Advice for Leading a Successful Association Chapter

Running a successful chapter of your association entails more than simply reading the handbook and doing the bare minimum. To have a truly effective and thriving chapter, follow these tips.

Participate in all the major association events.

Many associations host a major annual fundraising or awareness initiative, for instance, the Association of Fundraising Professionals has a signature event called National Philanthropy Day.  If your association has a large and significant national event like this, it is important for your chapter participate in it by hosting your own local activities, promoting the national events, and so on.

Have a chapter representative at the annual meeting every year.

At the very least, your chapter president should attend the national or regional annual meeting, but encourage others to attend as well, take good notes and photographs, and report back to your chapter at the next meeting.

Recruit and maintain a diverse board.

Most chapters will need at minimum a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. Seek out diversity for your board and be mindful of cultivating quality replacements for any position that will soon be coming open.

Maintain active social media accounts and updated email lists to keep your members connected.

You may also benefit from a members-only Facebook group to facilitate discussion. Assign someone to keep on top of the account or accounts and keep them updated on a weekly basis. Communicate frequently via email with members. Besides sharing upcoming events and meetings, you can send out meeting minutes, highlight the accomplishments of exemplary members, share national association news, share videos, take surveys and so on.

Host a variety of events that add real value.

Do better than simply hosting the required number of meeting and events. Poll your members to see what types of speakers and activities they would find most beneficial. Strive to offer events that provide a real value to your membership. Offer a mix of different types of events such as expert speakers, field trips, networking nights, social functions and so on.

Follow up with new attendees.

Part of the reason for hosting events is to attract potential members. Be sure to gather contact information and follow up with those who attended an event for the first time. Without selling too aggressively, do your best to convert that person to become a new member.

Plan fundraising initiatives.

Your association will likely have specific fundraising drives that they will expect you to become involved in, but brainstorm with your team to see if there are creative ways to increase donations that might work particularly well for your chapter. There are a number of virtual fundraising techniques that can be very effective with far less work involved than traditional fundraising events.

Apply for chapter grants to support special projects.

If your association or school has a grant program, take advantage of it! That money is there to support special projects and conferences that go beyond the normal chapter expenses. Contact your association to learn more about the grant process.

Refresh yourself on the chapter handbook.

From time to time, it is a good idea to go back to your chapter handbook and refresh yourself on the rules and protocols to ensure that you are keeping your chapter in good standing and maximizing all the resources available to you.

Stay in touch with the national association news.

Be sure to check in with the social media and website of your regional and national organizations to be aware of any important news and updates.

Poll your members.

Take the opportunity to occasionally survey membership to see what you are doing well and what could use improvement. This feedback can be invaluable.

Review old agendas and meeting minutes.

Especially if your meeting minutes are archived electronically, this can be a great way to get ideas from the past successes and/or failures of previous chapter leadership. You can get great ideas for successful fundraisers, engaging events and more.

Network with other chapters.

This is another great way to share ideas, brainstorm and perhaps even create some collaborative events. Share your own creative solutions to problems and everyone grows in the process.

Document effectively.

You can assist future chapter leaders by keeping careful documentation and reporting on fundraising initiatives, event attendance, where donations came from, vendors used, and more. Keep organized data and files to assist your own chapter management as well as that of future chapter leaders.

Get your board involved.

Carefully vet any board members before adding them to your organization. Seek out those who want to be actively involved and be clear with them that they are expected to contribute to the organization by more than simply attending meetings and casting votes.

Apply for chapter awards.

If your association gives out chapter awards, be sure to apply by the deadline. Show that you host an exemplary chapter by proudly promoting any awards you have received.

Need some assistance organizing and managing your chapter? Contact us at J & M Business Solutions to customize a package for the needs of your association or chapter!