The Power of Your Board
A chapter is only as strong as the leaders that guide activities and inspire membership participation. An ineffectual board is a chapter’s worst nightmare. In spite of this, recent studies show that an increasing percentage of association board members believe their fellow volunteers lack experience and simply aren’t grasping their chapter’s mission or goals, let alone how they fit into the national structure. On top of this, more than 70% of associations don’t have a succession plan in place for when the current board is scheduled to retire.
While it is true that many chapters work with limited resources, there are five actions you can take right now to shape your board’s effectiveness and increase chapter success overall.
1. Set goals and make a plan for your chapter.
Having clear goals laid out is essential for success. Visualize positive outcomes and then build the path to reach them. Take the time to work with the board and other volunteers to outline each step for instituting a plan. Be sure to communicate chapter goals with the appropriate audience to maintain accountability. And share with all members key aspects via your chapter newsletter.
2. Evaluate (and reevaluate) the goals you have set.
Periodically review what you are doing and why you are doing it. Survey the membership, and address the needs of those who attend but don’t respond to surveys. Be creative in how you measure the results. Keep reassessing your outcomes until you find the path that works best for your chapter.
3. Education and training is a must for board effectiveness.
Even with the best plan laid out, action can fall flat without the appropriate education and training. Board members and other chapter administrators should have a clear understanding of the association benefits at both the national and chapter level. Regular training with chapter leadership ensures they know how to do their job and are putting all their talents to good use for the chapter. But don’t forget about the general membership. Offering education and training to all members is essential, as you don’t know who will be inspired to step up and lead next.
4. Hold early elections for the next year.
For successful transition of the board, training begins long before the new board takes over. Training can include formal sessions, webinars through StarChapter, or shadowing current board members in the same role. Preparing the board early, and continually even after the transition, ensures that everyone knows their role in the chapter structure.
5. Regularly recruit and engage members.
Chapter success dependents on membership building and not just who sits on the board. Be creative in recruitment. Engage both prospects and current members with exciting activities that keep them coming back and potentially wanting to join the board themselves.
As a community of like-minded and talented members, working together is the only solution to achieve board effectiveness. By building a plan, executing it with openness to change, continual training, early elections, and a focusing on engaged members, board members and volunteers can realize success for their chapter without over-taxing their resources.
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