52-groups, or 13.79%, follow program standards.
  4. 109-groups, or 29.91%, have missing or outdated copyright.
  5. 127-groups, or 33.69%, keep their Facebook posts current.
  6. 259-groups, or 68.70%, have a call to action above the fold.
  7. 359-groups, or 95.23%, have a working website.


Numbers three, two, five, and six stand out among the findings.


Here are the ways I thought the four articles on Feedly relate to my data:

  1. People who support our organizations are the hero.
  2. People who govern & operate our organizations are on the same team as people who support our organizations.
  3. People who participate at the local level of our affiliates and chapters have the assets to effect real change.
  4. Being ill-informed challenges the context of any situation.

No doubt my review of these groups is casual. My method was cursory, and the sampling was small. And, I did not rate the strength of call-to-action statements. I merely counted if there was one. And when I shared this data with the organizations, their feedback confirmed my findings. And they added that the survey results matched the discussions they were having about branding, capacity, compliance, maintenance, messaging, and planning that also impact fundraising and recruitment.

Having clear objectives helps compliance, communications, program operations, and thoughtful planning improves almost everything.

One of the nonprofit organizations with six-million dollars in assets has 120 affiliates. All the affiliates have the same objectives and work toward the same goals. The organization makes a semi-customizable website template available to all its affiliates to help them tell the same story. The main menu on the website template uses four-page names to help visitors navigate its programs. Audit results show affiliates replace the four items in the main menu of the standard template with 120 different page names in their main menus. This behavior is not specific to this organization. All the nonprofit organizations in the survey experience this behavior.

Why are groups out of sync with program standards?

I wonder if other national nonprofit organizations that distribute programs locally through affiliate partnerships and chapters experience some of these issues. And, how do these behaviors impact the affiliate or chapter’s ability to raise awareness and funds?

Also, some affiliates do not mention the program they distribute by name in their text.

Can these findings be mitigated? You bet!


Compliance and planning rely on our clear understanding of our external and internal audiences. And needs for the people in our organization to work together. Then finally, to have the bravery and the capacity to take action.

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Photo credit

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels.

Find more information like this

You can find more information for board members and executives on my blog, Alamode.

Thank you.

Thank you for reading this article. I appreciate your time.

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