Every member deserves the chance to learn, grow and take on new roles. Following are a few of the methods we recommend for developing your members and, thus, your chapter’s full potential.
Give Everyone a Job
Really, everyone. Having a role in the success of the chapter makes members more invested. Don’t let the roles stagnate. Change it up. Maybe not every year but at least every five. Don’t let someone become overburdened or burnt out. In addition to the elected officers (see Officer Guidelines), fill Key Roles and trainees for filling each Key Role next. Beyond that, what about official greeter, the person that visits people in the hospital or sets up the meeting room?
Recruiting members with appropriate skills to fill key roles is vital to your chapter’s long-term success. Following are some suggestions that other chapters have found useful. Feel free to combine, exclude and change these as fits your chapter. Once you fill the roles useful for your chapter, give them someone to train to replace them.
Amtryke Team. The Amtryke Team is often made up of several knowledgeable individuals. Sometimes one person wears several hats.
- Orderer. Places Amtryke orders with the ARC online or via phone or email. They act as the expert on Amtryke products and are familiar with the Amtrykestore.org. Maintains request forms, liability and photo waiver document sets. Keeps the treasurer informed of orders.
- Mechanic. Takes the lead in building and maintaining Amtrykes. Training for those interested in becoming or fine tuning their skills as an Amtryke Mechanic is available through AMBUCS University: Mechanics training at National Conference in the fall.
- Member Evaluating Therapist(s). Assess the capabilities of applicants and fit kids and veterans to trykes – especially at events when their own therapist cannot be there. Those interested in becoming a certified Amtryke Evaluating Therapist can attend an Amtryke Evaluation and Fitting Training (AEFT) for Therapists.
- Liaison with therapy/health professionals. Keeps your chapter’s relationship with your non-member referring therapists strong by keeping the lines of communication open. Need help training your chapter’s evaluating therapists? Schedule a Road Show visit or AEFT.
Scholars. The Scholars person builds and maintains your chapter’s relationship with allied health educators at local universities. They make the educators and their students aware of our Scholarship program as well as screen student applications and make recommendations for chapter sponsorship to the board. They will also help direct students to appropriate volunteer opportunities with the chapter.
Public Relations. The Public Relations person publishes your chapter newsletter either (or both) electronically or via hard copy. They manage your chapter’s social media and website presence. They reach out to the media when your chapter puts the AMBUCS mission into action and communicates about your chapter to funding sources and other chapter members. They also submit stories about your chapter’s mission-based activities to the Marketing Director at the ARC for possible inclusion in the AMBUCS Magazine or facebook.
Fundraising Team. The fundraising team works together to raise the funds needed to carry out your chapter’s work in the community. These are the two key skill sets you’ll want to recruit:
- Grant Writer. Researches local corporate and foundation grant opportunities and then writes and submits them. Keep in mind that the staff Development Director is available to help identify opportunities and fine tune your efforts. Please see the Fundraising section.
- Community Liaison. Reaches out to community leaders and local businesses to invite them to become a part of our mission via financial or other types of support (such as funding a tryke, building it and hosting the giveaway). You may want to ask leaders with strategic skills to serve on your board.
Event Planner. The event planner works on the nuts-and-bolts level to plan events, pulling together and delegating responsibilities to members. They should work closely with the fundraising team to put on great fundraising events and also plan some fun chapter events or “socials.” Whether it’s a formal affair or a potluck, spending fun time together socially will build stronger bonds.
Big Hat Club (BHC)
The Big Hat Club is an elite club within the organization and also within participating chapters.
In order to qualify, a member must recruit three new members in a 12-month period. If you accept the honor of membership, you will agree to pay $10 in annual BHC dues. You will receive a distinctive western style hat and be invited to exclusive events at Regional Training Conference and National Conference.
The club exists to take membership recruitment, fundraising and fun to a whole new level. Visit the website to learn more about BHC history, mission and bylaws.
Regional Training Conference
Encourage your members, especially officers and those filling the Key Roles for your chapter, to attend your Regional Training Conference in the spring. Where possible, think about financially helping those who want to go. Educating your most engaged members greatly benefits your chapter.
Each Regional Training Conference includes chapter officer training and many chances to share great ideas with other successful chapters in your part of the country.
AMBUCS National Conference
National Conference is Regional Training Conference writ large. It offers more of everything, all in four days in the fall (September or October). Again, please encourage your officers and Key Roles people to attend. Support them financially, if you can and if it means the difference between an on-fire member getting to attend or not. Attendees will return to the chapter invigorated, inspired and equipped.
Each National Conference includes in-depth training in successfully running a chapter and Amtryke program as well as many chances to share great ideas with other successful chapters in your part of the country. There are also two wonderful mission-based events: The Great Amtryke Giveaway (where about 30 local children and 15 local Veterans receive Amtrykes) and Trek 4 Trykes a walk-a-thon to fund trykes for kids waiting on the National Wish List. And much more, of course!
