Starting a New Chapter
SMPS has chartered chapters throughout the United and in Canada. However, if you live or work in an area without SMPS representation, we encourage you to consider starting a new chapter.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure there isn’t already a nearby chapter that might serve your needs. However, if you think you have the leadership, interest and sweat equity it takes to start a new chapter, you’ll want to follow these important and necessary steps (based on other recently organized chapters).
SMPS Chapter Initial Organizing Steps
- Advise SMPS headquarters of your interest. SMPS headquarters is prepared to provide you with assistance throughout the start-up process.
CONTACT: Kai Wright, Associate Director, Volunteer Relations
- Recruit volunteers and establish an organizing committee to carry out the required organizational tasks. Leadership and participation is key! This committee should consist of volunteers with both the interest and the time to accomplish the various start-up activities described in this Guide, share the work as much as possible.
- Conduct research on whether or not an SMPS chapter will be sustainable in your area. This is a vital step. SMPS headquarters staff will discuss in further detail with you the work/research which needs to be done in advance and before moving forward with next steps.
- Create a database of members and prospective members; obtain a listing of SMPS members and prospects in your area. Use this list to conduct an interest survey (sample survey provided by SMPS headquarters) and to obtain information on other prospective members. Dependable support of a minimum of 30 SMPS members is needed at this stage.
- Decide on a temporary president, treasurer, membership chair, and program chair from among the members on the Organizing Committee. Appoint committees and assign tasks to volunteers as necessary. Share the work as much as you can.
- Work with SMPS headquarters to schedule a face-to-face meeting with staff and board representative. This meeting will help set the stage for collaborative efforts and understanding of roles each party brings to creating a sustainable and healthy SMPS chapter.
- Plan an initial meeting for all prospective members of the proposed chapter to explain how members can participate and how they will benefit. It is strongly recommended that the initial meeting include a program in addition to chapter organizational matters (such as a presentation by a prominent local developer in your area whose presence will help draw a better turnout). Prospective members will appreciate a “sample” of the type of programs the SMPS chapter will conduct. There will be important organizational matters to present and discuss at this meeting, but with adequate preparation, those can be dealt with effectively after the featured speaker’s presentation.
- Be careful to select a meeting date that does not conflict with other industry meetings or events, and a meeting site convenient to the majority of your prospective membership.
- Prepare and email or mail a press release to local papers and industry journals/newsletters announcing plans to establish a chapter and describing SMPS and its programs.
- Prepare and email or mail meeting notices to all members and prospects on your list.
- If you wish, you may charge a reasonable registration fee to recover the cost of refreshments or food served at the meeting. Be careful to keep the fee minimal so as not to discourage attendance.
- Follow-up your mailing by telephone calls to each potential attendee urging attendance and seeking names of others who might be invited.
- Work with SMPS headquarters for assistance in applying for and submitting the official organizational documents based on your state’s particular requirements. Transmit each document to the appropriate place (articles of incorporation to your state’s corporation office; proposed model chapter bylaws to SMPS headquarters; application for Employer Identification Number to Internal Revenue Service).
- Open a checking account in the name of the chapter. You may need to have the Articles of Incorporation complete and have obtained a Federal Employer Identification Number first. Check with one or more local banks for their requirements.
- After the business meeting, send SMPS members in good standing a request for votes on:
- a slate of officers and board members (the Organizing Committee can serve as a Nominating Committee to propose the initial slate of officers and directors)
- proposed chapter bylaws (must first be approved by SMPS headquarters)
- Send SMPS headquarters the results of the balloting, copies of the Articles of Incorporation and Employer Identification Number. Send a written request to SMPS headquarters for your chapter’s inclusion in the SMPS group tax exemption from federal income taxes.
- Obtain the graphics standards and logo from SMPS headquarters.
- Plan at least six months worth of programs and activities, including speakers and logistics.
- Obtain program ideas from other chapters and from members who have experienced useful programs elsewhere. SMPS headquarters can send you a copy of compiled chapter educational programs to assist you with the development of your programs.
- Prepare a budget; build financial resources (sponsorships, for example).
- Develop a strategic plan and a system for promoting your chapter, its activities, and membership benefits. Committees are essential to this process.
- Enjoy the rewards of local networking and professional development!
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