The ACFE Greece Chapter formed in April 2008. At the time of their formation, the ACFE only had 31 members in Greece. With their help, membership has increased to more than 300 members. The chapter board consists of five members who are all CFEs. Several founding members have remained active on the board for nearly 10 years, including the current chapter president, Evangelia Dimitroulia, CFE, who was the initial training director.
The Greece Chapter is one of many ACFE chapters that does not charge a membership fee. Anybody who is an ACFE member may be a member of the chapter. They also work closely with a local university to form a student chapter, which sponsors ACFE student memberships for 35 students. They do not have affiliate members. However, they do allow non-members to attend most of their events.
The Greece Chapter has done an outstanding job recruiting new members and providing numerous training opportunities for the local members. Their board is a dedicated group of members who have all volunteered their time and expertise to help the chapter grow.
Offering many types of events
The Greece Chapter organizes about eight events per year, which vary in attendance depending on the type of event. Normally, they host three-hour afternoon presentations that are very well attended by members and non-members alike. They celebrate the New Year with a popular networking event. They also participate as supporters to other organizations, have regular speaking events at several universities and promote awareness of the chapter in any way possible. The Greece Chapter is also a big supporter of Fraud Week. Last year, the chapter held an event during Fraud Week titled Fighting Fraud – Improving Governance. The event, hosted by Thessaloniki Municipality, a LEGA partner, was free and was aimed at practitioners, public and private sector, and anyone who is interested in fraud and corruption issues.
A unique location for a celebration
In 2018, the Greece Chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary by hosting a conference with nearly 500 attendees at Athens Concert Hall. The conference began with a jazz band during their networking breakfast. At the end of the event, the Vice President, Aris Dimitriadis, surprised the attendees with a cake with candles. The venue and the music helped add to the celebratory atmosphere.
Bringing in new members
Over the past few years, the chapter has increased its membership by approximately 25% per year. Much of the success of the growth of ACFE membership and chapter membership is due to the relationship between the Greece Chapter and the ACFE Authorised Trainer for Greece, Fraud Education Center. Since 2016, Fraud Education Center, managed by Mr. Charalampos Xydis, a former chapter director, has held CFE Exam Review Courses throughout Greece, Cyprus, Serbia and more. Once registered, attendees of the Review Courses become members of ACFE, and they remain with the chapter to attend events, maintain their CPE compliance, participate at networking opportunities and take advantage of other benefits the chapter offers.
Another way they have increased membership is by acting on feedback from their members who identified hot topics that are emerging in different industries and locations throughout Greece. In 2017, they formed an advisory board consisting of members who served as directors and appointed local certified members as ambassadors to support the chapter’s visibility in markets such as the insurance industry, the public sector, pharmaceuticals, etc.
Their greatest achievement
By far, the greatest achievement for the chapter this year has been setting up a local office. Due to cost limitations, the Hellenic American Union (a local nonprofit association) hosted the chapter’s operations on a pro bono basis for many years. In order for the chapter to continue to grow and add value for their members, they have rented a small but cozy office space in the center of Athens and hired a part-time office assistant. The office is now operational and they will be having an official grand opening event before Christmas.
The chapter does not outsource any of its operations. They invite members to volunteer their time and expertise, and this covers their needs. They only recently started using an events management company to help with the organization of their annual conference logistics. However, the chapter officers and a dedicated committee of volunteers handle choosing speakers, organizing the conference agenda and other conference logistics. For marketing, they use electronic platforms such as MailChimp and Moosend. The chapter started using Hubspot as its Customer Relationship Manager since Hubspot offers free services for nonprofit organizations.
Acknowledging who made them successful
The chapter would like to recognize former chapter president (now president emeritus), Mr. Panagiotis Georgiou, CFE, and current president, Ms. Evangelia Dimitroulia, CFE. These two are a very powerful pair that has been instrumental in the chapter's growth and prosperity. Through their efforts and personal dedication, many local members and organizations now recognize the Greece Chapter as a reputable organization.
Advice for other chapters
This year's conference is titled "Integrity: The Ultimate Brand," and we believe this sums it up. Chapters can only prosper by having excellent relationships between members and promoting integrity in all aspects through their operation.
They also try to promote a culture of family so their members feel close to the chapter and proud to be part of ACFE Greece. In that sense, they try to give back to society where possible. For example, they gave all surplus food from their events to those in need through a local non-governmental organization. They have also given a percentage of their conference earnings to a local charity.
The chapter plans to build on what has worked. The chapter will continue to expand their membership base, offer interesting and diverse trainings, and increase community outreach by forging alliances with other professional bodies and authorities.