2019 Chapter Restructuring Proposal
Background & Introduction
A conversation began at the 2017 Annual Meeting around the role of the chapter and regional groups within ASIS&T. This proposal has been developed to offer a way forward that would revitalize our chapters and ensure that all members of ASIS&T have a chapter with which to affiliate and engage.
ASIS&T, like many other associations, has chapters that were conceived with a model derived in the pre-technology / pre-internet age. At its inception, ASIS&T needed small organizations to reach our members in the immediate geographic locale. We still treat chapters as organizations rather communities—thus we create and require metrics around operations rather than value delivered. Meanwhile, ASIS&T members want to make a change and contribute to the association by working on things that are relevant to their interest and provide opportunities to work on projects rather than focusing on governance. This way they could leverage the passion of the members to create added value for ASIS&T as a whole.
The latest research in association management and ASIS&T’s very own chapter activities reports show that volunteers face a time-intensive job to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s required for a traditional chapter structure. They are still being asked to “run” an organization. Both today’s and tomorrow’s leaders look at the situation and simply refuse to participate as a result. Living in the information age allows ASIS&T to expand the idea of chapters to members who are passionate without confines of immediate geography. If the chapter structure could lend to launching projects and programs rather than operate as satellite locations, we could leverage the passion of the members beyond boundaries to create value.
This is easily reflected in the number of new volunteers engaged in chapter relations each year and the lack of value-adding programs presented in the chapter activity reports. For example, although California has over 130 individuals who geographically belong to the Los Angeles chapter, the chapter is inactive because of a lack of volunteer support. This accounts for just over 8% of ASIS&T constituents without an active chapter just in California. The same can be said for the inactive Potomac Valley Chapter which, if active, would have membership rolls numbering over 90 members.
Due to the loss of many active chapters over the last several decades, we now have a situation where a member in California has pays the same dues but receives less member benefit than a member in Hong Kong because the member in California is not a member of a chapter. For this reason we propose a structure whereby every ASIS&T member will be a member of a regional chapter.
Evaluating the role of Chapters in ASIS&T
Chapters provide ASIS&T members with readily-accessible educational programs as well as an effective means to provide input into global issues. The goal of ASIS&T Chapters is to enable people with the same interest to come together regularly to share their experience and to encourage each other in the information science and technology profession. The focus is on genuinely local activities connecting information science professionals. Business meetings with invited speakers, regional meetings, roundtables, webinars, lunch and learns, are some examples of what a chapter may offer. Chapters circulate news and views of their members to ASIS&T Central, provide ASIS&T with essential information to effectively plan to program (including but not limited to regional meetings), influence the decision-making of the Association, and enhance ASIS&T's reputation by communicating and collaborating with other affiliated organizations and groups. Above all; it provides a handy and convenient network for everyday access.
Chapters also offer ASIS&T members the opportunity to assume leadership roles at the local level. Through this recommendation, we are hoping to establish regional ASIS&T chapters that are groups of ASIS&T members who live or work in a particular region and who, as a matter of geographic convenience, organize themselves to promote the goals of the Association cooperatively through both in person and virtual programming.
We propose that ASIS&T adopt an enhanced chapter structure based on the “Combination Model” of chapter management. The Combination Model combines the Networking Model and the Hubs & Spokes Model of chapter management.
The Hub & Spokes model of chapter management focuses on networking with a group around a shared interest or meeting up with local peers on the fly. In the hub & spokes model, the regional chapter works with chapter members to facilitate smaller group meetups around shared interests or ideas. This would lend to ASIS&T building cohesion and synergy between SIGs, chapters, and student groups. The regional chapter and ASIS&T Central would provide the tools and resources to help facilitate the networking group and make group communication easy.
The Networking Model allows for a variety of component groups in which members can participate based on scientific special interest, as well as geographic location and demographic commonalities. As the association identifies an underserved group critical to its strategic plan, the regional groups serve as an extension of the association with the intent to develop mutually-beneficial links between academia and industry by connecting industry professionals, early-career information scientists, students, and faculty in geographically centered areas. The chapter structure would include a regional task force group with a small leadership team. The frequency of meeting would be determined by the group with the target to meet frequently either face-to-face or virtually to share ideas, learn about current academic and industrial research, build relationships, network, and potentially encourage recruitment of students and postdocs into industries.
The combination model would allow ASIS&T to replace its traditional chapter program with a more regionally-based program that features a local coordinating body. Organizations using this model evolve their individual chapters into a model with regional networks that have a local networking component. The regional networks would be led by leadership teams with all administration handled by ASIS&T Central. These leadership teams would focus on delivering education, networking and local outreach to student chapters.
