Achieving global gender equality cannot be accomplished alone – and neither can running this organization or sustaining your chapter. Planning for the future of your chapter and sharing chapter responsibilities are key factors in maintaining successful Together Women Rise chapters. At our National Chapter Leader Event on Oct 16, we discussed best practices for continuity planning and inviting members into leadership roles.
Leadership turnover in Together Women Rise chapters is normal! Things change over time. Chapter leaders may move out of the area, they may retire and begin traveling frequently, they may start new jobs or focus their time on other priorities. That happens to all of us at some point in our lives. But if a chapter isn’t prepared for these changes, it may lead to the chapter closing – even when many of the members are still interested in meeting. Right now, about 71% of our chapters do not have a plan for continuing the chapter if their leader leaves.
At the same time, the majority of our chapters already have members who are lending a helping hand (58%), and almost all of our chapters share presenting and hosting responsibilities (85%). This means members are actively involved, and there is plenty of opportunity to invite members into positions of leadership, or at least start conversations within your chapter about planning for the future.
How some chapters have succeeded in planning for the future:
ID, Boise-1: Chapter Leader Jane Gennrich has a co-leader (Elaine Daly) as well as a leadership council, where five members meet a few times a year to talk about different roles and responsibilities in the group.
DE, Wilmington-1: Sally Barclay’s chapter has created a culture of shared ownership, where everyone is involved and rotates through different tasks. One of her members, Annette Hearing, even presented for the chapter at our national event.
OH, Hudson-1: Chapter Leader Tamara Peterson recruited her daughter, Rachel, as a co-leader and created additional roles, including treasurer, educational presenters, and public relations person, to tackle the different responsibilities of chapter continuity and growth.
PA, Abington-1: Long time co-leaders, Mary Liz Jones and Debbie Britt, slowly started to ask their members for help with hosting tasks, eventually appointing members as menu coordinator and chapter leaders in training.
During our recent Chapter Leader event, we heard about the importance of teamwork and empowering members to actively participate in strengthening this amazing community.
More recommendations on strengthening your chapter’s future:
Recruit a co-leader – or two. Instead of asking the whole group who might be interested, identify a few people who you think are engaged and may be a good fit, and ask them directly.
Create a sign-up sheet for members to host, present, send out invitations, or handle donations.
Consider different leadership models by setting term limits for the chapter leader role, rotating responsibilities every month, or establishing a committee.
Find alternate meeting locations. You can lessen the burden on a host by meeting at a community space, park, or even a local restaurant.
Take time during your meetings to discuss “what if scenarios,” including what would happen if you no longer were the chapter leader.
Ask someone in your chapter to check-in with members on your roster who haven’t attended in a while. They may now have more time and want to re-engage.
Consider whether eating/food is necessary for your chapter model. It may lighten the load if people are not interested in that anymore.
Be flexible with meeting times and regularity. Meeting every month may not be the best fit for your group, or modify the time you meet based on weather/time of year.
Remember, you are not alone. Your Regional Leader or Mentor can answer questions and support you, and our Home Office staff are available to provide resources. Thank you for all you do, and please continue to reach out to us and find unity within your communities – both big and small.
Kia can be reached at email@example.com.