Part 2 of 2-part series
Our last post recapped our October idea swap which highlighted some of the lessons we learned in 2020/21 and how we can use them to shape a more positive future. During the swap, we also split into groups to brainstorm on three specific challenges. Any sound familiar?
Train the trainer: We know our volunteers were already stressed and the pandemic only piled on more angst so asking them to give their time to training won’t be met with great enthusiasm. We need to ask, then, how can we tie volunteer training into something that’s going to support and engage volunteers? And, because we saw first-hand how the resilience of our chapters depended on strong local leadership, how do we use training in the context of succession planning? A couple of ideas to get volunteers on board with training …
- Simplify the process by focusing on one or two things (i.e., recruitment) that truly matter. Overwhelming volunteers with a litany of items just leads to more push back.
- Build on the idea swap format and switch it to a training model that, as mentioned above, focuses on the basics like chapter management, financial issues, etc. People liked the idea swap so let’s leverage its popularity. Let them train each other.
- Incentivize participation in training with discounted/free tickets to the annual conference, training, social outings, etc. Allow CEUs, if you can, to be applied to training.
Tidbit: One association is in the process of switching regional rep structure from eight regional reps who are mostly serving as the voice of the association to chapters to a chapter support liaison team which allows these volunteers to divvy up duties such as training or mentoring. It’s like a train-the-trainer concept. Teach these volunteers how to train and mentor others. This will, hopefully, eliminate the need to train all chapter leaders (of which there are many!), and instead train a select cohort who will take the knowledge down the line.
Communications: Getting chapter leaders to report and/or talk to us not to mention talk to each other is a continuing challenge. The conversation centered around listservs and how can we get chapter leaders to use them regularly. Automatically subscribe chapter leaders to a daily/weekly/monthly digest, when possible, is a given. But what next? Maybe …
- Recruit the more active participants to start discussion threads.
- Tag chapter leaders in your posts especially when you are answering a question. For example, when you get a question from a chapter leader, post it on the listserv and tag that leader. That goes for any chapter leader that has a great idea, has answered a previous question, etc.
- Send email notifications when a question is posted asking them to check-in and respond.
- Summarize discussions and share in your regular leader update or e-letter.
Tip: One association pro does a short Tips of the Month email highlighting a few items and this has improved readership.
Inactive chapters: Deciding on whether to let a chapter fade into the sunset is never an easy decision. We always know that strong and energetic leaders were key to chapter success, and the challenges brought on by the pandemic underscored that knowledge. As for the ones that are struggling, we need to recognize that some of these chapters may want to come back, so what do we do in the meantime?
Tip: One association is allowing chapters to take a hiatus. The key is to stay in contact with them as if they were still active and continue to provide them with the resources and technology technical support they need. And be sure to encourage them not to ignore prospective members. We want them to be ready for re-engagement once that happens.
What’s your top challenge?
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?