Thinking positively and proactively about 2022

Part 1 of 2-part series:

Hard to believe the holiday season is upon us already! Could this mean it’s time to take stock in this past year?

Here’s a thought: How about we switch that up a bit and instead of just looking back at what worked and didn’t work, let’s look ahead by strategizing on how we can build on the lessons we learned in the past 2 years.

This is exactly what a group of CRPs did earlier this month when they convened for another of our online idea swaps where they shared stories, ideas, and more. We don’t have the answers yet but below are a few takeaways from the swap on ways we can use those lessons learned to shape a more positive future. Or, as in some cases, translate the lessons into powerful questions to explore.

We discovered some unmet needs. For example, our virtual events brought in those that don’t usually come to in-person events. We’ve always defined our chapters in terms of these events, but now we’ve discovered that there are other things people need and want from our chapters. So, how can we build on that excitement and not lose those new connections we made? That is, how are we going to keep those members that came out of the woodwork still engaged as we return to normal? What can chapters do beyond events? Hmmm…

We discovered the power of cross-chapter collaboration, whether it was co-marketing, sharing resources, etc. To encourage that, we can start by training our leaders not to think of themselves as solo organizations but rather be open about what they are doing. Then have them ask “in what ways can we collaborate with others doing the same or similar things?” We already know it works!

Of course, we also discovered – the not-so-easy lesson to learn – that cross-chapter competition/ chapter-HQ competition can be problematic. Even before the pandemic, virtual events were on the rise. With that came the blurring of geographic lines and increased competition. But there is also opportunity here. So, how do we take the sting out of this competition and find ways to make it work to benefit all parties involved? Still thinking on that one.

Some chapters weren’t prepared to face the challenge and began to fade. Experience tells us that fading chapters are often due to low energy from our leaders and the pandemic only underscored this problem. So, do we prop these chapters up or let them fade? No easy answer here. *One suggestion is to allow chapters to go on a hiatus. Read more in next post.

On the other hand, those that were thriving before the pandemic continued to thrive due to strong leadership. Lessons learned. So how do we develop strong leaders?

Not surprisingly, we saw a marked increase in volunteer stress. 2020/21 has been tough on all of us and our volunteers were particularly stressed just trying to keep their chapters afloat. Offering as much support as possible is imperative, but also it’s time to rethink our training. Check out more training tips in next post. And be sure to check out our 3-part series on creating a volunteer learning journey.

To end on a good note, we also learned the value of reserves and technology. Those chapters that had and used these reserves and resources optimally were the chapters that succeeded. There are two questions here: how do we train our leaders on how to leverage technology to their benefit, and how do we assure our chapters have the appropriate reserves to weather uncertainties that may arise in the future? Food for thought.

Read more about the challenges many of us are facing in our next post!

Of course, there is never enough time to explore all these challenges, but we’ll keep in trucking! Join us on 12/15 for another great idea swap where we’ll explore how to coach your chapter leadership for success. And maybe answer some of the questions above?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

*The Idea Swap was part of our ongoing series with Billhighway.