The Chapter Recognition Program

John Egan, EAA 336835, Sr. Manager of Chapters


July 2022

EAA chapters have always been one of the most vital components in making general aviation fun, affordable, and accessible at the local level. To recognize chapters that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to general aviation, EAA uses the Chapter Recognition Program. This recognition is based off ten criteria, with an extra credit opportunity as well, that have been shown to correlate with active and engaged chapters. In addition, EAA will provide continued coaching to help chapters reach the recognition threshold. Coaching comes by way of articles found in ChapterGram newsletters and of course the ever-popular and very well-attended Chapter Leadership Training events called academies and boot camps. Our chapters staff here at EAA also hosts a variety of helpful webinars throughout the year to assist chapters.

Let’s consider why the criteria were selected to represent the health of an EAA chapter. EAA chapters offer social, aviation, and educational content to EAA members in any local community. Given the fact that “activity equals success” when it comes to any volunteer organization, EAA uses information that is readily available to peek inside the activities a chapter hosts.

Attends a chapter leadership training session

Attending a leadership training session provides chapters with the knowledge and tools to remain active and healthy. Here in the office, we receive countless positive comments regarding how attending a leadership event saved the chapter.

Growing or steady membership

Membership retention or growth is vital to the health of a chapter. Therefore, each chapter reports their membership count yearly, which is used to measure their overall health.

Offers IMC or VMC Club programs

Having an IMC or VMC Club is a great way to provide pilot proficiency and safety of flight for your members, no matter what type of aircraft they fly. These organized hangar-flying scenarios are completely free to all EAA chapters, and we provide all the content needed to offer monthly programming in these clubs. For people who seek out a chapter to stay on their flying game, this program is excellent.

Participates in Young Eagles or Flying Start programs

Flying Young Eagles and providing Eagle Flights is one of the best ways to engage your local community in aviation. The EAA mission is “To grow participation in aviation by promoting The Spirit of Aviation,” which is one of the main reasons chapters form. Young Eagles rallies provide your members with a great excuse to get together and volunteer, all while introducing the next generation to aviation. Flying Start events are a great way to introduce local adults to the aviation and flight training options in your area.

Has EAA-approved flight advisor or technical counselor

Homebuilding is the cornerstone of EAA and it is equally important to chapters. In fact, more than 30 percent of chapter members said they joined an EAA chapter to expand their homebuilding skills and knowledge. Having an EAA-accredited technical counselor or flight advisor rounds out a chapter’s resume nicely.

Participates in EAA’s annual chapter member survey

It is important to know what your chapter members are interested in and how they view the chapter. In 2017, EAA began sending out an annual survey to all chapters, so they could distribute this survey to their members. This survey helps give EAA a direct look into how the chapter member experience can be improved.

More importantly, the results of this survey are shared back to the chapter. The chapter can then use these results to gauge the satisfaction level of their members. Using these results, the chapter can improve the overall member experience. How is this criterion calculated? If at least 20 percent of your chapter members participate in the survey (number of members is determined by the chapter-reported number during renewal), and your chapter receives a Net Promotor Score of at least 50 out of 100 (chapter network average is approximately 60). Please understand these criteria and communicate to your chapter members to engage in the survey. It’s easy! We’ll let you know in ChapterGram when the survey is released.

Participates in Young Eagles Build and Fly, Young Eagles Workshops, or sends a youth to EAA’s Air Academy

Does your chapter participate in the Young Eagles Build and Fly program, the Young Eagles Workshop program, or send a youth to EAA’s Air Academy? EAA chapters are often wondering what they can offer to youths following a Young Eagles flight that will keep them engaged. EAA has developed a number of turnkey solutions to help address that question. If the chapter participates in one of the three available youth programs mentioned during the previous year, the chapter will earn this point. New in the 2020/2021 recognition tally, any chapter whose Ray Aviation scholar earned a certificate gained this recognition point. We’re trying to help chapters in every way to take credit they earn.

Requests an EAA ChapterBlast email

We really make it easy for chapters to earn a point related to promoting an event open to the public. Chapters have a great opportunity to reach out to local EAA members via a ChapterBlast email. A ChapterBlast is a promotional email sent by EAA on behalf of your chapter, to invite regional EAA members to your chapter event. The email will be sent to all EAA members within roughly 75 miles of the chapter event. A ChapterBlast is the perfect way to invite new EAA members to your meet and greet, fly-in, open house, or pancake breakfast. Each chapter is limited to three ChapterBlasts per year and requests must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the event. Please take advantage of this one.

Hosts at least two public events each year

The number one reason why EAA members join chapters is for aviation activities. By hosting a minimum of two chapter activities per year, outside of your monthly gatherings, you are satisfying their hunger for aviation activities. In addition, these events provide great recruiting opportunities and can introduce your local community to general aviation. They provide your chapter the opportunity to show your community the positive impact your chapter is having on the airport. Be sure to request your chapter insurance for your events as this is the way we know you are hosting these, and it is how we provide your chapter the credit it deserves.

Owns/leases a facility

Having a chapter home is one of the final ways to help take your chapter over the top. Having space to host presentations, meetings, build sessions, potluck dinners, etc. is a fantastic asset. These locations create a sense of chapter pride and open the members up to many new opportunities.

Chapters don’t necessarily need to own their own facility; they can also rent or lease space. Either way, EAA can help provide insurance! Any chapter that owns, leases, or has 24/7 access for at least 30 consecutive days should purchase facility insurance. If your chapter purchases facility insurance during the annual chapter renewal process, your chapter earns this point. A chapter does not need to have a facility to earn a gold level status. Earning 9 points out of the potential 11 gets them there. However, to earn the facility point, EAA needs to know the chapter has a facility, so this needs to be reported during the annual EAA chapter renewal process, or inform us at any time the chapter gains a facility.

Extra credit activities

EAA recognizes that many chapters participate in meaningful activities that are not represented within the Chapter Recognition Program. A few of these activities include offering a chapter tool crib, offering a chapter scholarship (separate from Ray Aviation Scholarship), hosting a chapter build project, or a youth build project. EAA will allow chapters to submit these activities for potential extra credit, which will go toward the overall recognition score. Each September to November, chapters will be able to submit qualified activities for chapter recognition extra credit. Keep your eye on ChapterGram and check back on to know when extra credit activities can be submitted.

Having a clear understanding of why we look at the criteria we look at, and knowing that we look at the items we have access to, helps EAA chapter leaders not only guide their chapters’ to success, but create a variety of activities that their members and community are looking for. A chapter does not need to have gold-level status to be a great chapter, as there is so much content to consider. Obtaining a bronze, silver or gold-level status indicates that a tremendous amount of effort is happening at the chapter, and the chapter is growing participation in aviation by promoting The Spirit of Aviation.

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