Chapter Building Strategy 8: Keeping Your Chapter Alive

Remember that the success of your chapter will depend entirely on the effectiveness of its leadership.  This is the rule.  There are no exceptions.  Regardless of the effectiveness of your YAL chapter while you act as leader, the potential and momentum you created can be lost irreversibly if effective leadership is not sustained from year to year.  Finding new leaders requires a plan and should be done well before your group disbands for the summer break. 

Read more Chapter Building Strategies here.

Check out some of the wise advice regarding leadership sustainability from Mikayla Hall,  Northwest Regional Director for YAL:

I graduate from college in June. Scary, right? What’s scarier is the number of clubs that die after all of their founding officers graduate — especially liberty-oriented clubs. I don’t have a specific statistic for you, but if you don’t start thinking about this issue now, you’re likely to become part of one.

There are a number of things you can do to avoid the iminent destruction of all of your hard work, and the trick is to start thinking about this before you are getting ready to leave your university. Here are some tips that I’ve seen work firsthand:

  • Cycle through your leadership. Don’t rely on the same president and officer board year after year. This can create a dependency on one individual who, hopefully, will not be in college forever and will eventually graduate. It also encourages fresh ideas and growth within a chapter.
  • Avoid cliques within your group. It is easy to bond with the people who have always been YAL members, but make sure you and your officers are open, inviting and engaging when interacting with new recruits. They’re more likely to return if they feel they too can be part of the family.
  • Encourage freshman and sophomores to run for officer positions and actually give them real responsibilities. If they run for VP or President with little experience, it’s okay. The older officers will still be around to offer guidance and help the club mature. If the underclassmen don’t run for anything, give them responsibilities anyway.
  • Be constantly looking for new members throughout the school year. You can attract students through your activism events, but sometimes just using the World’s Shortest Political Quiz as a “campus survey” can find you liberty-minded individuals who may not have previously identified themselves as such.
  • When you do graduate, follow up with your old chapter and keep the new officers motivated. Then they also feel they have someone to ask for advice that knows what they’re going through.

For more on Leaving a Legacy and other helpful hints, read Kent Strang’s article “Combat Attrition!” and check out the chapter on sustaining leadership from YAL’s Activism Guide below:

Identifying Potential Leaders

It is very important to keep a constant and conscious lookout for potential leaders. These people will often show some or all of the following characteristics:

  1. They show up to many if not all of your organization’s meetings and events, especially the smaller ones.
  2. They offer their time and service.
  3. They are involved with other organizations and groups.
  4. They bring friends to meetings and events.
  5. They show enthusiasm about the organization. Once these people are identified, they should be asked to head up a committee, project, or something else that can not only cultivate their leadership talents and abilities but expose what talents they currently have.
Cultivating Leaders

The success and legacy of your organization is so important that it is vital that you cultivate multiple leaders at a time. This is primarily because many potential leaders won’t turn out as expected: some simply won’t be good leaders worthy of taking on a primary role, others might find interest in other groups or clubs and pursue opportunities in those directions, and yet some might even change their politics and philosophy. In short, make sure your organization is always cultivating multiple leaders at one time.

There are multiple benefits to cultivating several leaders at a time:

  1. The organization can choose from a number of qualified candidates for leadership roles, and
  2. A feeling of competition between potential leaders may make them work harder and do more for the organization in order to prove their leadership capabilities and right to become an official leader in the club.
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