By Susan Prener, Co-Leader of our Northeast Region and member of our Chapter Health and Retention Committee
As we shared in last month’s issue, chapter health and retention is very important. We want all our chapters to stay healthy, active, and engaged long into the future. Our volunteer Chapter Health and Retention Committee is focusing on best practices for chapter longevity and sharing these practices with you through a series of monthly blogs. Our goal is to bolster existing chapters, even as we grow more chapters throughout the country. This month we are talking about the importance of holding regular chapter meetings and the challenge of winter weather!
We know that one of the keys to a healthy, engaged chapter is to hold regular chapter meetings. Chapter meetings not only provide an opportunity to educate members and raise funds for our mission, they also build a sense of community and foster connections between members and the women and girls we support.
That is why we encourage all chapters to meet on a regular, monthly basis. We have found that chapters are most successful when they choose a certain day of the week and week of the month to meet (i.e. third Thursday of the month). In this way, your members put it on their calendars each month, and it becomes a regular part of their schedule. With the start of a New Year, this is a great time to set and share your meeting schedule for the whole year!
Of course, despite all our best efforts to meet regularly, there is one factor we cannot control – the weather! I know all about tricky weather living near Rochester, New York and Lake Ontario. Have you heard of lake effect snow? That is what we face every winter: the unpredictable snow machine grinding away over the Great Lakes.
Three days before the Rochester, New York January meeting, the forecast was for 8-12 inches of snow beginning at rush hour that night. Co-leaders Barbara Quine-Moran and Linda Meagher made the early decision to cancel the meeting, their ﬁrst such cancellation in 6 years! Safety concerns and respect for their members drove their decision. They wanted to give their members, who otherwise would have shopped for supplies or prepared a meal, as much notice as possible.
When it comes to inclement weather, member safety should always come first and foremost. Here are some tips to help you manage your chapter through the unpredictable weather in winter (and sometimes even in the spring) and keep the momentum going with all your members:
- Have a cancellation policy for the winter months.
- Be sure to reschedule the meeting date if you need to cancel.
- If you live in winter climes where it gets darker earlier, change to an earlier meeting time.
- If your members are far-ﬂung, you can always elect to Skype, use FreeConferenceCall.com, or an online PowerPoint presentation. If you like this idea, and need assistance, we can help.
- If you absolutely must miss a meeting, encourage your members to contribute online.
- Encourage your members to sign up for monthly automatic withdrawal or recurring contributions. Our grantees and partners depend on our contributions all year long!
Our thoughts are with chapters who have been affected by the many weather-related disasters this year especially in Texas, Florida, and California!