A Large Chapter’s Guide to the Small Chapter Guide
UNA-USA recently published a Guide to Chapter Management for Small and Rural Chapters, which discussed best practices for creating a close-knit, passionate community of UN advocates. Though this guide was curated for chapters with smaller memberships or chapters in small towns, there are still many useful tips and suggestions that are applicable to larger chapters.
This blog summarizes the key takeaways of the guide specifically for chapter with larger membership or in major cities. We encourage you to reflect on these strategies and implement any new ideas you come across.
Operations and Leadership
One of the most important strategies for chapter operation is simply writing out your chapter’s goals and necessary steps to take to reach those goals. Set broad goals for your chapter as a whole and in addition, set specific goals for each chapter event.
An example of a broad goal is to recruit more youth members, while an example of a specific goal is to facilitate the signing of 50 petitions during an advocacy event.
Goal setting does not have to be a time-consuming or complex process. By simply writing down targets and benchmarks, you are reflecting on the overall purpose of your chapter and its role within your community, which is necessary for chapter growth.
After each event, gather feedback from the attendees to learn what worked well and what did not work well. Doing so will also enlighten the preferences of your members and audience.
If an event was not as successful as planned, consult your members in a collaborative discussion to talk about how to improve for the next event. If your target audience is involved in the planning and improvement process, they may be more inclined to attend the next event in hopes it will thrive. You will also show your members you value their opinions and input.
When approaching leadership transitions, identify potential leaders by their passions. Foster a close relationship with members who are especially passionate about UN advocacy and share your experiences with being a chapter leader.
On the other hand, analyze member’s specific strengths and curate a leadership role, board position, or committee member position according to those interests. This will help distribute the responsibility of chapter management.
Recruitment and Engagement
Diversify Recruitment Strategies
Use a variety of recruitment strategies, from digital to printed to in-person. Study your community and target members to learn how to best reach them.
As a creative strategy for in-person recruitment, visit common gathering places within your community to grow awareness around your chapter and facilitate meaningful, close-knit connections with your community.
Study the general availability of your members and prospective members. If most members are students and working professionals, try to plan events after-hours or on weekend to maximize attendance. At the same time, consider planning a periodic “niche” event to target a more specific audience.
Strive to make meetings and events accessible to all. If community members lack access to Wi-Fi and personal devices, plan more in-person events and activities, and create printable communications materials. For example, rather than assigning members to sign a petition at home, have them sign the petition on-demand during the meeting.
At the same time, virtual events also have an accessibility benefit. Major events that require travel may exclude members who have resource insecurities or members who are physically disabled. Find the right balance between in-person and virtual events to maximize inclusivity.
Consider investing in personal and professional development events or programs. This will incentivize members to join your chapter as they will gain access to something beneficial in return.
Host a new member luncheon every quarter, or pair up new members with current members in coffee chats to acclimate new members to your chapter. By celebrating your new members when they join, they will immediately feel included and want to stay a member of your chapter.
Reach out to local representatives and/or their staff members to talk about your chapter and how it’s involved in the community. Invite members to participate in these discussions so they have the opportunity to articulate their passions for UN advocacy.
Display strong and active leadership to community members. By simply conveying your passions for your chapter and the UN, members will recognize your commitment and want to stand with you.
Collaborate with Your Community
Collaborate with other chapters for special events. Virtual platforms make it easy to connect across long distances. By connecting your members with the broader UNA community, they can witness the ripple effect of widespread UN advocacy.
Education and Awareness
Change the Narrative
Some community members may not have a clear understanding of what the UN is and what the UNA does. Sustain your efforts to shift the dialogue to explain why UN advocacy is important. Continue to stress how advocating for people in other countries does not mean prioritizing their lives over your own.
Research Community Engagement
Identify local organizations and community groups in your community that successfully engage community members (such as a rotary club, cultural society, a church, etc.). Try to learn and study their methods of engagement. Consider partnering with them to boost your chapter’s credibility and presence.
Educate Yourself and Others
Stay in the loop on UN topics or SDGs, as well as their applications in your local community. In addition, consistently relay select international news to your members so they are aware of the global context of the UN.
Consider creating a monthly newsletter (email or printed) that compiles key headlines which you can disseminate to community members.
Above all, you know your chapter the best. One of the most important practices to ensure chapter effectiveness is simply to know your members. By analyzing the situation and preferences of your community, you can make chapter activities more specialized to your members. Remember, the key focus of leading a chapter is ensuring your members are educated, mobilized advocates for the UN.
Click here to access the full Guide to Chapter Management for Small and Rural Chapters.