Problem: Create accurate tool for predicting and monitoring chapter performance.
Solution: Created education hours spreadsheet that breaks down education attendance hours by local live programs/webinars, Regional and national events.
Strategy: The New Hampshire-Vermont Chapter knew that the best way to stay on track for success is to set reasonable expectations and closely monitor performance. They use the PPT and DCMS reports along with the Membership Satisfaction Survey, suggestions from our CAT consultant, and their Strategic Plan to create a spreadsheet to accurately budget for education and to track their success throughout the year.
It all starts with the initial planning. Historically, the chapter began its planning in May, but last year they in March. “We called a meeting for a preplanning kickoff, explained the committee mission, purpose, importance to chapter, and ways to get involved with education” says Sandra Pinette, president-elect of the New Hampshire-Vermont Chapter. The entire chapter was invited and it was held during their Annual Meeting.
“It’s great if people can have that opportunity for input at an annual meeting or event,” says Pinette. “It’s a good place to recruit and a great way to get people excited about the committee and ways to involve both experienced and new volunteers.”
“We told the participants, “These are the areas where the chapter has opportunities to better serve our members and deliver on our mission,” says Pinette. The chapter offered opportunities to be involved in the committee and in the chapter.
At the official planning meeting conducted after LTC in May, the chapter invited those who attended previously along with the entire chapter. They asked participants to review the reports and evaluations and identify: Where did we hit it out of the park? Where do the numbers say we are going?
To develop the chapter’s education plan, they started with the premise: We have to provide X number of hours, how will we meet that?
“We understood that in order to meet our goal and deliver meaningful, timely education to our members we had to ‘think outside the box,’ ” says Pinette. “Budgets are limited so we needed various ways to deliver education to our members that give them much needed information and value.”
Break It Down
They started with the historical data from the PPT, the CBSC, and DCMS and broke it out into local events, regional events, and national events.
For the local events, both live onsite and webinars they looked at the last two to three years to get averages for the actual hours and attendance, but they also looked at topics and location. “We saw that webinar attendance was going up, and some typical topics were falling off. We looked at location, too, along with the demographics of our membership. Did the numbers indicate that the location was good?
Next, they looked at Regional events like the Region 1 Conference and figured averages over the last three years. Finally, they looked at the average number of hours they earned from national events.
These averages—combined with member feedback from their Membership Satisfaction Surveys that identified what was working for members and what was not—were the basis for their future forecasts.
Another benefit of the projection spreadsheet is budgeting, both for the financial aspects and for the education hours aspect. The chapter can use it for financial statements to track revenue and expenses. But it also helps with forecasting.
“We repeat some programs for a few years in a row,” says Pinette. “Cost report and Reimbursement are both popular. I’ve been able to look at final budget and education numbers and say that, on average, we get X members at X dollars, and X non-members at X dollars, and determine what the expenses were. We take an average of each element, round down for revenue and round up for expenses. That gives us conservative estimates when we do our education budget.”
In doing all this forecasting Pinette worked closely with her co-chair. “I ran everything by him and each program coordinator to get their feedback. I said—this is my estimate, how do you feel about that-does this make sense?”
“I wasn’t the one who completely came up with how to review the hours,” says Pinette. “I knew I had to figure out a forecasting method, so I talked to past presidents and got some recommendations and created the spreadsheet template.”
Use Your Mentors
“It’s all about going back to your mentors and your resources,” she says. It’s important to engage both experienced and new stakeholders to work together.
To keep the process on track, the leadership has regular check in calls with the committee. If something doesn’t look like it’s going where they want or if someone’s having problems, they get together and provide help.
Listen to Your Data
At least every month (sometimes more, depending on the number of events) Pinette and the committee review the DCMS and PPT reports. “We look at our spreadsheet to see where we are with actual numbers and our forecasted numbers, what worked, and what didn’t. The spreadsheet helps track what topics are really hot, and identify what we want to do for next year.
For example, the chapter’s Member Satisfaction Survey identified that one of the topics members wanted education on was ACOs; the problem is that in a 2-state chapter, location is always an issue. “We asked: How do we deliver at the right time, in the right place,” says Pinette. “Should we do half-day or full-day?” Each had some appeal.
In the end, they decided to do it at midway point, in a location that was a little remote, but they felt that topic would carry it. Ninety-three people registered and despite a snowstorm, 70 actually showed up. In the end, New Hampshire-Vermont went over its budget for attendee hours for the event by 40.
Right topic, right time, right location.
“The data helps us quantify and measure,” says Pinette.