Announcing the Chapter OS Pilot Chapters: Here’s to the early adopters!
These days we’ve become used to being part of experiments, even if we don’t realize it. Every day software developers release the minimum viable version of their apps, put it out into the marketplace, and most of us are willing to at least try it out.
Trying out a new app is one thing. We pause, though, when we get that notice to upgrade our entire operating system–that little push notification that casually tells you to check your storage, download this new system, install it, then restart your computer. The developer is sending you this notification because they’ve made improvements to the system that, based on your previous feedback, they know will make your software run better. But what if the upgrade creates an annoyance like changing the way that you interact with a program that you’ve gotten used to? Or worse, what if it crashes your computer?!
Most of us say, no thanks, we’ll wait till version 126.96.36.199 when they’ve worked most of the bugs out. (I’ll admit it, I tend to be a version 188.8.131.52 kinda gal myself.) Which is why I have such incredible respect for the early adopters, the folks who get that push notification and immediately prepare for download.
We know that, in many ways, the Chapter OS feels like asking the network to download a new system. Last year as we prepared for a major upgrade to our network’s operating system, we sent out a call for chapters who were willing to sign up for that experiment, test the system, and make it better. During this pilot phase we’ll be working any bugs out of the system so that we can bring you the best possible product when the time comes for the rest of the network to join us.
The pilot phase is designed to help us figure out what national supports and resources are necessary to get chapters to the basic level of infrastructure necessary for higher level strategy and programming. What does that look like initially?
Specifically, we’re looking for all chapters to:
- Be on the NationBuilder platform
- Have a defined membership program (paid or unpaid)
- Be recognized as a legal entity in their state (if they are not already) and be able to process financial transactions
- Have D&O insurance
- Have a clear sense of chapter strengths and immediate strategic priorities for growth
Almost a quarter of the chapters across our network applied to serve as our modern-day scouts, volunteering to go out ahead and discover the bugs and the cool features of the system for the rest of us. It was difficult to narrow the list to just 7 chapters but we focused on creating a group that would best position us to begin the full network onboarding in June. So we compiled a group that demonstrated these two core characteristics:
1. The diversity of the network: We have chapters across our network that range from 250 members to over 10,000 members, chapters in dense urban areas and chapters in smaller cities and towns. We have chapters with almost two decades of established infrastructure, and chapters that are less than six months old. This diversity is what fuels the vitality of our network and we looked for a group that would help us develop supports that would meet the needs of our vast array of chapters at different stages of development.
2. The ability to serve as a critical friend: Of course we were eager to work with chapters who see the great potential of the Chapter OS, but nobody wins when they spend all their time with that friend who tells you “You look great in that outfit!” when you actually look jank. We sought out chapters who were enthusiastic about the possibilities and were willing to challenge us about the parts of the OS that simply would not work for them.
It’s an impressive group that we’ve assembled. You can read more below about who they are and why we chose them. You can also follow along with their journey (really, our entire network’s journey!) via the twice monthly blogs they’ll be posting here on the Leaders’ Site and via the Program Xchange they’ll be hosting in a few months. Our pilot chapters will also be faciltiating a conference session in Little Rock to talk about their experience with all of you and share what they’ve learned.
Our sincere thanks to all who applied to serve as pilots and our congratulations to the intrepid chapters selected to blaze the trail. Our network will be the better for it.
Meet the Pilots
Those of you who were at the 2014 conference got to experience first-hand the awesome execution abilities of YNPN Twin Cities. With their inventive programming, YNPN-TC is engaging their community in new and exciting ways and they see NationBuilder as a tool that can help them do that with even more ease and sophistication. YNPN-TC currently utilizes a member database and they’ll be helping us test how chapters on existing databases can easily make the transition to NationBuilder, as well as how we can make NationBuilder even more useful for chapters. We can always count on YNPN-TC to share knowledge and provide thoughtful feedback and we’re excited to have them as a partner.
In less than four years, YNPN Atlanta has launched a successful paid membership program, obtained their 501(c)(3), and put in place systems that have allowed them to become a lean, mean, professional development machine. Now they want to know how they can use data to more effectively direct their resources and measure their impact. In addition to growing their membership program, they also want to use NationBuilder to improve engagement and increase retention as their chapter continues to grow.
Founded in 2014, YNPN Birmingham is our youngest pilot chapter. As a younger chapter, being able to attract members and cultivate relationships is a key growth area and they’re looking forward to exploring how the Chapter Operating System and NationBuilder can support that work. During the pilot, YNPN Birmingham and National will work together to help their chapter accomplish other goals like obtaining their legal status, opening a bank account, and developing a membership program.
With more than 3,000 people on their mailing list, YNPN San Diego has a huge reach in their community. To capitalize on that reach, they’ve been working on growing their paid membership program and increasing giving among members and supporters. Right now their data lives in three different systems provided by their fiscal sponsor and they believe that consolidating on NationBuilder will help them use their data more effectively to accomplish their engagement and revenue goals. YNPN San Diego is also looking forward to helping build National’s support resources and engaging with other chapters in the network to share knowledge.
It’s hard to believe that YNPN Portland was only founded two years ago. In that short period of time they have been able to develop outstanding programming as well as partnerships that help them connect with other diverse groups in their city. YNPN Portland recently went through their first big board turnover and is eager to learn how the Chapter Operating System can help them develop systems, infrastructure, and strategy that can be effective through the years. Membership and revenue generation are growth areas for YNPN Portland that they’re excited to explore during the pilot process.
YNPN OKC is another young chapter that’s been able to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. This year they launched a successful paid membership program and are excited to use NationBuilder to manage membership and track members’ interests and needs. They’re also eager to help us test how NationBuilder and the Chapter Operating System can be an effective marketing tool that will help them grow membership, increase retention, and cultivate members for increased involvement and board service. YNPN OKC is also bringing a deep bench of data-driven board members to the pilot process.
As our host chapter for this year’s conference, YNPN Little Rock is excited to utilize NationBuilder to help make #ynpn15 amazing. Hosting the national conference is a great way to galvanize the local community and YNPN Little Rock is looking forward to using NationBuilder to track and stay in touch with local participants and members. With projects like their Arkansas Voice survey, YNPN LR has also had a longstanding interest in using data to identify community needs and contribute to sector knowledge in their state. Because of the leadership roles they’ve taken on in the network this year, YNPN Little Rock is a great chapter to help us test the Chapter OS and NationBuilder from a variety of angles.
Keep following this blog for more updates on the Chapter OS from National and these pilot chapters!