The task of running your chapter as a team of volunteers may seem daunting at first, but with good leadership, delegation and a shared vision for where you want to go, working to achieve TU’s mission in your local community can be rewarding and fun! There’s so much to cover that we highly recommend reviewing the TU Volunteer Leadership Manual, but below are some of the basics and best practices for running an effective and impactful chapter.
Define Your Goals & Measure Your Progress
There’s nothing more powerful than having a vision and plan for what you hope to accomplish and if your chapter does not already have one, or hasn’t updated it in some time, developing a strategic plan is a good place to start the process of getting everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Your plan doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective, but it should set some clear goals, identify some measurable outcomes and define what resources – of time, talent and treasure – you need to accomplish those goals and achieve the outcomes.
Build & Empower Your Team
As a chapter officer, you will have the benefit of arriving with a number of volunteers already in place and the opportunity to recruit and attract new leaders to help you achieve your strategic plan goals. The goals you set will determine the number of people you’ll need and the skills and expertise of those volunteers. Once you know what you need to accomplish and what skills you need to get there, you can begin to recruit and train the volunteers who will help make it happen.
Pay Attention to Details & Good Governance
The correlation is clear, chapters that focus on good governance, ensure the council and chapters are following all required policies and suggested best practices, and dedicate time and attention to effective communications, member engagement and volunteer leader mentoring and support are able to accomplish more together. This runs the gamut from ensuring your chapter files its required financial and IRS reports and regularly reviewing chapter bylaws, to actively and frequently communicating directly with all volunteer in your chapter, as well as the membership in general. See Important TU Policies and Risk Management & Financial Controls
Manage Relationships & Foster Collaboration
TU was founded and grew in early years as a disconnected group of local chapters with volunteers working to restore and protect the streams they love. Our understanding of the importance of watershed-scale and landscape-scale work has evolved and we now know that the strongest and most effective chapters are ones where working across borders in collaboration with other chapters on everything from habitat projects to state-wide advocacy takes place on a regular basis. Helping build those relationship among neighboring chapter leaders – which can be as simple as inviting a fellow officer fishing – is a good first step to developing partnerships which will serve your chapter, and the rivers you love, well into the future.