Idea Fair

Rules of Engagement: Chapter Exchange

Idea fair gets chapters engaged with membership development.

At the 2014 Fall Leadership Summit of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, volunteers and staff from NARI chapters gathered for an “idea fair” to exchange ideas for membership recruitment and retention. Kathleen Raab, CAE, executive director of NARI’s Madison, Wisconsin, chapter, shares tips for making an idea fair work.

1. Start with success stories. Eight chapters with creative ideas were invited to set up small tabletop stations. Attendees rotated among the stations in groups to learn about each idea or get feedback on their own.

2. Keep it fast-paced. Groups spent seven minutes at each station, completing the idea fair in under an hour. “It created such a buzz in that room,” Raab says. “It was the second session in two long days of meetings, and a lot of people didn’t know each other. It really helped to get the conversations going, and those lasted the entire conference.”

3. Mix people up. Raab says attendees tended to group together with colleagues from their own chapters. That meant they all heard the exact same conversations. Next time, she says, she’ll recommend chapter colleagues split up so they can hear more variety.

4. Support ideas after the event. At the end of the idea fair, NARI announced a grant program for chapters to apply for funding for recruitment and retention efforts. “I said to them, ‘You can’t get new members because you don’t have the time or the staff or the money, so if we removed those barriers, what would you do?’” she says. “And that’s what we’ve tried to do with the grants.”


Joe Rominiecki

By Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. MORE

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