Sharing Best Practices: Building Community in Your Chapters
By Betty Purkey Huck, Rocky Mountain Regional Leader and Chair of the Chapter Health and Retention Committee
Each month in this newsletter, we’ve been giving you ideas on how to make your chapter more active, vibrant, and sustainable — things like trying a new location for your meetings, changing the food, or making the meeting time more convenient for your members. Now we’re going to look at another aspect of making your chapter more sustainable: building community in your chapters.
When you have your meetings, how much time do to take to get to know one another or just chat? In some chapters, everyone knows all the other members very well, but this is not always the case. Perhaps you might want to spend time building community both during and outside your meetings. Why not see if someone in your chapter will volunteer to be the “social mentor”. Most chapters have someone who loves to socialize. They could make sure new members are assimilated into the chapter and that all members are given a chance to be involved. They could also make sure that all members’ birthdays are remembered as well as weddings, births of babies and grandbabies, and other important occasions for members.
Some chapters enjoy spending leisure time outside the meeting together. The Denver-5 chapter occasionally has a movie night outside the time of their chapter meeting. In Santa Cruz, California the three chapters collaborate and cross-pollinate by allowing members to attend any one of the three meetings. They also organize social events outside the meetings, like attending local fundraisers for other organizations which is a great way to contribute locally. They have movies, as well as other activities too.
Why not think about pursuing ways to build community in your chapter by engaging members more in the meetings and the running of the chapter. Besides having them help with the invites, presentation, hosting and other tasks, be sure and have a lively discussion during your chapter meetings. There are always three discussion questions in this newsletter and in the monthly Project Fact Sheets. This will help keep DFW intriguing and interesting and create a more loyal membership which means a more vibrant, sustainable chapter.