People from campaigning backgrounds all have very different origin stories. Many will have helped a local politician door knock, leaflet drop, fundraise or gain some kind of sizable following (fingers crossed). Others will have been bitten by the campaigning and organizing bug through a social justice campaign or maybe a community initiative. What is most interesting about the resumé of people who identify as organizers are these varied stepping stone approaches to success.
One such way to keep evolving as a campaigner is to officially join an organisation, put your money where your mouth is, pay membership and levy change internally!
The exciting way these organizations or parties are managing themselves is why they are becoming attractive to new members again and that is something called ‘chapter management’.
What is chapter management?
Chapter management is a widely used term and you guessed it, it’s for managing small branches or chapters of larger organisations or networks. It’s much more than a boring definition however, it actually helps put a bit more personality into your local chapter and retain the priorities of your members first. Smaller branches can establish their own individual identity while still being a part of something much larger.
One Irish charity that does chapter management very well is Pieta House, through their Darkness into Light campaigns. Even though they run campaigns worldwide, each city or town will have its own committee which runs its own chapter and its campaign. It has seen huge funds raised collectively but each committee works at the discretion of their branch and oftentimes it produces really unique ways of growing. Darkness Into Light has a very high retention of members and supporters because people can relate to the organisers much easier and also see the benefits much closer to home.
So how can organizations help local chapters organize effectively?
Make them feel empowered
Being part of any organization means you all have to use shared language when communicating your goals and mission and need a basic understanding of the principles of the org. Knowledge is power so ensure your local operatives are trained in these elements and are broadly aligned on the organizational mission.
By unlocking the potential of your local organizers, you will quickly discover that your grassroots are your greatest asset with a wealth of skills, expertise and passion that can drive your mission forward. Give them a resource-filled toolkit to manage supporters and run campaigns offline and online that can build a community.
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Give them the toolkit to organize
Giving autonomy to local leaders is important but it is also necessary to have access to all of the information that they may gather. If you are a wing of a political party, you may have access to the local electorate and want to update voter records through canvassing. Or you may be conducting surveys on areas of improvement in your community. Non- profits may be onboarding new donors or members. All this information is critical to project outcomes but it is also sensitive. These secure tech platforms are essential in making sure these projects are run in a transparent and structured way. Ensure your team has access to a dashboard CRM or database that they can update regularly. Chapter instances of a database should sync to a HQ CRM in order to align information across the organization. The great thing about working on the cloud is that everything is immediate and with time being so precious we have no excuses!
Support their ambitious nature
Local chapters want to meet milestones, each year, each project is a challenge. Being able to set targets is important, it helps morale and is an appealing feature for new members. People always want to feel a part of something that is making a change.
Having ambitious goals in your local chapter can actually rub off on other chapters, spurring each other on and learning from each other. Remember everyone has the same mission, but each chapter may take a different route to get there!
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