Chapter Revitalization Case Study
Old Club, New Vitality
Vitality – The Power or Ability of Something to Continue to Live, Be Successful, etc.
The Savannah, GA chapter was founded in 1941. After seven decades it was just plodding along. Membership was dwindling and its community impact had stagnated. In just a few short years, however, the chapter turned around and became strong, vital and growing. It more than tripled membership, fundraising and giving.
- Went from four chapter meetings month to two meetings a month and to shorter meetings with more substance.
- All members encouraged to express ideas and given a stake in the chapter’s success.
- Involved long-standing members in important but often overlooked ways like greeting people, making everyone feel welcome, serving food, etc. Everyone wants to feel useful. We simply asked them what they wanted to do.
- Appointed member of local media to our Board of Directors. He helps with press releases and media exposure. He tells the story in the way the media is looking for. After you have given away a few bikes, the bike is no longer the story. The media wants something to bite on. i.e. “Real Winner at Football Game is Boy from Darien with CP” or ” Vision Problem won’t keep this girl from riding a bike.”
- Chapter created new events like Le Tour De AMTRYKE where riders ride bikes, get tune ups, and have fun. And added BOWLAPALOOZA (celebrity bowling championship) as a very successful fundraiser to their 50-year-old bowling league for people who are differently-abled.
- We ramped up our participation in the Amtryke Program.
Tips for Changing Gracefully
Communication. Often we get frustrated and want to force our opinions on others because we think they are in the best interest of the group. People want to be respected and heard. Remember as kids the more we were TOLD what to do or not to do the harder we fought to do the opposite.
Talking with people (as opposed to talking at) allows open dialogue and exchange of ideas. It allows long-serving members to know they are valued not being tossed aside.
Don’t Demand, Give Reasons for Change. Similarly, when suggesting ideas don’t demand change, show how it benefits the chapter and everyone in it. When you give members valid reasons to change, they will usually go with it. Sometimes reluctantly, but they will go.
Intertwine history with moving ahead. No group is where it is without a past. Appreciate the past. Ask long-serving members to share stories and record them. Ask them to take you to a place where the chapter made a difference. Treasure history! It is why your chapter is where it is today.
Be willing to do what you’re asking. If I am asking for change, am I willing to be part of it? I have to be willing to do my part. I can’t just ask for others to change. Am I doing or just asking?
Where is the passion? We were passionate when we joined AMBUCS. Where is the passion now? How do we reignite it? Look for ways you can make a difference. That’s what kindles the passion – making a difference. Sit with a new member. Put together a storybook of your chapter. Ask members old and new to give you an AMBUCS story. Ask a long-serving member to tell a story and see their eyes light up and value to group increases! We MUST bring passion to expect passion from others.
Find a job for every member. When each member has a job, it is self-evident to everyone why they have value. It also cements the member to the chapter when they feel needed and vital. See the section on Key Roles above. Fill all those up and create more. Don’t neglect the older members. Have someone be greeter for the event, meeting and even at each table. When doing a fundraiser ask long-serving members what connections they have. They might not have energy they had, but they are still a precious resource. If you don’t use it, you lose it!
Refocus the group. We get caught in a rut of “this worked for years.” Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it is working now. Younger people are busier and have less time. Do you need four meetings? Maybe not. Use time wisely! People want to do things not just talk about it! What is our value to community? Focus on bringing that value to the community and members will come and stay.
New Ideas, Old Input. An example… Savannah AMBUCS sponsored a weekly bowling league for 50 years, in order to continue we needed to offset costs ($15,000 / year). We came up with a new fundraiser called BOWLAPALOOZA. We decided to use the bowling alley like a golf course. Solicit sponsors. Our older members felt it was imperative we keep our bowlers involved. By listening and involving our bowlers, our members felt appreciated and bowlers and sponsors love it! Our bowlers bowl on sponsored teams.
Last year we raised over $85,000! Most of the chapter volunteers on the day of the event. The new event is successful not just in fundraising but also in honoring history and all members.
It is important to ask members for input. Don’t ignore…ENCOURAGE!
Work with civic groups. Remember our roots. We were a civic group once and we still have a lot in common. Offer the other groups the opportunity to be a short-term part of your on-going mission-based project. They could choose a kid, fundraise for the tryke, build it and then host the giveaway – maybe once a year or even as their one project for a single full year. Be sure the group is there for the end result, whether it’s a tryke giveaway or a new home access ramp. There are very few opportunities for a donor to see the final results of their gift and to know that 100% of it went to make it happen. Try the Jaycees (hey, when they age out maybe they’ll join your chapter) and the Rotary, etc. Really, any group could take on the project, from corporate team building to girl scouts.
2015 National Conference Old Chapter, New Vitality Educational Session Comments:
“Several new good ideas; wish we’d had more time; good discussions.”
“It was very educational being a new member.”