Thinking about reviving a chapter? Check out these tips!

Reviving a Chapter

Maintaining a successful chapter is a difficult task.  Any chapter should always attract new members, find new community service projects and volunteer opportunities, and maintain a professional aspect through workshops.  If the members become less active, the chapter will slowly start to fade.  What, then?  A motivated member needs to revive a chapter.

Reviving a chapter takes a lot of work—and the longer it has been inactive, the harder it will be to restart.  The first step is planning.  Dealing with logistics should be your starting point.  For example, does your chapter constitution need to be revised? Are you considered an “active” organization at your college or university?  Financial planning is also crucial for a new up-and-coming chapter.  Chapters that have been inactive for any amount of time may have limited funds.  In this case, it is important to apply for a SOAR or CLASS grant.  Pay careful attention to the due dates of the application!  If the SVEA chapter has a bank account, it might be inactive or frozen if it has not been used in some time.  Schedule a meeting with the chapter’s bank to ensure that the account is active.  Furthermore, you need to have a rough idea of what you want to do each month of the year.  As you create a calendar of events, make sure to spread out socials, volunteer activities, and professional development activities throughout the months.
Potential volunteer work requires special planning. It is important to establish relationships with potential community service agencies and coordinate events for members to attend well in advance.  Members of the Student Virginia Education Association LOVE kids, so make sure the projects involve kids! Also, if there is any memorabilia that needs to be ordered, do it during the planning stage.  The University of Virginia chapter had to revive its chapter in the fall of 2012. Before the school year even started, the co-presidents did all the planning together, drafted the SOAR grant together, and ordered all memorabilia such as cups, pencils, silly bands, and t-shirts.

After planning out the year, the new goal is to attract members; a chapter is worthless without motivated members.  Conduct numerous membership drives, advertise, speak at education classes, and make a website: do anything to get the name “SVEA” out there.  This year at the University of Virginia many steps were taken just to attract new members.  The first action taken involved conducting a fall membership drive.  The co-presidents attended the Activities Fair to pass out flyers (which were drafted during the planning stage) and offer future members to sign-up to receive more information.  Another way to gain members is though advertisement.  Be aware of how your campus advertises.  For example, at the University of Virginia, students often chalk the sidewalk and hang a bed sheet in the amphitheater so students walking by will notice.  However, if your school usually advertises through fliers, find the best spots to hang them on campus!

Once potential members have shown interest, the next step is to reel them in.  The best way to do this is to make the meetings fun.  Do not spend one hour lecturing them; the members will be miserable.  The keys to a great meeting are food and games.  Food is the best way to draw members to a meeting, so make sure the members know food will be provided!  In the beginning of every meeting, play a few icebreaker games that will get the members energized and excited.  At the end of every meeting, have a raffle (this is a good way to make sure members will stay until the end of the meeting).  These steps can ensure that every chapter knows how to entice and excite members.

The final step is to keep the members active and involved.  This is tricky, because not every member has a lot of time to devote. Make sure your chapter offers many volunteer opportunities with a range of time commitments.  As previously mentioned, it is best to have opportunities that involve kids because all future teachers love children!  To keep members active, follow the steps of keeping a meeting interesting and create bonding opportunities for members through socials!  The closer the members are, the stronger the club. Although volunteer work is an important part, the SVEA is still a professional organization.  Provide the members with workshops that interest them.  While you are completing all the aforementioned steps, keep the records organized in your chapter standards binder, and be sure to bring the binder to the convention in the spring! 

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