CHALLENGE #5: LEADERSHIP SUCCESSION
Courtney: Do your chapters struggle with getting their leadership each year?
Brian: That varies by chapter. The newer a chapter is, the more they struggle. A chapter comes together because four, five, or six people really believe in the CoSN mission. They set it up and then have to bring more people into it.
So that’s an area where we can help because if a chapter is two years old, they may not have engaged yet with all their members on a deep enough level to recruit them for leadership. Or, there may be former members who we can welcome back to the fold who might not have known about the chapter because it hasn’t been around long.
Courtney: Yeah, with some of these chapters, if they’re really small, everybody has already been president or served so many roles. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to stay afloat because they only have so many volunteers.
Brian: Absolutely. That’s where things like come in handy. How are you training not just your replacement within the chapter but how are you training your team at work? Are you getting your own team involved in the chapter? How can they become a bigger part of the membership and a part of the volunteer leadership?
CHALLENGE #6: STRENGTHENING TIES WITHIN MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
Courtney: Yeah, trying to get more people from all the different organizations involved.
Courtney: Not just one person. I really believe in that because hopefully if you get more people from the organization that will help with renewals.
Courtney: Because more people are involved and engaged. If you only have one person, that one person leaves and nobody else in the organization has the same commitment or relationship—that makes that renewal hard.
Brian: Yes. I was just having a conversation the other day about this. We send our membership satisfaction survey out to all the individuals who receive member benefits. And if ten people at an organization say “Yes, I’m very likely to renew,” and one person says “No,” you think they’re going to renew. But if that one person is the decision-maker, they’re not.
Courtney: Right. Very good point.
CHAPTERS LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER
Courtney: Do you have any kind of mechanism where chapters can help each other?
Brian: We do. When we find they’re having issues with a particular area or they’re looking to build up a particular area, we say: “Oh, you want to work on advocacy. This chapter is really good at advocacy. Let me introduce you to their chapter leader.” We’ll give them an introduction like that.
Courtney: And then, of course, the face-to-face networking is always helpful.
Brian: Yes. At last year’s chapter event during the annual conference, we had three chapter leaders give ten-minute TED talk-style presentations about things that were affecting them. One was about advocacy. One was about rural district issues. And the other was about building relationships with other organizations.
Then we broke up into five or six different tables with staff and volunteer leaders talking about specific issues, like how to recruit more members. Somebody else was talking about their mentorship program. Another person was talking about advocacy. You could attend two of the table talks about different topics.
Courtney: Is this a one-day event?
Brian: It’s only about half a day. The feedback we’ve been getting was that one day was too long, especially at our conference, which tends to be jam-packed with things for people to do. So we do a four-hour event and then I schedule an additional two hours so they can come to us with questions or talk with people who want to set up chapters in their areas.
INTEGRATING CHAPTERS INTO EVERYTHING COSN DOES
Courtney: One year from now, what do you hope you’ll have accomplished within your chapter network?
Brian: It’s funny you should ask. I just submitted my goals for the year, so these are very fresh in my mind. I want to integrate chapters a bit more into everything we’re doing.
Chapters often have deeper relationships with more members than we do because they’re meeting them on the local level. I think we need to work with chapters more to leverage those relationships. Our chapters are already part of our renewal process, but I want to make them a larger part of our recruitment process as well because it benefits both of us to grow membership.
Courtney: How are you going to integrate chapters more with CoSN and leverage the relationships they have?
Brian: I think it needs to happen at the strategic level. You have to think about how everything fits into the strategic priorities for the year. So if we want to promote our certification more through the chapters, we have to talk to the chapters about it.
- Are there folks at the chapter level who already have it?
- What are the benefits they’re seeing from it?
- How do we work with them to promote it more within their membership?
- Are they willing to host an event that’s around that?
- How can we work together?
Courtney: That’s great.
Courtney: Brian, I can’t thank you enough for helping and doing this Billhighway podcast today. We’ll include your contact information in case people want to follow up and find out about some of the things you’re doing, including the rural chapters and the scorecard.