I was excited to attend another Chapter Leaders Meeting and meet 94 leaders from around the world on Sunday, June 23, at the 30th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference. I always look forward to hearing about the issues affecting chapters and to hear how others overcame those challenges and achieved success. This is the fourth year in a row that we have seen an increase of attendance at our leaders meeting. Since 2016, attendance has risen from 75 attendees to 94 attendees.
Steve Wilson, CFE, President of the Vancouver Chapter, kicked off the meeting with a recap of chapter activities over the past year. He began reviewing the Chapter Leaders Meeting Survey and asked chapters to share their experiences with the other leaders.
One of the topics that chapters spent a lot of time on was attracting students to join the chapter. The Houston Area Chapter offers students free membership within the chapter if they are a part of their local student chapter. Several chapters offer scholarships to local universities. Bruno Pavlicek, CFE, President of the Georgia Chapter, said that after several years of offering local students a CFE Exam Prep Course, many don’t even show up to receive the recognition. Rather than extending this award to students, they now hold a competition for working professionals that has helped generate a lot of interest in the local membership.
Some other items that I found important through the conversation include:
Communication is key. This includes better communication between the ACFE and chapters, as well as between chapters and their membership
Being able to explain the benefits of the ACFE vs the benefit of joining the local chapter
We also discussed benefits that chapters offer their members. Some benefits included free membership for the first year, first event free, member benefit days and free networking socials.
Evan Lemoine, CFE, President of the Rhode Island Chapter, led a discussion about Policies and Procedures: Best practices. He also incorporated a text voting system in his presentation, which engaged attendees to participate in answering the questions and lead to more interaction from the group. Several chapters indicated they will be using that tool for their chapters.
For example, he asked the leaders how many read the uniform chapter bylaws. Based on the responses, only about 70% had read the bylaws. He also asked how many chapters still use a paper-based method to maintain chapter records vs an electronic method, and the percentage was similar, about 70% use a mostly electronic method. He also talked about cloud-based technologies and asked the leaders to list which ones they use.
He also talked about the importance of having more than one person that is capable of doing a particular role. For example, there may be one person that is great at social media. However, if that person no longer wants to continue to be a chapter leader, will you no longer have a social media presence or will there be training opportunities for others to be better in that role?
The New York Chapter President, Chelsea Binns, CFE, presented the last block. Her presentation was about everything that can go wrong with your events, and how to mitigate them. These include disgruntled guests, weather factors, speaker travel problems, etc. This was a very interactive presentation as many leaders shared their experiences and some issues that they never thought of.
The first topic we discussed was weather problems. Many chapters that experience snowstorms know this slows everything down, from guests traveling into town, traffic problems, and more. Some chapters were able to get permission from the host location to move the start time of the event to allow time for guests to arrive. Some put language in the contract that allows for flexibility in the start time/date. The main point was to always have a plan B. This was a consistent theme throughout the presentation.
Some chapters shared their experience about emails not responded to as quickly as chapter members would like. Some leaders used the opportunity to explain to the member that they are volunteers and they all have jobs, and they do their best to respond as quickly as they can. Some have even extended a complimentary seat to a luncheon or offered something and quickly turned the conversation around about how well they treat their members.
Another popular topic was what to do when a speaker cancels at the last minute. While some chapters try to have a backup at all of their events just in case, I also offered another suggestion. In the Chapter Administration page on the ACFE site, we offer two videos from a previous year’s Global Fraud Conference which they can play for their audience and receive ACFE credit. So if all else fails, they can still play one of these videos to the group.
In addition to the presentations, we also had a representative from Star Chapter onsite to answer questions about their Association Management solutions and the group discount that they have extended to our chapters.
If you attend the ACFE Global Fraud Conference but have not attended the Chapter Leaders Meeting, I encourage you to do so. It is an investment of a few hours that could yield big dividends for your chapter. The links below are to this year’s slides.
Thank you to all who attended and I look forward to an even better meeting at next year’s conference in Boston.