This is an excerpt from the free eBook, “How to Create a Project Toolkit for Your Local Chapters”
An often overlooked resource at the national level of an association is the value and impact of its chapters. While the relationship between the national and local levels can take many forms, ultimately both share the common goal of serving their members. If we focus on service, we can begin to identify ways to reinforce each other’s efforts and increase member value.
One such way to accomplish this is through chapter toolkits developed at the national level to provide all chapters with the same information, tools or resources. These toolkits can be used to better align chapters with national strategic plans or agenda items while providing common local threads. For example, if a national strategic priority is to raise awareness of the association among members’ clients, you could create a chapter media toolkit with template press releases, talking points, and a step-by-step guide on how to secure press coverage.
The first step in developing a toolkit is to determine what national could provide that would be mutually beneficial. If you approach this as just a way to get the chapters to support something that is important to national—but perhaps is not a priority for the chapters—the project will most likely fail. When I create a toolkit, I start by talking with members and staff at both the national and chapter levels to identify common challenges and interests. In doing this, not only am I able to determine what kind of kit would deliver the most value, I also find member and staff champions to support the toolkit’s development. Some example toolkit ideas include:
- How to recruit and retain a target member audience (e.g. early career members);
- Increase knowledge of new national standards or guidelines (e.g. worker safety or patient care quality improvement); and
- Create community around common sub-specialities (e.g. if you have non-geographic components – sometimes called membership sections – at the national level, providing resources to foster these at the local level).
To elaborate on the first bullet, staff and members generally agree on the value of recruiting and retaining younger members, but since national has more resources to dedicate to this initiative, it has developed a strategy, while only a handful of chapters have. In this situation, a toolkit can pull from the national strategy and the chapter examples to provide a relevant resource that supports a common goal.