Leading Healthy Chapters
by Nicole Sanders, Field Coordinator for Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Northern North Dakota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Question: What does a healthy chapter look like?
Answer: Healthy chapters regularly meet twice a month while being active and visible in the community.
Start by regularly hosting a member-only meeting every month. It works best to hold meetings on the same day and time each month (for example, the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.). As Robert Owens wrote in last month’s Bulletin, have a meeting agenda, and stay on topic. It’s at this meeting where you learn what issues are most important to the members and then (as a group) come up with a plan to tackle those issues. Remember, you can’t do everything, so pick one or two issues to focus on. JBS has manuals for several of our action projects to guide you. If you do not know how to get started, reach out to your field coordinator.
Member-only meetings are for planning action. Create a calendar of all local events and plan to have a booth at as many as possible. Depending on your state’s rules, you can also request a copy of the voter rolls from your county or local Republican Party group. Knocking on doors is still the best grassroots tool, and voter rolls will come in handy for this. Once your chapter has a step-by-step plan, knock on the doors of all Republicans and Independents who vote in every election. It will be much easier to knock on a door for the first time if you have a specific plan to grab their interest on a hot-button issue.
A healthy chapter is key to member retention and growth — and even more importantly, it’s key if we want to turn back the tide and change the course on which our country is headed.
Your second meeting is for nonmembers, including prospective members and other concerned citizens. At this meeting, host a Constitution Is the Solution series and other JBS videos. This is also a good opportunity to bring in local speakers or utilize JBS’s Speakers Bureau. Make flyers advertising this meeting and distribute them around your community.
A healthy chapter will do a variety of activities, including printing Scorecards, knocking on doors, and organizing events, and it will have members willing to do each task. The person organizing events may not be the same person who likes knocking on doors. Find out the strengths of each member and organize your chapter around that. Each member must volunteer some combination of their time, talent, or treasure if you want to be successful.
Successes only come from members who are actively engaged and present in their community. They know the Christian and conservative businesses; they have relationships with their legislators and staffers. They are successful because they leave the meeting room, talk to their neighbor, and have a step-by-step solution to change whatever issue it may be. You cannot expect your chapter to grow, flourish, or have any tangible success if it’s inactive.
It comes down to this: All problems have a solution to fix them, but fixing them takes work. Get your chapter together, decide on one or two issues, and work with your coordinator to come up with an actionable plan. Don’t expect the Constitution to win if you refuse to get out and act — after all, it’s not a living, breathing document and can’t defend itself. It needs you to act. Our country needs you to act.