StarChapter of June: PMI St. Louis

Recognizing volunteer efforts, engaging members in both the local and the national levels, and utilizing the StarChapter software to its fullest have been just a few of the strategies implemented by the leadership of PMI Metro St. Louis chapter of the Project Management Institute. We spoke with Vish Tripathi, the President of PMI Metro St. Louis, and learned why their events usually get an average of 9 out of 10 star reviews, and how in just 2 years, the chapter grew its membership count by 11% and reduced volunteer time. 

1. What was PMI St. Louis chapter’s strategy for engaging new members in the past year?
“PMI Metro St. Louis chapter used several approaches to engage and retain new members. One key strategy was offering a semi-annual "new member orientation" meeting, in which we also distributed new members welcome packages. Board members also attended these meetings to improve engagement with new members by participating in various committees in their area. We also recognized new members during the dinner meetings and weekly emails. In the last 2 years, our membership grew by almost 11% thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and board members.”


2. Tell us about a successful event/meeting you organized last year

“Our chapter volunteers exceeded all expectations by organizing successful events and meetings last year. We had surveyed attendees after each event and the average rating for our events/speakers was usually 9 out of 10 stars. Our premier event was the Annual International Project Management (IPM) Day celebration in November with the IPM Day founder Frank Saladis. Over 180 members, volunteers, and executives attended this event at St. Louis University. The number of attendees in this event grows exponentially every year. Another event worth mentioning was the Volunteers Appreciation evening at D&B, in which we recognized more than 80 volunteers for their efforts.”


3. Do you get ideas on how to improve membership value from other PMI chapters? 

“Yes. Being a 100% volunteers-based organization, we rely on experienced volunteers from our chapter and other PMI chapters. There are few PMI chapters that have fine-tuned their processes and achieved the maturity level we strive to achieve. During the Region 6 meeting, we met with volunteers from 26 other PMI chapters and exchanged ideas and best practices on how to improve membership value. PMI Metro St. Louis chapter always focused on "Membership Excellence" and that's the reason why it has been recognized by PMI National for last 3 years for providing high membership value to its members.”


4. Do you have any tips/advice to share with other board volunteers?  
“Stay engaged and focused! The chapter can only grow when you get involved with members and listen to what they want to get out of their membership. We have found that members are 300% likely to renew their membership if they are involved with the local chapter. Beyond the members, our volunteers are the backbone of the chapter and as such must be recognized and appreciated.”


5. Through a unique integration developed by StarChapter, PMI Metro St. Louis chapter has been sharing membership data with PMI national. What has the chapter been able to accomplish so far? 

“PMI Metro St. Louis was one of the very first chapters to adopt StarChapter and integration of shared membership data with the PMI national. Our experience was very smooth without any interruption. Beyond saving almost $18,000 in last 4-5 years on credit card charges, our chapter was able to automate some of the processes, in turn leading to a 11% increase in membership and saving of volunteer time. Volunteers are now able to focus on setting the strategic goals instead of doing redundant tasks of running the chapter.”


6. How did using StarChapter help you run PMI St. Louis and reach its goals?

“PMI Metro St. Louis Chapter is now able to retain and engage members by using some of the standardized templates StarChapter offers. New members are welcomed every week. Soon-to-be-expired members are easily notified and reminded, while renewing their membership is just in one single click. Meetings are set up in less than 5 minutes and surveys are set up well in advance and are sent automatically to attendees after the event.
We have come a long way as a chapter in last 4-5 years. Some of this success is attributed to StarChapter and its team.”


7. What is in store for the members of PMI Metro St. Louis chapter in 2016?

“Our chapter is all about the project management profession and the community we all live in. 2016 is dedicated to continue improving the "membership excellence" value. Members will have access to a variety of events such as the PMI dinners in regular and alternate locations, with speakers such as Jim Snyder, one of PMI’s founders during our October dinner. For our veterans, we plan to create a Military Liaison position/committee which will help our veterans' transition into the project management profession much easier. Finally, we will be launching the "Free Chapter Guest” program, designed for members of PMI National who are currently not members of our local chapter, to develop inclusion and the project management profession as a whole.” 


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