So you're an AAJA chapter leader. Here's what you need to do.

How many events must be organized each year?

Organize as many events that you and your chapter can handle. There is no requirement for how many -- or how large -- events should be each year.

Chapters should try to hold at least two events a year.

If you’re a new chapter leader, talk to past leadership and gauge what kind of events are easier to pull off. Not every chapter has to organize a Trivia Bowl. If your chapter has organized a Trivia Bowl in the past but doesn’t have the capacity to pull it off again, try something smaller.

If you haven’t recently held an event, organize a small get-together with your members. At times, a simple happy hour, dinner or membership meeting serves as reminder that you and your other members can be a good support network for other journalists in the area.

Mix up the kinds of events that you plan. Here are some examples:

- If a member releases a book or finishes a large project, organize a book party or speaking event.

- Is there a hot topic going on in your city or around the country? Gather local experts and the journalists who cover the topic for a panel.

- Invite editors and recruiters to a resume critique for local students or job hunters.

- Organize a local happy hour, partnering with other journalism or Asian-American professional organizations.

What officer positions must be elected on the local level?

President, secretary, treasurer, and national advisory board representative.

The president may also serve as a national advisory board member. And chapters with more than 100 members are allowed to elect a second advisory board representative.

If you cannot elect a treasurer and have fewer than 5 transactions each year, consider contacting National and allowing them to take over your finances.

What does a successful chapter look like? What will help the chapter be in good standing?

- The chapter is financially solvent and has enough funds to support local AAJA events its members want to host or stipends that can assist members to engage with AAJA national events.

- The chapter has a working board, along with a core group of members, who are engaged with AAJA’s mission at a local and national level.

- The chapter actively recruits new members, with an eye toward a diverse mix ranging from veterans to students.

- The chapter sends representatives to appropriate national board meetings.

- The chapter completes mandatory administrative tasks on time; these tasks include financial reporting and elections.

Do chapter leaders have to fundraise for both the chapter and the national organization?

AAJA has no set fundraising goals for chapters, and leaders can decide at their discretion how the chapter funds will be used. Advisory board representatives are asked to assist with the national convention, including helping with the silent auction, sponsorship connections, and the Power of One fundraising campaign.

Who at the national office should leaders reach out to for help?

A governing board member represents different kinds of members, including those at small, medium, large, or at-large chapters. You can reach out to them (their contact information is easily available at aaja.org or in this packet).

For questions about the national organization, you can directly contact Kathy Chow. For questions about finances, you can contact the elected treasurer.

What is the process of providing a chapter member a scholarship to a convention?

Local chapters may decide whether they want to use funds from the chapter to subsidize a member’s trip. It is advised that those awarded the scholarship agree to organize a local event or help out with some chapter duties.

The national organization also provides scholarships for those with financial hardship.

How do I convince members that volunteering is worth their time?

It's what we do!

Our programming — both on the local and national level — is one of the major benefits that we provide to members. Most of the time, that programming is only available through volunteerism. Try to encourage longtime members to give back to the organization that has helped them throughout their careers.

For younger members, ask them to take on responsibilities to give them a sense of ownership for the chapter. Ask them what kinds of events they would attend: a panel featuring local chefs, a Q&A with a visitor author, a salon with a prominent local news executive. Every chapter is only as good as its members, and every chapter grows stronger when each member feels that he or she belongs to and strengthens the organization.

What is the procedure when one of our chapter board members moves away to another chapter and the position is open?

A board member or officer may fulfill his or her term remotely, at the chapter’s discretion. If fewer than six months are left in the officer’s term, the president can appoint a new officer.

What national meetings do I need to attend?

If an advisory board member is new to the role, he or she must attend the spring advisory board meeting for training, which is usually held in San Francisco or the convention site. Afterward, the spring board meeting is optional, but encouraged. The summer board meeting is mandatory.

Only governing board members are required to participate in the fall meetings.

What resources does National provide to students?

Some of our signature programs are dedicated to students.

J-Camp, a week-long journalism camp during the summer, is available for high school students and is free of charge. Voices, which produces a publication during the national convention, is available for college students and largely subsidizes the costs for students.

In addition, several scholarships are available to college students. Student members are encouraged to apply at the national website.

Help! What should I do if our chapter doesn’t have enough active volunteers?

Identify one or two colleagues who can join you in a core group. Make membership recruitment your top priority for the first several months. This can include:

Visiting local universities and recruiting student members.

Visiting local news organizations and recruiting professional members

Tapping into public relations networks and recruiting those in communications.

Hosting one or two recruitment events - brunches, dinner, happy hours - where you can explain AAJA’s mission and attract new members.

As you build and grow your core group, propose one or two concrete projects that they can volunteer for. These don’t have to be heavy-lifting projects. They could include:

Planning and hosting a membership event

Planning, judging and offering a local scholarship

Collaborating with other local journalism associations and chapters to host a mixer

Working with a local new organization to present a panel discussion or documentary screening

I still need help!

If you have more concerns, you can reach out to:

Secretary, Nicole Dungca (ndungca@gmail.com)

President, Yvonne Leow (YvonneL@aaja.org)

Executive Director, Kathy Chow (kathyc@aaja.org)

Credits:

AAJA

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