Chat, Chew & Chocolate isn’t your traditional association and certainly isn’t your traditional chapter organization – but it is creating excitement and gathering steam. Translated that means it’s building members and raising revenue. Founder and president Dena Marie Patton said the organization formed out of an informal gathering of women who met to share stories, advice and friendship. In 2005, Dina decided to grow the concept and today they have 9 chapters each focused on tight geographic community and boasting between 100-300 members.
Okay, it’s not traditional. Its more like a franchise operation. The organization really grew out of grew out of a business of providing special parties that focused on the philosophy that its important for women to make time for yourself, fun and friendship on a weekly basis. Dena was throwing parties for fun and started to get more requests than she could handle. That led to the model of a licensed chapter is which the Hostess Director pays 1-time fee for which they get a manual, party in a box, phone and web support and training. And this Director can actually make money on the special events if they want to.
Another difference is that members don’t pay a dues, they pay an event registration. And, they aren’t called upon to take a role like running the next event.
Some may argue that this isn’t a chapter and it doesn’t apply to associations. But I would argue that it is and there are some possible lessons for us. For example, the Director (think new name for president) has a clearly defined task, ample support and incentive. Members pay as they go so they equate the “dues” with a use fee; makes seeing the value of the dollar a little clearer. The chapter exists simply to create and nuture community – not to do long reports, hold elections, update bylaws, etc. etc. And the chapter is measured on its ability to create community aka bring women to an event not on how many points they get for completing tasks.
And it’s worth noting that they have a social responsibility mission for a very appropriate charity Girls Rule.
Different model? Yes. Better model? What do you think?