This excerpt is from chapter 4 of the free eBook, “How to Create a Project Toolkit for Your Local Chapters.”
In this one, I discuss partnering with chapters and creating a toolkit implementation pyramid:
While you have some representatives on your development team, your outreach to the chapters is not done. Someone in the group should contact them asking about their experiences, if any, to date with the topic of the toolkit. As the project manager, I usually take on this task at the very beginning, when I am contacting chapters to identify common challenges and interests. However, if you are not a national chapters staff person and your association has such a team, you may find that they would rather take on this role, so make sure you discuss this with them first.
Let us return to the example of recruiting and retaining early career members. From my discussions with chapter staff at the national and local levels, as well as with early career members and chapter member leaders, I knew this was something most chapters were struggling with but some were not. After the discussions, we decided to survey the local chapter executives about their current initiatives. While not every chapter responded, many did. The data we collected allowed us to:
The latter is especially important because it helps you take what I call a “no excuses” approach to toolkit development. By this I mean that I can provide templates in the toolkit for chapters at every size and budget band.
I think of this as a pyramid. At the base are the most common initiatives that have little to no financial investment—although they likely have some sweat equity! For early career members, an example could be that with the toolkit the national office provides a list of all current and potential early career members from its database. Along with this information, the toolkit will include template emails, letters and phone conversations to guide the chapter staff and member leaders towards the goal of engaging these members. This is something every chapter should be able to do. Depending on the project, national may even want to send the chapter flyers or brochures (which could have prepaid postage) to distribute, thus further reducing the cost to the chapter.
Determine the most common current activities to ensure we included those in the toolkit;
Provide peer examples, which has the added benefit of making the activities more approachable;
Identify new ideas for future editions of the toolkit; and
Parse activities by chapter size.
Continuing with this example, in the middle of the pyramid is an educational program targeting early career members. The toolkit will include a sample meeting agenda and PowerPoint presentation from a chapter that has successfully held such an event. Ideally, you will also be able to suggest local speakers, but if not, see if someone from the model chapter is willing to discuss how they found speakers or write a tips sheet to include in the toolkit. At the pyramid’s pinnacle will be the most expensive activities that will not be within the reach of every chapter. For example, offering travel awards for early career members to attend a chapter or national meeting. If your association offers a chapters recognition program, I recommend tying implementing the toolkits to the criteria.