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Managing multiple groups or chapters in a single Wild Apricot account

Some organizations need to manage separate chapters/groups within a single Wild Apricot account (and thus only one website).

Here's the current state of this functionality and links to related threads:

Each chapter can have its own website section and there can be web editors with permissions limited to a specific chapter section (existing functionality)

Members can be separated out into chapters through a use of Groups field or a custom field (existing functionality). One aspect that is currently missing is the ability to assign per-chapter membership managers. There is already a thread dedicated to this, see http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825755-new-admin-role-membership-manager-limited-to-spe

Events can be separated out between chapters through the existing event tags functionality. There is currently no provision for chapter-specific event managers - all event managers would have access to all events. There is a request about adding event-specific organizers for each event (vs. current model of Wild Apricot account-wide event managers). See http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308920-archive/suggestions/8831335-event-specific-administrators-10260 I believe this might meet need of chapter event organizers - and would appreciate your comments and thoughts on that thread.

Finally, there is a financial aspect. Currently, all payments in a particular Wild Apricot account flow into the same merchant account defined in settings. It sounds like some groups want chapter finances (event payments, membership payments) to flow into per-chapter merchant accounts - which is not currently possible. Something along these lines has been requested - see http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825845-allow-multiple-online-payment-gateways-in-one-wa-a and I would appreciate your comments.

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I would greatly appreciate comments about there or any other aspects of managing multiple chapters/groups within a single Wild Apricot account.

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    Dmitry Buterin shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    42 comments

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      • AlexSirota commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I have been wracking my brain on how to work around elegantly Wild Apricot's configuration to accomplish the idea of a "master" site and subsites all within 1 Wild Apricot instance.

        1) The database can be configured to have either a chapter assignment attribute OR a different set of membership levels for each chapter.

        Using the database field approach one can register through a central, agreed upon set of membership levels consistent for ALL chapters (or at least the majority) and then the member records via drop down or radio button which chapter they are assigning themselves to. You can do some interesting things like being assigned (and pay via calculated charge membership field) to multiple chapters if you want. The MAJOR issue with this is that page level access control CANNOT be set with saved searches so membership groups have to be used instead. I do believe membership groups CAN be set on registration or renewal but cannot be automatically defaulted to a set level. This is an issue that could be solved with some page level Javascript (a very small hack).

        Using membership levels is another approach where each chapter derives their own set of membership levels from a master set and then has a large degree of configurability. Membership levels are the chapter identifiers then.

        Access control works seamlessly in the website with membership levels.

        2) All access control to websites can be managed via membership level or the membership group and unsurprisingly this is the easiest and best fit. Chapters can have their own page templates derived from a master set of templates and the "subsites" can be quite rich with their own set of controls.

        Escalation has to happen to a master website coordinator to make new pages or changes to page templates. This may be a *good* thing!

        3) The events system has to use membership level/groups based on decision in 1 OR instead use the tagging system. Tagging system can be fragile and leak events into wrong chapters.

        The main issue here is that any administrator with event management rights (or full admin) can see all the events and has to be adept at finding and managing their own events. Lots of chapters means LOTS of events. The upside is that people can copy event ideas from each other using duplicate but the event UI can become a mess. On the other hand with adequate training and policies this *could* work.

        Events access control via gadgets show the appropriate events to each subsite chapter, with a BIG plus that events across the whole org seamlessly float up to a master event calendar.

        4) The payment gateway limitation is the *single biggest* roadblock. Since only 1 currency and 1 payment gateway per account is allowed, the owner of the payment gateway has to be responsible for "doling" out funds to each chapter using a very well defined identifier. This must happen in the reporting on the payment gateway. Most (if not all payment gateways) support ONLY 1 bank account so this must be done OUTSIDE of the payment gateway. This is a show stopper.

        If Affinipay supported multiple bank accounts for withdrawal based on a tag, a single payment gateway would be ok as long as an indicator for every transaction showed where the transaction goes (HQ, chapter 1, 2 etc) and if the payment gateway could just dump money into the right account, financial reporting could support the reconciliation effort.

        Saving costs of multiple payment gateway setups and administration as well as single point oversight of all financials could be good (unless chapters didn't trust each other).

      • AlexSirota commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        5) Reporting can be done in 1 site with membership summary quite well IF and ONLY IF the membership levels are selected for each chapter (described in 1). If a consistent set of chapters with calculated charge fields are used for all chapters, that's even better. The Excel Dashboard we adapted from Wild Apricot API samples can be effectively used for custom rollup rerpoting.

        6) Training and operational excellence is a MUST in a single site multi-chapter Wild Apricot system. You have to do things correctly in terms of adding a chapter, adding pages, inheriting membership levels for a new chapter, modification of existing levels.

        Setting up 1 set of levels seems like a better way to go but that assumes a business model transformation across all chapters which may not be realistic.