ASIS&T Central would handle all finances, manage the database, and maintain web management. This streamlines the responsibilities and the workload of volunteers while providing a consistent brand across all ASIS&T chapters. In this model, the volunteer structure is based on the principles of adhocracy. Adhocracy is characterized by an adaptive, creative, and flexible integrative behavior based on non-permanence and spontaneity. It is believed that these characteristics allow adhocracy to respond faster than traditional bureaucratic organizations while being more open to new ideas. Associations using this model typically use online community portals. They have a unified membership which means one membership fee would cover ASIS&T international, regional memberships and other communities of practice are included. Additional regional memberships would result in additional costs for the member.
In the proposed chapter restructure, the world would be divided into eleven geographic regions. The recommended boundaries are based on critical mass of membership in each region. Each regional chapter will be responsible for developing a programming calendar, managing funds for interest group activities, coordinating events, communicating news to its constituents and ambassadors, encouraging activity, and developing new leaders. These regional chapters will act as liaisons to ASIS&T Central. Also, chapters will be responsible for maintaining a community discussion site.
We propose the following regional chapters, representing the regions shown below. These boundaries can be redrawn if the regional leadership feels there is a more appropriate distribution.
- North America West Chapter
- North America Northeast Chapter
- North America Midwest Chapter
- North America South Chapter
- Americas Chapter
- Europe Chapter
- Africa Chapter
- Middle East Chapter
- Asia Chapter
- South Asia Chapter
- Oceania Chapter
The consolidated chapter structure will allow a path for rebranding chapters and fostering a relationship between SIGs, student chapters and the regional chapters. Because the numbers are more substantial, there will be a higher number of individuals with the potential to participate in leadership opportunities within the chapter. Regions like Asia, Europe, Northeast and Midwest already have strong governance in their existing chapters. As we achieve success locally, we can look at breaking these large regions into smaller ones. However, we believe starting out with a limited number of large chapters will allow us to build systems and processes most effectively.
Within each region, if there is sufficient critical mass and local activity to warrant it, local chapters may be established. Local chapters in North America would represent individual states, and local chapters outside of North America would represent individual countries. For example, given our current chapter structure and active chapter status, we could have local chapters in:
- California (potentially)
- North Carolina
Local Chapters would be managed by the Regional Chapter with support provided by ASIS&T Central as needed.
Student Chapters within the geographic boundaries of the eleven regional chapters will fall under the region and will work closely with the regional chapters. This will aid in establishing more open communication and programming between regional and student chapters. It will also promote networking opportunities and cohesion between the university and practice. Thus, supporting the early career transition between student and professional member.
Institutions wishing to form an ASIS&T Student Chapter must be an Institutional Affiliate Member of ASIS&T.
Regional Chapter Responsibilities to ASIS&T Central
ASIS&T will require several specific chapter deliverables for the maintenance of an active regional chapter and the distribution of its annual allocation.
- The chapter must hold at least one meeting (virtually or in person) between Annual Meetings each year.
- The chapter must maintain at least one hundred members in good standing. In addition, all chapters of ASIS&T will have an obligation to promote, at the local level, the general objectives of ASIS&T.
- The chapter must distribute a minimum of two newsletters between Annual Meetings each year.
- Each chapter must submit an annual report to ASIS&T Central each June. The annual reports provide ASIS&T Central with the most comprehensive principal source of information regarding the administration, organization, and activities of the chapters. Data accumulated from each report is used to compile, with the approval of the Chapter Assembly, a report which is circulated back to the chapters highlighting chapter successes and best practices.
- Each year, the Chapter Assembly will hold a meeting in conjunction with the ASIS&T Annual Meeting. The meeting provides a forum in which chapter delegates may voice their views on a variety of issues and exchange information among themselves. Each chapter must send a representative to this meeting. In addition, to the in-person meeting, the chapter assembly will be asked to meet once per quarter to facilitate the exchange of the information and alignment with the ASIS&T strategic direction.
- Each chapter shall appoint country or state representatives in each of the countries or states within its region. That individual will be responsible for organizing local events as well as connecting regularly with members in their area and conducting member recruitment efforts with the support of ASIS&T Central staff. These contacts should be listed on the chapter website.
Chapter finances are always a concern for those individuals responsible for conducting the affairs of the chapter. As mentioned earlier in this proposal, ASIS&T Central would like to take the burden off chapters when it comes to finances.
We propose that chapter financial activities be tracked in the same way that SIG activities are tracked. Specifically, ASIS&T Central holds all chapter funds in reserve. Each fiscal year the chapter would receive an allocation of 7% of the dues generated by the members in the chapter as of May 1st of the immediately-preceding fiscal year. The allocation may be supplemented with other revenue sources, such as webinars, workshops, regional conferences, and networking events, within the restrictions of ASIS&T policies. Chapters would be allowed to carry forward any earned income (or existing reserves) each year but would forfeit their allocation if it is not spent in the fiscal year in which it is allocated.
