The Executive - November/December 2018 - 15

chapter, it was thriving, and two of the
three executive board members who
were given free memberships stayed on
and agreed to pay their dues.
2. Strategic Planning as a
Collaborative Effort
From the outside looking in, the
chapter in this story seemed to have
more than its share of collegiality and
camaraderie. At meetings, certain
members were always poking fun at
one another and making "in-jokes."
While the group's inner circle enjoyed
the vibe, a lot of the other members
and first-time visitors found it offputting and even objectionable.
Complaints began to get back to the
leader, who had been the driving force
in establishing the group's culture.
To his credit, the leader recognized
that he was at the center of the
problem, and together we decided
he needed to step down and turn the
group over to his vice-president.
In a brave move, he announced his
resignation in a very dramatic and
surprising fashion: he sprung the
turnover on the group at the start of
their next meeting and turned over
the reigns right then and there. The
VP (now the new leader) immediately
called for a candid and open
discussion about the group's culture,
direction and need for change.
Everyone was given a chance to speak,
complain, suggest and share his or
her views. Out of the discussion they
arrived at the objective of "making
this the group everyone wants to be
a part of," and to do that each person
agreed to "be the member they'd like
to see in the room."
Every single comment and
suggestion was written on a white
board at the front of the room.
Spontaneously, what emerged out of
the discussion turned into a strategic
planning session. A couple of the
members had experience working
on strategic plans, and they led the
group through the exercise of setting
goals for the chapter, creating a road
map for success, setting milestones
and timetables, and outlining each
member's roles and responsibilities.
Making it a group effort ensured
everyone's buy-in. They created
committees, and every single member
agreed to be part of one or more.
Over the next several meetings they

brainstormed various tactics for bringing
in and on-boarding new members,
organizing different types of events, and
keeping the momentum going.
This process and collaboration
resulted in the members really bonding
in a way that they couldn't have
imagined before, and they became a
much more cohesive chapter. There
was no longer any need for forced
collegiality-now the camaraderie was
real. And when prospective members
visited the chapter, they were eager
to join. The chapter and their process
became a model for other chapters in
the organization.
3. Membership Assessment-
Getting Inside the Minds of
Members
There were three chapters in a large
geographic region that were founded
at the same time. Two were doing fine,
but the third one was floundering,
and the regional director wasn't sure
why: all three were overseen by the
same staff, had the same meeting
format, offered similar presentations
and events, and attracted the same
type of members. Although the
troubled chapter served the largest
pool of prospective members, it was
the smallest in size and had the most
difficulty growing.
Both the regional director and the
CEO had made some assumptions
about what the issues might be, but
they weren't really sure what was
going on. So when one of their sponsors
threatened to pull out, they were
motivated to get to the root of the
problem.
I suggested a telephone survey
to talk directly with their members
and sponsors and ask them what was
working, what wasn't working, and
what they thought the organization
could do to serve their needs better.
One objective was to find out where
the gaps were between how the
organization perceived their value
proposition and how the members
viewed it. And upon learning that, we
would be able to develop some new
messaging and more a compelling way
to communicate the relevant member
benefits to use in marketing.
A second, less obvious objective
was to show the members that their
opinions mattered, and that the
organization cared about them. This

initiative would ultimately pave the
way for a membership drive.
Our research uncovered some
interesting and unexpected results.
It turned out that while the members
loved the monthly presentations by
experts on topics relevant to their
industry, what they craved was more
interactivity and greater opportunities
to mingle, meet and network with one
another. When they joined, they'd had
an expectation that they would be
encouraged to share information and
resources and create connections with
one another, but in actuality the chapter
was more event and information
focused than relationship-focused.
Once we knew what was missing we
knew what had to be done and, based
on suggestions that came directly from
the members themselves, we developed
programs and initiatives to deliver
more of what they were looking for.
Six months afterwards I checked in
with the regional director. She reported
that their most recent meeting had seen
the best turnout in the group's history,
and they had added 12 new members,
surpassing their goal of 10.
These stories illustrate three
different approaches to rebuilding,
rebranding or reinventing a problem
chapter. It takes leadership, initiative,
and the buy-in of a few key members,
but if any of those signs of life are there,
it may not be necessary to pull the
plug and shut the chapter down. When
members and staff are able to step up
and take a hard and honest look at the
specific issues that are causing the
problems, there's a good chance that the
effort of coming together to solve them
will result in a successful turnaround.
Deborah Rodney is a membership
and marketing expert whose current
role is National Membership Manager
for the NASPP (National Association
of Stock Plan Professionals). Until she
joined NASPP's staff earlier this year,
she was the principal consultant at
Membership Resources, working with
associations to get, keep, support and
engage their members. She also spent
six years as Member Relations Director
for ProVisors, a national professional
organization for senior level trusted
advisors. The stories in this article are
all actual case histories drawn from
her experiences.

C a l S A E ' s TH E E X E C UTI VE - N O VE M BE R/ DE C E M BE R 2 0 1 8

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The Executive - November/December 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Executive - November/December 2018

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: CalSAE Still in the Middle of Its Story By Jim Anderson, CAE
AT A GLANCE BY THE NUMBERS: Understanding Gen Z as They Enter the Workforce
AT A GLANCE BLOG SPOT: The Importance of Virtual Meetings
AT A GLANCE TECH TOOLS: Prioritize Your Association’s Technology Needs
AT A GLANCE CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Want Successful Marketing Campaigns? Don’t Leave Emotions at the Door
A Tale of Three Chapters: Rebuild, Rebrand or Reinvent
Don’t Let These Communication Culprits Derail Your Content
Is Your Communication Keeping Up with Leadership Evolutions?
Embrace Your Personal Brand— And Make it Work for You
DESTINATION: Wining-and-Dining in Style in Northern California
NEW MEMBERS
INDEX TO ADVERTISERS
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Laura Calderon Rivera
The Executive - November/December 2018 - Intro
The Executive - November/December 2018 - cover1
The Executive - November/December 2018 - cover2
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 3
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 4
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 5
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 6
The Executive - November/December 2018 - PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: CalSAE Still in the Middle of Its Story By Jim Anderson, CAE
The Executive - November/December 2018 - AT A GLANCE CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 9
The Executive - November/December 2018 - Want Successful Marketing Campaigns? Don’t Leave Emotions at the Door
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 11
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 12
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 13
The Executive - November/December 2018 - A Tale of Three Chapters: Rebuild, Rebrand or Reinvent
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 15
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 16
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 17
The Executive - November/December 2018 - Don’t Let These Communication Culprits Derail Your Content
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 19
The Executive - November/December 2018 - Is Your Communication Keeping Up with Leadership Evolutions?
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 21
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 22
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 23
The Executive - November/December 2018 - Embrace Your Personal Brand— And Make it Work for You
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 25
The Executive - November/December 2018 - 26
The Executive - November/December 2018 - DESTINATION: Wining-and-Dining in Style in Northern California
The Executive - November/December 2018 - NEW MEMBERS
The Executive - November/December 2018 - INDEX TO ADVERTISERS
The Executive - November/December 2018 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Laura Calderon Rivera
The Executive - November/December 2018 - cover3
The Executive - November/December 2018 - cover4
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