The Secret Sauce for Successful Chapters


By Marcie Christensen
DFW Education Coordinator

Cari Class started her DFW chapter in Santa Cruz, CA, nearly six years ago. “That same passion for what we’re doing as an organization, which just rocks my world and gives me a deep sense of purpose in my life, is no less vibrant today than the day I started,” says Class, whose energetic presentation drew cheers and applause from conference attendees.

Santa Cruz has three thriving chapters that “collaborate and cross-pollinate” to keep DFW interesting and intriguing for leaders and members alike. Class claims the “secret sauce to creating successful chapters where the load is shared by many” is to allow the passion you feel for DFW to flow through you.

downloads Download the presentation: Best Practices to Keep Your Chapter Vibrant


The Santa Cruz chapters have fully engaged, committed, full-throttle members who love helping out and are continually introducing new folks to DFW. They have a sense of ownership and place and loyalty to their chapters. “Belonging is a basic human need,” said Class, “As an organization, we have the capability to fulfill that need through our chapters.”

According to Class, the beauty of DFW is that we have:

  • The foundation of superior program selection—done for us.
  • The support of excellent educational materials.
  • The autonomy to create meeting styles as we see fit that resonate with our own members, which is a catalyst for unleashing creativity in our leaders.

Class shared some best practices of the chapters in several categories:

Activities: MeetUps are a great way to get the word out to your community. Organizing social events outside of meetings and attending local fundraisers for other organizations serves to answer that question we’ve all been asked, “do you contribute locally?”. And the answer is “Well, as an organization our focus is the developing world, but as individuals we do a LOT to benefit our community”.

Speakers: If there isn’t a speaker from the featured organization near you, tapping into local organizations, colleges and ethnic restaurants can yield speakers from the country of origin who would be delighted to share with your chapter.

Fundraisers: Consider an annual fundraiser. In December, the Santa Cruz chapters host a Tri-Chapter meeting and fundraiser for the 13th Month campaign.

Sustainability: Engage your members. Share the load. Recruit your successor. If members are not stepping up or volunteering, call them and ask directly for the help you need. “The way I look at it,” said Class, “it’s not an inconvenience, but spreads the joy and ensures active, engaged members.

“I see the world differently now,” says Class. “And I’ve been able to steward others in my community to understand the same things I have come to know. Educate a girl, empower a woman and we really can change the world. This is such a powerful truth!”

During the discussion that followed, attendees brainstormed ideas in three general categories: How to keep meetings interesting, encouraging members to be more engaged and keeping yourself as a leader fueled and inspired. Those ideas are being shared as thought-starters for groups throughout DFW.

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