        It seems doable, but the payment gateway roadblock seems to be the thing that is the most critical to resolve, whereas the others are not so bad.

        Setting up 60 chapters individually with cloning and then reporting across them all seems great, but financially it just doesn't scale because the per contact cost at the smaller payment levels is dramatically more than at the 15k+ levels. The larger the org the less appealing a multi-site approach looks and the more difficult it is to manage.

        I can see the light at the end of the tunnel if the Payment Gateway issue is resolved, honestly speaking.

      • Robin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Ditto for us - need multiple payment gateways and also multi currency support. Also ability to protect membership data of chapters ie much more granular capability setting for Admins.

        So far no movement from WA on any of these needs other than 'not happening any time soon.

        Note that this 'wish' was originally posted by WA almost 8 years ago.

        I am also researching a replacement solution - currently 6 chapters using WA and on top of that the recent ~30% price hike.

        We currently have the first pass of our requirements document. Sending it to other chapters today for review and comment.

        So far have identified about 8 other vendors that may fit our needs.

        Expect to have comments from other chapters back early next week and will then forward consolidated requirements to above vendors with expection of having their responses by mid May.

        I would be happy to share all this information with anyone else on this forum - just send me your email address - robinsapiro+wa at gmail dot com

      • Ed Emond-Worline commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Our 5 Chapters (500+ members) voted on combining our existing 4 WA sites into a clunky single WA site using the existing WA options. The largest Chapter has refused to go with a consolidated WA site because of the inability of each Chapter having their own payment processor/account (PayPal in our case) for Chapter dues and Chapter events. Sadly, I have a feeling we may start to look beyond WA now. We want to present a single website with Chapter pages/events vs. having members & the public search around 5 different Chapter websites and our "corporate" website. We need a consolidated membership database to invite all Chapter members to events, All Chapters newsletter, etc. as we move forward.

      • James commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Dmitry - This type of application would be a hit for the non-profit sectors that can not afford 30-50k for a custom software system to manage multiple chapters under an umbrella organization.
        Can you consider developing this for our 6300 member, 53 chapter non-profit ? I know of at least one other Canadian non-profit that would also use this type of platform.
        Cheers- Jim

      • E Powers commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        My organization site is currently a WordPress multisite. It's a main chapter then has 5 chapter subsites. We're going to be adding four more chapters this spring. I came here to see if WA allowed for multi-site b/c managing the WordPress site has it's challenges too. One thing though is that every chapter has it's own membership, paypal gateway etc. which appears WA does not...so I guess I'll be sticking with WP for now.

      • Wes Stieringer commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Another workaround would be to perhaps send additional data to, in our case, PayPal. When I download their CSV file of all activity, there are numerous available fields that are blank. Does WA have a way to send additional info, such as a chapter field in the membership database or an event tag? That could help to sort out PayPal transactions.

      • GOPS Webmaster commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Any further news on this subject? Our organization has 5 Chapters and 500+ members. Four of our Chapters are now using their own WA sites. We would love to pursue a "national" or "umbrella" top level with Chapters still doing their own websites under the "national" concept. We are looking for a single membership database and Chapter ability to use their own PayPal (or other) account for "their" events. We'd love to see the ability to provide a combined calendar of events. E.g., we offer camping trips put on by each Chapter, but we'd like to invite all in the organization via the joint membership database. Along these same lines, the ability to subscribe to a joint calendar on our mobile devices - iphones, ipads, etc.

      • jasmyn commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Dmitry As you know I have loved Wild Apricot for more than eight years and send people to you all the time. It is frustrating to combat Board members in our org about the lack of multi-chapter management tools. There are other software options learning from WA and competing who are looking at this option and we do not want to move at all. We have a huge membership drive this year and plan to double our membership so the last thing I need is all of our local club administrators having to learn new software. At least please let us know when this is on the horizon for development. These comments are positive and on point. We mainly need central membership processing with local branch managing events and payments to go to their own club bank account.
        Thanks again though to all WA staff for a fabulous front runner to any other software - you've been the leader for years.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Allow for multiple chapter accounts and event registration with unique Paypal accounts for every chapter.

      • TangentRW commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        As you are collecting information on this concept here is another scenario for your consideration.

        Our organization has two divisions:

        a) An annual conference that meets in a hotel.

        b) A club that provides year round services to those of our members who want more intensive services.

        Registering in the conference confers membership in the organization. Registering for a monthly or greater membership in the club confers membership in the organization. While we do offer memberships separately from these activities very few people take advantage of this as they view the organization primarily through the lens of the conference or the club. While we could separate out our annual organization’s membership fees from either the conference or the club we have observed that doing so puts a constraint on our ability to market either activities: in our earlier years we noted that it was a resistance point to either state the membership charge separately or to have to explain why the membership fee was even necessary so we now currently incorporate membership into our user fees. The way that we can justify incorporating the membership fees into usage fees is that we make it clear to our members that we are taking this fee out of their usage fees and we track internally the transfer of funds to the parent organization, which is a budgeting exercise to cover the corporate expenses common to both divisions and to the membership as a whole. Furthermore our larger organization does function as a membership organization with regard to meetings, membership voting, etc.

