StarChapter of September: SGMP Michigan

Another chapter leadership talking about the importance of increasing participation among members to join the board as well as the value of getting more non-dues revenues from advertising and sponsorships. And, when leadership assumes that real work always precedes that of the chapter, they were able to get new volunteers to join the Michigan SGMP board and put the work in the proper perspective.


1. What was SGMP Michigan’s strategy for engaging new members in the past year? 
Our goal is to mentor our next board members through committee involvement thus preparing them to be future board members. The key to our society’s success is member engagement. 

One of the things that we did was encouraging non board members to chair different committees. This creates engagement and allows the members to own the work of the chapter. Members became more involved and their passion to the society motivated others to join committees as well. We also ran a few membership drives, which created a contest among current members to recruit as many new members as possible. We are a volunteer group, which means our board members are also volunteers. 


2. Can you tell me about a successful event/meeting that you organized in the past year? 
The Annual Road Rally is always a hit and allows members to explore one of our member destinations in a fun and casual team-building fashion. Planners and suppliers are separated into cars to compete in a photo scavenger hunt coordinated by one of our members. This event is always a great time and allows our members to show off golden nuggets in their destination that some of our members haven’t seen. The key is that the entire event is sponsored: suppliers pay to sponsor the cars to cart around the planners, meals, meeting space is sponsored by the host destination and venues, and even awards are sponsored. So it also helps in fundraising as well.  


3. Can you share some secrets to running a successful chapter? 
Secrets to running a successful chapter include inclusion of the entire board, a positive belief in the ability of the chapter (a “never say never” or “anything is possible” attitude), a sound financial baseline, active membership participation, and a little competitive spirit goes a long way. You must also have a strong leader at the helm to guide the ship. Over the last several years we have been fortunate to have strong leadership who have navigated us through rough waters and through the other side.

We can attribute some of our financial success to our sponsorship and advertising bundle packages, which we release in August each year. The packages include valuable print and web advertising and popular sponsorship opportunities to assist the supplier membership in budgeting for the coming calendar year. One thing we are able to do with our StarChapter software and that’s gone over well is including attendance at the monthly meetings, so all the supplier has to do is register and no monthly check request has to be filled out—very popular.


4. Do you get inspiration from other chapters at SGMP? 
The interactions between the chapters are vital to the overall health of the National Organization and the local chapters.  

The Michigan chapter has routinely been inspired from other chapters. Whether from a competitive standpoint or one from hearing a comment and thinking "that would really work well in our chapter".

Several years ago at a Joint Leadership Meeting, one chapter shared their concept of a Wine Wall as a fundraiser. Given that Michigan is bursting with local wineries, we decided to give it a try. We have now had four successful Wine Wall events at our Annual Education Conferences raising about $1,000 each time. It is always amazing how a small comment from another chapter can lead to a new idea for your chapter.


5. Do you have any tips/advice to share with other volunteers?  
The key to an effective chapter is having an organized, team-oriented, enthusiastic board, which recognizes the limitations of board members being volunteers. That means having an acceptance of the fact that "real work" may get in the way of chapter work. A strong chapter will create a culture where everyone understands and internalizes that we are there for each other, and when one of us needs to ask for help or admit we cannot achieve the task in the allotted time period others will step up and assist. As long as you have a strong team, this back and forth of stepping in to assist one another will allow for everyone to feel valued and able to achieve great things without a paid staff.   


6. What is in store for SGMP Michigan members next? 
The focus for the upcoming year is membership retention and growth; continued outstanding educational programming; increased communication with members, with other chapters and with national; increased networking and out-reach opportunities; and a targeted marketing plan to disseminate information about and generate interest in chapter scholarships for attendance at our state conference and the national conference. The SGMP Michigan board, at its board retreat in late June, will focus on strategic planning and goal setting, both short and long term. 


7. How did StarChapter help you run the chapter and reach your goals? 
StarChapter assisted us in achieving our goals through communication abilities offered on the system as well as the ability to track attendance, and place orders directly on the SGMP Michigan website. Having everything centralized in one location just made things very easy. We have been able to create email templates related to certificates of attendance, “sorry we missed you” emails to send out to our members, and welcome letters to new members. We have also been able to show planner/supplier ratios at meetings across time to demonstrate a return on investment for supplier sponsorships, and by that gain more sponsors.   


Don't forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter! Add your email address to the form to the right and get the latest updates and tips on how to run your chapter.

Return to list