By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
This month I would like to offer information about the varied functions of the Chapter Services Department, which will wrap up the descriptions I’ve been sharing of each of the national office departments and how they serve FMCA members.
Chapter Services Department staff members have functions that involve all levels of FMCA’s structure. They support the association’s more than 500 chapters, the 10 FMCA areas, the FMCA Governing Board, the Executive Board, national committees, the national secretary, and the national president, in addition to serving members who have yet to become affiliated with a chapter. Plus, Chapter Services Department staff houses, maintains, and updates FMCA’s Constitution, National Bylaws, Member & Volunteer Handbook, Strategic Plan, and other governance documents. They also support the executive director by processing the majority of his official correspondence and assisting him in preparing PowerPoint presentations for the seminars he conducts at conventions and rallies.
Currently, 36 percent of FMCA members belong to a chapter. Of course, we’d love to see this percentage grow, and the good news is we have 508 chapters to choose from. Chapter membership is undoubtedly one of the best benefits FMCA has to offer, and one of the goals of the Chapter Services Department staff is to help spread the word. The staff within this department works with a volunteer liaison from each of FMCA’s 10 areas in an effort to invite the other 64 percent of members to experience all that membership in an FMCA chapter has to offer. We have noted that retention in Family Motor Coach Association is directly associated with being a chapter member “” involvement increases retention.
When chapter members have a question or require assistance, be it a request for a copy of their charter papers, an insurance certificate, or their annual gift option, the Chapter Services Department is the one that fields those calls. Staff members also work with individual chapters in an effort to assist them with recruitment tools so that they can help spread the word about chapter membership while keeping their membership fresh and thriving. This department works with the national secretary to process the annual chapter certification, as required by the Bylaws, which enables each chapter to have a voice in FMCA’s governance.
Proposed chapters are offered assistance by way of a mailing to FMCA members who fit the criteria for the group in an effort to gauge the interest in forming a chapter in a specific area or based on a particular interest. When a chapter is successful in forming, staff members continue to assist through the preparation of the chapter charter and welcome letters, along with necessary guidance materials.
The Chapter Services Department works with the 10 FMCA areas “” the nine geographical areas and the International Area. Their responsibilities include processing family registrations for nine of the 10 area rallies; area rally programs for eight of the 10 area rallies; and commercial registrations for five of the 10 area rallies. These services are offered to all areas but in a menu-type program; in other words, area leaders may utilize any or all of the services provided. This work is done at the direction of area leaders, and the staff members simply serve as facilitators. Under the guidance of the area vice president, they coordinate the development of the rally registration form with FMCA’s graphic artists for inclusion in the magazine and with the webmaster for inclusion on FMCA.com. Chapter Services staff prepare and coordinate the printing of confirmation packets for the majority of these events and make sure the packets are mailed to attendees. They also provide the area with reports and an accounting of funds in order to keep them updated on the status of their area rally.
This department prepares and mails information to the Governing Board, usually on a monthly basis. I am happy to report that it is now possible for chapter officers to opt out of receiving this information via the United States Postal Service and instead to receive an e-mail notification that new information is available by following a corresponding link to the FMCA Web site. This should result in a large savings in postage for FMCA, so we are encouraging chapter officers to consider this option.
Committee meetings take place at the national office in Cincinnati two times per year, and all of the meeting notices and agendas (in conjunction with the national secretary and committee chairmen), the travel arrangements, the room and food setups, the handouts, and the reports are handled by or funneled through this department. The resulting minutes of all of these meetings (again, working in conjunction with the national secretary and committee chairmen) are prepared and distributed by the Chapter Services staff. This past May, this involved 10 committee meetings that took place during a two-week time frame.
Staff members from this department attend the international conventions to help coordinate the Governing Board, Executive Board, Board of Directors, and Annual Membership meetings. Working with the national secretary, notices and minutes of these meetings are prepared and distributed. Also at the convention, the staff coordinates the Chapter Fair and serves as support staff for the national president in terms of meetings, focus groups, and evening convention ceremonies. A Chapter Services staff member also works in the FMCA membership booth to share information with members who might be interested in chapters and also to offer support to existing chapter members.
The staff works closely with the area vice presidents from the time these individuals are nominated, elected, and installed in their respective positions. The assistance continues as staff members provide them with guidance materials to aid them in their work. Chapter Services Department staff also assists the area vice presidents by processing their area newsletters to help ensure communication with the area chapters. This department also lends support to all national officers to help facilitate their official FMCA duties.
And last, but not least, I should mention their work with the FMCA president. Although I work closely with FMCA’s executive director, the Chapter Services Department supports the position of president by assisting me with my correspondence, agendas, and much more.
In closing, I again invite all of our members to stop by our headquarters in Cincinnati and utilize some of those two free nights of camping a month at the Round Bottom Road office. After all, it is part of your membership benefits and it provides you the opportunity to visit our (your) facilities and meet some of the dedicated employees who support all of us. Peace, and may all your travels be safe and trouble-free.