If a chapter wishes to solicit donations, they are strongly encouraged to do so. Any funds raised on behalf of the Association are the property of the Association and subject to the standard accounting procedures for the Association. Chapters would be required to communicate directly with the Director of Membership & Communication about their plans to solicit sponsorships in order ensure that chapter activities do not conflict with the other priorities of the Association and that fundraising activities can be coordinated and that contributions can be recognized nationally.
We would further require that all chapters submit annual budgets for the year's activities by July 1. Based on the total income expected for the Chapter, activities would be identified, and expenses estimated within the total amount of money available for the Chapter.
No allocated funds will be released to any chapter until ASIS&T Central has received the chapter's annual report demonstrating fulfillment of chapter responsibilities and a financial plan (budget) not later than July 1.
By moving all chapter funds under the auspices of ASIS&T Central, we lift the burden of regular financial reporting by the chapters. Moving funds under ASIS&T Central further allows us immediate access to financial activity reporting in time for the annual ASIS&T audit. Under our current structure, ASIS&T Central receives little or no information on how locally-managed chapter funds are spent. Furthermore, time spent on financial compliance necessarily takes away from time volunteer leaders are available to focus on other organizational priorities, such as quality improvement, program development, and long-term planning.
Chapter Funds Currently Held in Reserve
ASIS&T holds considerable funds in reserve that have accumulated by now-inactive chapters. In order to fairly distribute these funds, we propose that where existing local chapters are active and have a fund balance, those funds would accrue to the regional chapter formed in that area. Those funds would be part of their initial reserve (carryover) account. All funds that are currently attributed to inactive chapters would revert to a general chapter development fund available to regional chapters for development activities designed to build chapter strength. The guidelines for how those funds could be used should be less restrictive than our current chapter development fund guidelines in order to encourage meaningful activity within chapters. We would propose that each chapter be allocated $4,000 from the chapter development fund once they are re-chartered in order to fund startup costs and an initial meeting.
By keeping these funds centralized and requiring a programmatic plan to access them, we encourage the regional chapters to really think about what they want to do and how it would need to be funded. Guidelines for how those funds could be used would be developed by ASIS&T Central and vetted through the Chapter Development Task Force (see below).
The transition in the leadership of a chapter is often accompanied by a breakdown in communications within the chapter. It is vital that the outgoing and incoming officers work together to exchange relevant information and documents. Listed below are several suggestions to help smooth the transition. All new officers should specifically request the transfer of any existing files regarding the chapter and its previous activities into the iConnect community site. ASIS&T Central must be notified in writing immediately after a change in leadership to ensure that all correspondence is sent to the appropriate person. ASIS&T Central will maintain files on each chapter, including their annual reports, budgets, and finance, and the community site for each chapter will serve as the repository of this information.
Elections will be managed by the current chapter leadership with significant input from ASIS&T Central staff and concluded not later than 90 days prior to the Annual Meeting. Before candidates are placed on a ballot, those conducting the election must ensure that the candidates are members in good standing of ASIS&T. Upon election, chapter members must maintain good standing throughout the course of their term.
Each chapter must have a Past Chair and a Chair-Elect. This assures that the incoming president will have a training period before assuming complete responsibility for the chapter. New chapter officers will be expected to attend chapter leadership training.
The Chapter Assembly (comprised of one representative from each regional chapter, a Director, Past Director and Deputy Director) will meet four times per year starting with the Annual Meeting. It will serve as a valuable source of information for all Chapter Officers and will provide a useful orientation to newly elected leaders.
As to leadership of this initiative, we propose that the existing Chapter Assembly and Advisory Board structure be left in place to manage the affairs of the existing chapters in the coming administrative year. We further propose that the President appoint a task force made up of one individual from each of the 11 regions, and chaired by the Chapter Assembly Director, to manage the transition to the new structure and advise staff on policy and process.
We project that the following outcomes will be achieved from the implementation of a realistic, relevant, and flexible chapter structure.
- Effective governance of chapters, including both oversight and operations
- Clear delineation and coordination of roles in chapters and between component groups.
- Common vision and goals for all leaders within the chapter component group.
- Stronger financial management, analysis and decisions.
- Stronger marketing, including research and promotions.
- Enhanced credibility and image among constituent groups in the information science profession.
- Overall, more proactive direction-setting, decision-making and problem-solving.
- Consistent brand.
Initial Project Activities and Deliverables
- Leadership training at the annual meeting and quarterly throughout the year.
- Development of a transition plan for the consolidation of the region chapters.
- A Board vote to de-charter all existing chapters and charter the approved regional chapters.
- Changing the chapter elections timeframe. The fiscal year changed in 2018. Now that the fiscal year begins in July it is our recommendation to begin getting the next set of leaders elected by August so that they will have enough time to plan their annual meeting attendance according.
- Establish a method for training and supporting new leaders and transitioning institutional knowledge.
- Update chapter manual to reflect changes.
- ASIS&T Central works with chapters to close external accounts and transition to ASIS&T Central.