IMBA’s Chapter Congress Executive director Mike Van Abel explains the meeting’s significance
he second IMBA Chapter Congress will convene on Oct. 12 at the IMBA World Summit. This important gathering of IMBA staff, board members and chapter leaders will help determine the organization’s 2013/14 agenda, and will shape plans to expand IMBA’s programs and operations. To understand the Chapter Congress is to understand that IMBA is becoming an entirely new organization. Our recent emphasis on the chapter program has produced a faster-growing, more tightly knit association than the IMBA of old. The Chapter Congress will showcase the fact that IMBA’s national office and its local chapters are strongly united by common missions, and mutually enhanced through joint funding, shared business systems and common resources. Is this to say that IMBA is shunning its history as an association of non-chapter clubs? No. The loosely knit club structure served us well for 20-plus years. But it did not do enough to support the over-worked and under-resourced volunteers running their local organizations. While the old association passed along know-how, it didn’t help carry the heavy burden of operating an organization on a day-to-day basis. Dedicated club leaders embarked on development of their own business systems and infrastructure. Those same volunteers licked many an envelope attempting to keep up with the never-ending membership renewal process. Many clubs acquired their IRS tax exempt status, even while building their websites and databases. They (usually) even remembered to file the club’s annual tax return and keep their insurance policies current. For many of these volunteers — some of them serving for more than a decade with little support — burnout was the result. It came on like a tsunami for volunteers who selflessly worked to meet the never-ending demands of running a club. The new association of IMBA chapters is the lifeboat. At the Santa Fe Chapter Congress we will work together to strengthen our plan for building local capacity, while at the same time increasing IMBA’s national capacity — which then is reinvested in furthering local capacity. Today, there are 102 IMBA Chapters. The vision is coming into focus as those clubs that became chapters two years ago are seeing their capacity increase to the point that hiring paid staff is becoming financially feasible. IMBA’s group of eight paid region directors is tangible evidence of the increased capacity of the emerging chapter association. If you are in a leadership role in an IMBA Chapter, I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to join your voice with the 101 other IMBA Chapters that, together with IMBA’s staff and board, will be identifying and setting the agenda for what’s next. Questions we will take up include: What systems and infrastructure needs further investment? What programs are top-priority for achieving our common missions? How do we work more closely in our fundraising? We are in this together more than ever, certainly more so than the old association where clubs and IMBA were sometimes in competition with one another. IMBA chapter successes are now one and the same as IMBA’s national successes. IMBA’s priorities must align with our chapter’s priorities. That’s the work we will pursue in Santa Fe.
Mike Van Abel IMBA Executive Director
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