The 2007 AITP year was an exciting time for all of us who took part in what was called "A Year of Challenge - A Year of Change."
A core group of AITP officers and members started in the early summer of 2006 to determine if the chapter had viability. Our membership numbers were acceptable, but other than a core group who kept the lights on, not too much was happening. An extensive survey was launched one on one to include former members, potential members, and current members of the chapter. The results indicated that members felt the value of membership did not meet their needs in a variety of areas to include programs, locations, but most importantly networking.
We recognized and accepted the perceived disconnect experienced with the IT community and immediately set about addressing the challenge, involving as many of our members as possible. Survey results allowed the team to drill down down on necessary areas to immediately address and develop a solid business plan.
We then proceeded with what would be come to known by a few of us as our "Holy Trinity", in essence our written goals, written objectives, and processes that spoke to the needs OUR MEMBERS helped identify.
To get us up and running we held a kick-off meeting for all incoming 2007 board members, 2006 board members, and all former and incoming committee members on November 17, 2006 to rollout "the challenge" to all.
Committees formed and immediately began working on various tasks that spoke to their area and continued to perform exceptionally throughout the year.
Fundraising through Sponsorship and Raffles proved to be the key to the "plan" of delivering the necessary funding to allow The Charleston Chapter to provide the value necessary to attract new members and maintain our current member base.
We felt it was vital in meeting our objectives for growth and providing member value to have a clear line of communication. The creation of a database management process was implemented early on and we maintained and managed the database which allowed for promotion of all events to our chapter. Our LIFETIME MEMBER, Alan Blanche, managed the database administration for the Chapter.
During 2007 we instituted an RSVP system for on-line dinner reservations and also instituted a team to call members each month to remind them when we did not see their name on the list. Spreadsheets were utilized to track all events.
We had official greeters for each event to give members a personal touch. We provided event programs for dinners, had PowerPoint slides for each, and made announcements that promoted upcoming events.
Surveys of members and guests who attended each monthly dinner/luncheon/event were conduct online with a 99% approval rating.
Local Website visitation by membership and guests was encouraged with the site updated bi-weekly. We had a photographer present and a link to photos on our website to encourage others to join in the fun.
New member processes were established which allowed each new member to be contacted within 24 hours of joining by at least three AITP chapter officers. New Members were recognized and introduced at the first meeting after joining, presented with a package of information on the Chapter and listed monthly on the Chapter Website.
Our retention chairperson called and emailed members who were up for renewal beginning sixty (60) days prior and at weekly intervals thereafter. Renewing members were recognized at each meeting and on the website.
Our Program Chairperson secured top notch speakers for a variety of IT topics. Our attendance averaged upward of 50 with some events bringing 90+ attendees.
Our Arrangement chairperson was mindful in selecting locations that allowed our members to enjoy a variety of venues making sure that we visited all areas of Charleston which was representative of our membership.
Our publicity committee members made sure our events were covered and announced in all local papers and other IT publications.
The Chapter in 2007 was able to forge two partnerships that were extremely beneficial to our members. The Charleston Chapter of the Project Management Institute allowed an exchange of benefits by allowing AITP members to attend the PMI November Education Conference with Dr Eliyahu Godratt, for a substantial discount and we were gifted with a free conference seat used in our raffle, a $495 value. We also had the Associations' Large booth which we set up at the conference free of charge, another $550 value to promote membership. In turn, we gave the local PMI group a substantial discount to our August Change Management Workshop.
Our other partnership was with Veeck Enterprises, Mike Veeck is a very well know author, innovator, speaker and successful businessman. This partnership allowed many of our Chapter members to attend the two day Mike Veeck "FUN IS GOOD" Seminar at a substantial savings. Those of us able to attend met professionals from all over the country and we were recognized as being members of the Charleston Chapter of AITP.
In 2007 we offered three free events to our members.
April 2007 we held Our First Business After Hours-Member Appreciation Event at the Holiday Inn.
In June we had our First Annual AITP Family Night at the Riverdogs' Baseball Park. Members received a free AITP shirt. Members along with their families enjoyed a special pass into the park an hour prior to the gates opening, a picnic and the baseball game.
In August we held an all-day interactive Change Management Workshop at the South Carolina Research Authority which was facilitated by a Certified Professional Trainer. All attendees received CEUs (continuing education units) and or PDUs (project development units), workbooks and completion certificates.
Other events included Our Past Presidents Dinner with 12 Past President's and their spouses attending as guests of the Chapter. Each Past President received a Certificate of Appreciation and an array of gifts. Mike Veeck, speaker, presented each President with his book "Fun is Good" which he personally autographed. It was a wonderful celebration by 90+ attendees of our 45 Years as a Local Chapter.
The November Annual Business Meeting was held at the Sheraton Convention Center. Recognition of Executives (Bosses Night), The First Local Chapter Awards Night, Election of 2008 Officers and passage of the bylaws were completed. Raffle proceeds were donated to the Lowcounty Food Bank.
The Chapter Christmas Party/Dinner Meeting, held at the Topaz Ballroom at the Marriott Hotel, was near capacity for the event. Chapter members generously filled the large Toys for Tots box to overflowing as well as giving a large monetary donation to give the three Marines in attendance as our guest.
The Chapter ended 2007 with 90 active members having attracted 53 new members in 2007. We all left the Christmas Meeting looking forward to 2008.