The ARMA Greater Los Angeles Chapter has been serving the needs of Records and Information Management professionals since 1956 with educational programs, networking, and leadership opportunities through seminars and monthly meetings.
The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of ARMA International has over 140 members representing large and small businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations located throughout Southern California. We were able to connect with their board to learn how StarChapter has been able to help them with their new membership engagement plan and streamlining the management of their chapter.
1. What was ARMA Greater Los Angeles’ strategy for engaging new members in the past year?
We have several strategies for engaging new members. Within the first month of membership our Members Director reaches out with a welcome email. We invite new members to their first meeting for free. For that meeting, we try to pair them with a board member or other chapter veteran to welcome them and provide useful information about the chapter.
This past year we had a Happy Hour Social. This was a purely networking event without educational content. New members were sent a special invitation to encourage them to come and meet new colleagues. This event was free for all members and was sponsored by some of our business partners.
2. Tell us about a successful event/meeting you organized last year.
Our first meeting of the year was a great success with over 50 attendees. We brought in an expert on digital preservation from a movie studio and held the meeting at SAG/AFTRA headquarters. She discussed digital preservation from a film/cinema perspective, but shared tips and ideas that were relevant to many in the records management industry.
We shared our meeting information with members of the Society of American Archivists as well as an archivist list serve. We had attendees who had never been to one of our events before, which is always one of our goals. They came from cities and non-profit organizations focused on special archival projects. They came away with new knowledge for archiving, and also learned about our chapter and its benefits.
3. The ARMA Greater Los Angeles network is extensive. Does the board get ideas on how to improve membership value from other chapters?
Our board members get ideas from several sources. Once a year we attend the ARMA Pacific Region Leadership Conference. At this event we meet and talk with chapter leaders from 5 states. We share successes and failures so that we can learn from each other and become stronger.
We don’t limit our input to just ARMA chapters. We network and partner with chapters from other organizations whose values, goals, industries, and membership base align with our own. It often gives a fresh perspective on what we can offer our members.
4. Do you have any tips/advice to share with other board volunteers?
Don’t forget that your chapter board is a team. You are there to make your chapter stronger and ensure that it is a powerful resource for your members. Although we all have our titles, job descriptions, and responsibilities, we are there to help out the rest of the board. If one person is extra busy during the month, they can ask for help so that another board member or volunteer can pick up the slack.
Communication is the most important tool of any board. Share knowledge and experience with each other. Some of your board members may have performed other roles or been on boards from other chapters. They can provide new perspective, or a more thorough institutional history that can benefit newer members.
And don’t forget to say thank you!
5. What is in store for your members this year?
This year we are partnering with the hosts of the MER Conference (Managing Electronic Records). The MER Conference has held annually in Chicago for 27 years, and is a well-respected event in the records and information management industry. Our chapter is helping to bring MER to the West Coast with a full day of education and networking.
Aside from our normal monthly educational meetings, we will continue to expand our roundtable sessions. The roundtables are more relaxed than our other meetings and allow attendees to ask questions, share experiences, and sometimes “vent” frustrations to others who can sympathize.
6. How have you been able to utilize StarChapter to run the ARMA Greater Los Angeles chapter and reach its goals?
In the past we have gone through many website iterations. Some of them were in HTML and required extensive programming knowledge to maintain. Others, while easier to manage, required us to use a variety of platforms to meet our requirements, such as Wordpress, Eventbrite, Paypal, and MailChimp.
StarChapter makes it easy to manage our site, post new content, and reach out to our members. Not only does it provide a website, marketing, emailing, event planning, reporting, and payment capabilities all in one, it is easy to use even for those that are not tech savvy.
We haven’t even used all of our StarChapter capabilities, although we are planning to do more later this year. We hope that the blog and newsletter features enable us to add more value to our members. We want our website to be a resource where people can help each other and share ideas, as well as network and enhance their career.