        In effect our two divisions are sort of “chapters” of the larger organization. The larger organization has an annual membership fee, the conference charges differing event admission fees, and the club charges differing monthly usage fees. In our case our divisions are part of the same corporate entity. I would also add that it is conceivable that we could add additional conventions to our list of divisions.

        We are currently using Wild Apricot for the club only. We can do this by employing the fiction of treating our monthly usage fees in the club as “membership” fees in the club when in fact they are usage fees to the members of our larger organization who choose to use the club. Since Wild Apricot does not support auto generated billing for anything other than memberships this was the only way that the club could take advantage of auto generated billing on a timed basis.

        We do not use Wild Apricot for the conference division mostly because we have detailed workflow requirements for literally hundreds of sessions at the conference that are not handled currently by Wild Apricot. My comments below assume that we would eventually switch to Wild Apricot for the conference division.

        Unfortunately all of the above means that we have to manually combine our membership roster from both divisions and perform occasional accounting reconciliations between our divisions. Given the above, admittedly jury-rigged, setup features that could be useful to us would be the following:

        1) Certain event registration types in a “chapter” confer membership in the larger organization which shows up in that organization’s membership roster, along with the corresponding bookkeeping entries. General organization membership fees could be either be listed separately and automatically added to the event bill or the organization could simply incorporate them (as we have done) into the event fee; this choice would be an administrative setting. Internal accounting data on membership fees would follow these settings.

        2) Certain membership types in a “chapter” confer membership in the larger organization which shows up in the larger organization’s membership roster, along with corresponding bookkeeping entries. General organization membership fees could be either be listed separately and automatically added to the division’s membership bill or the organization could simply incorporate them (as we have done) into the division’s membership fee; this choice would be an administrative setting. Internal accounting data on membership fees would follow these settings.

        If you have read this far, I thank you for your attention.

      • Duncan Todd commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am excluded from the general discussion area for some reason.

        This functionality is crucial for our non-profit - we have started evaluating competing products that offer this functionality out of the box (e.g. silkstart).

        What we need:

        A national or central view of the full database with existing WA admin and reporting functionality.

        Assignable admin rights at local chapter level with the ability to view/edit/maintain member, event, money (donation and finances), email and site data, per existing WA admin functionality but only for that chapter's members. A local chapter dashboard would be good. Essentially a "mini" standard WA view of one segment of the database with rights and views limited to that chapter's data. Custom subscriptions and charges for each chapter, together with either a flat-fee or % contribution to national level would be good too.

        Ideally also we'd like to restrict chapter admins from being able to export data to comply with local privacy legislation.

        Any idea on if or when such functionality might find its way into WA?

      • aperesx commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        We have the same need. We have six regions distributed throughout the country and in each of those regions we have a number of councils (equivalent to branches) and we need to limit the administration rights of each Regional Secretary to have access, creation and update rights on the membership of their region and the Council Secretary the same rights but only to the membership of his Council. Basically we need to be able to curtail administration rights for administrators at national level, regional level and local level
        I believe we could have it done in two ways,
        1) Each secretary could have a group of members linked to his level of administration rights or
        2) Each member could be allocated to a secretary (An administrator) with full rights or partial rights to create and update the profiles of those members.

        It would require allowance for for a member's information to be accessed, changed etc. by more then one secretary (Administrator).

        Regards,
        Alvaro Peres
        aperesx@gmail.com

      • Annetta Cheek commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am administrator for two WA accounts. Both of them have members in different areas - one has four regions in the US, the other has members in 27 countries. Both accounts would benefit if we could give the regional or country representative access to just the data relevant to that area.

      • JT commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This would be incredibly helpful.. We are currently looking to have our other branches use wildapricot.

        Ideally, for us, having each chapter manage payments and events, but share membership database information, so that members(or database managers) have to manually make a new login for each branch site.

        For example, we have one main branch and put on many events each year, currently we have a hidden membership level to which we manually upload "other branch" member information so they are able to take advantage of online member perks.

        It would also be wonderful to have main branch database managers be able pull reports from the organization as a whole.

        I hope this goes forward soon!

        Any updates from WA's end on this topic?

      • NAIFA Oregon commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Adding to this. We currently manage both state and some local chapters. They each have their own website and events, but we still have to duplicate all events onto the state website calendar . It would be great to have the ability to merge through an ical url or html code so all the events from the various accounts can show up on the one state website events calendar too and when people register the details show up both on the backend of the state website and the backend of the corresponding local website.

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