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Planning for Your Chapter’s Future

By David Leiting Jr., EAA Lifetime 579157, EAA Chapter Outreach Specialist

March 2018 - Each fall, the EAA board of directors and staff members gather to work on the organization’s strategic plan. These meetings are vital to determining the future of our organization. It provides a chance to review EAA’s mission and discuss how to fulfill that mission, set goals for the upcoming year, and evaluate progress on current goals. Meetings such as this are not unique to EAA; they are imperative to give any organization a sense of direction and a way to track progress.

For EAA chapters, one of the biggest benefits of strategic planning is determining what your chapter’s goals are and how you will accomplish them, and gaining a sense of direction. Many chapters raise funds but then struggle to find a use for the money, or they may host a fly-in each summer but they go into the event without a desired outcome. Having a goal in place for your events, fundraising, and membership recruitment can help the chapter operate more efficiently. Even if you only have a handful of members, implementing some sort of strategic plan will help put you on the fast track to success.

Whether your chapter needs a plan for the next year or you would like to create a five-year plan, there are five main components to consider.

  1. What is the chapter’s mission? (The why.)
  2. What tasks are required to accomplish the mission? (The what.)
  3. For each task, what is the desired goal/outcome? How can the chapter measure this outcome? (The how.)
  4. When do we want to accomplish these goals? (The when.)
  5. Who will be responsible for ensuring these tasks stay on track? (The who.)

To help chapters create their own strategic plan, EAA has provided an outline for chapters to edit to their liking. Click here to access that document.

Example of a chapter flight plan (strategic plan).

Chapter 292 in Independence, Oregon, recently sat down to discuss long-term planning. Before they even gathered in a room, chapter officers were asked to complete a survey that would help determine what items would rise to the top of the priority list. After completing the survey, leaders spent a half-day going over the areas they felt were important to the long-term health of the chapter. Coming out of this meeting, the chapter had a finalized list of priorities to focus on.

The chapter then broke down each priority and listed the action items to address each area. Chapter leaders were assigned different action items to help spread the workload and ensure efficient completion of tasks.

For example, one area of emphasis for Chapter 292 was to improve their monthly chapter meetings. Here was how the five components of strategic planning were incorporated into Chapter 292’s flight plan,

  1. The why
    1. Chapter 292 states that they want to create an open and welcoming environment for all those interested in aviation so that aviation enthusiasts can socialize and learn from one another.
  2. The what
    1. Shorten the business aspect of monthly meetings to include more educational and social content.
    2. Create a larger emphasis on flight safety and flight education.
    3. Make guests feel more welcome at the meetings so they feel more comfortable joining the chapter.
  3. The how
    1. Organize an aviation presenter for each chapter meeting.
    2. Establish a VMC Club, have a short safety talk at each meeting, and create a safety liaison position within the chapter.
    3. Create a chapter greeter position to welcome all guests and put together visitors packets so guests can learn more about the chapter.
  4. The when
    1. The chapter plans to implement these changes during the first quarter of 2018.
  5. The who
    1. Each task was assigned to a different member within the chapter. This helped engage multiple members and spread out the workload. 

Aside from the chapter meeting, Chapter 292 also decided to focus on a builders group, ultralight flying, membership recruitment, facility enhancement, and more!

If your chapter is thinking about creating a strategic plan, brainstorm three to five areas that your chapter wants to focus on. This will give you enough to work toward, but will not overburden chapter volunteers. If your chapter is looking for some areas to focus on, consider the following.

Five Areas to Focus on in Your Chapter’s Strategic Plan

  1. Monthly gatherings: Create a yearly content calendar for your monthly presentations. This will allow members to plan ahead and mark their calendars for can’t miss presentations.
  2. Membership growth: Outline a plan to onboard new chapter members. This portion may include other aspects of your strategic plan.
  3. Chapter activity: Plan a pancake breakfast, Young Eagles rally, tower tour, and fly-out for your members. This will help keep members engaged outside of your monthly gatherings.
  4. Chapter promotion: Develop a chapter marketing plan to include ChapterBlasts, printed materials, and other communication methods. This will help raise awareness of your chapter in your local community.
  5. Chapter fundraising: Is the chapter saving for a chapter home, new tool crib equipment, or event supplies? Plan a handful of fundraising events to fund these goals.

If you are looking for help implementing these ideas, we highly encourage you to attend one of our chapter leadership training sessions. Whether it is a boot camp on the road, or an academy in Oshkosh, you are sure to gain the tools necessary for growing and improving your chapter through a strategic plan. Check out our upcoming training sessions here!

As always, please reach out to the EAA chapter office with any questions that you may have regarding your chapter operations. We are always here to help. You can send me an e-mail at dleiting@eaa.org or contact the chapter office at 920-426-5912. 

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