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Christopher Gauger, EAA 746128, Chapter Field Representative I
November 2022 –
In this day and age, if a chapter does not have an online presence, then it may as well not exist. Although word of mouth remains the most common way a person learns about an EAA chapter, the internet is the second-most common way and a vitally important one. The internet is the number one research tool today, and thus many people will first discover your chapter through an online search. If your chapter has a website, then you want to make sure people can learn about your chapter in case they want to join.
Chapter websites should address a set of questions that we call the Five W’s:
- Who are we?
- What do we do?
- Where do we meet?
- When do we meet?
- Why should people join us?
These are the most basic pieces of information that a new person should be able to learn about your chapter when coming across your website.
EAA offers every chapter a free website hosted on the Sitecore platform. This offering was introduced in January 2020, and as of this article, more than 600 chapters currently use an EAA-provided website. All a chapter has to do is request a website at EAA.org/ChapterWebsites, and the EAA chapters office will set up the website and grant the chapter access so they can edit and maintain it. No HTML or other coding knowledge is required to use one of these websites, although the option for HTML coding is available. Our chapter websites come with a variety of webpage templates so you do not have to build them from scratch. There are also generic content pages that you can build for a particular subject. All pages can be customized to personalize your chapter.
On the chapter websites homepage, you will find the Sitecore portal so you can access your website, along with reporting functions if there are technical issues that need to be addressed or chapter information that needs to be updated in the EAA database. The homepage also has a variety of help videos that cover topics such as organizing your website and adding media content such as photos and documents.
EAA-provided chapter websites automatically populate the following information from the EAA database, which means you do not have to add it on your own:
- Chapter president’s name
- Chapter phone number and email address
- Chapter meeting location and date/time
- Young Eagles coordinators and Eagle Flight leaders
- Upcoming Young Eagles rallies (if the chapter uses Young Eagles Day)
- Members’ aircraft builds (if the members use the EAA Builders Log)
- Flight advisors and technical counselors
- IMC and VMC coordinators and meeting date/time and location
You should make sure that all of this information is correct and up to date. If any of these details need to be fixed or updated, please contact the EAA chapters office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-564-6322 so we can make the changes in our database.
Aside from the aforementioned information, chapters are also encouraged to add their calendar of events and membership application to their websites. Some chapters have a PayPal account so their members can pay their dues online, and Sitecore gives you the option to add a PayPal button to your website to facilitate this. Chapters can also upload their newsletters and meeting minutes to their website for members and non-members to read.
Some chapters may choose to create their own websites from scratch on other, non-EAA platforms. These chapters have put together highly detailed and well-designed websites. However, custom websites require more time and effort to create and maintain. You want to make sure that if the chapter member who created the website leaves the chapter, then you still have someone else who can keep maintaining the website. You do not want the previous web editor’s expertise and knowledge to leave the chapter with them. The EAA-provided Sitecore websites avoid this problem by offering a standardized, already-built platform that is easier to keep updated and has an easier learning curve.
Setting up an online presence for your chapter is easier than you may expect. EAA is here to provide you with a free chapter website and to support you. To learn more, go to EAA.org/ChapterWebsites.