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AFP Chapter Spotlight: The AFP Wisconsin Chapters

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Wisconsin chapters meeting

Last fall, leadership from each of the AFP chapters in Wisconsin began meeting together to better achieve their individual goals by combining their collective knowledge and experiences. In November, the chapters met for the first time by Zoom to establish their commitment to each other, identify focus areas, and draft a meeting schedule. They agreed that each meeting would include at least one member of each chapter's leadership, as well as committee members for the specific meeting's focus area.

AFP Global caught up with Sarah Linn, president of the AFP Greater Madison Chapter, and asked her about the collaboration.

AFP:  How many chapters in your area are working together, and how did you get started on the collaboration efforts?

Sarah: The four chapters that serve the majority of Wisconsin—Greater Madison, Northeast Wisconsin, Southeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Mississippi Valley Chapters—have been gathering once per quarter via Zoom. We found that all of us were facing similar challenges as chapter leaders, and the folks in the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter reached out to get things started.

AFP: What are some programs you’ve worked together on and what was the outcome of the sessions?

Sarah: The Greater Madison and Southeastern Wisconsin Chapters had previously partnered on a one-day conference. Pre-COVID, the event was successful and allowed each chapter to fund their work. It also gave our chapter leadership a chance to get to know each other and work closely together. Currently, each quarterly meeting covers a different topic that will help move our work forward. For 2022, those topics are Fundraising Day Wisconsin—our statewide conference run by the chapters—Marketing/Communications, Membership, and IDEA. We are sharing ideas of what is and isn't working at the chapter level and ways to improve our service to our communities.

AFP: What was the most successful session you’ve done together and what made it a success?

Sarah: Our membership talk was very enlightening. At that session, I learned that all the Wisconsin chapters are facing the same problems. Together we compiled feedback for AFP Global so that they would hear from chapter leadership in the entire state, rather than just one member or our groups separately. Hopefully, our advocacy for Wisconsinites participating on the local level will help shape AFP Global in the future!

AFP: What are the overall benefits you’ve found from working with other chapters in your state?

Sarah: I love the camaraderie between the Wisconsin chapters. It’s great to discuss common goals, frustrations faced, see what ideas might work in your own chapter, and brainstorm new ones together!

AFP: Do you have any best practices to share that will help other chapter groups that are seeking to collaborate with each other?

Sarah: I really appreciate Amy Rowell, president-elect of the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter, in helping to bring the chapters together and choose the main topics for each session ahead of time. It means that we can invite chairs of different committees depending on the topic, and it helps keep each session really productive since we all come prepared for the same discussion. I would encourage one person taking the lead on scheduling the meetings and setting a schedule that is consistent. Zoom has made these meetings easy and possible. 

AFP: What advice do you have for chapters who want to get started with a similar program?

Sarah: Do it! It’s so nice to get great ideas, support each other, and work together to make engaging programming happen for our participants statewide!

Is your chapter, or a group of chapters, involved in new or innovative program offerings or providing new ways to serve members? Let us know at Chapter.Engagement@afpglobal.org.

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