Creating Effective Chapters Through Focus and Sharing

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Peter and I recently came back from a very exciting session with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America leadership where we heard from passionate volunteers who, like most our chapter leaders, are determined to have effective chapters but are struggling with how to do that within the challenges of today.

What’s neat about this association and these leaders it they have recently completed a “soul-searching” process to really get to the guts of what makes an effective chapter. They didn’t end up with a laundry list of to do’s – rather they identified the make or break elements of having paid leadership and a relevant road map. These put in the hands of passionate volunteer leaders can make a significant difference in a chapter’s effectiveness. (Interestingly their findings mirror in many ways Mariner’s Dashboard for Chapters.) They added one additional critical element – strong support from national which for them includes staff with “feet in the street.”

Our conversation was focused around the concept of shared resources. In other words, how can small chapters band together to perhaps share an paid exec, jointly support a research effort, co-produce a newsletter, website or conference. GCSAA chapters actually have a number of success stories in this area including:

  • 4 Michigan chapters bonded to create a staffed, state-wide office which centralizes administration and advocacy efforts will allowing for local flavor in gatherings.
  • 5 chapters in the NY/NJ area formed a foundation for turf research.
  • A part-time exec of one chapter was tapped by chapters in two adjoining states to handle their administration.

The reason GCSAA will likely be successful in their efforts has a lot to do with the fact that they are helping chapters focus in on make-or-break elements and leading by example on trends in volunteerism, collaboration and resource-sharing.

And, they are applying metrics including the Net Promoter Score in ways that will assure they make progress. (For more on the NPS, read Tony Rossell’s posting or Associapedia.)

Are you helping your chapters focus in?

Mariner Management & Marketing provides association management, volunteer coordinator and leadership development information for associations and non-profit organizations.