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How to start a SMCRAC Chapter in Your Area (Region) or an International Chapter

On this page:

  • Introduction
  • Starting a Local (Regional) Chapter
  • Connecting with the SMCRAC Association
  • Appendices: Sample Flyers and First Meeting Agenda

Starting a Local Chapter /Group:

It is important to first check with the SMCRAC’s national office to see if there is already a group in your area. You can do this either by mailing/calling the SMCRAC office, emailing us at smcracoffice@gmail.com, or visiting the section of our website dealing with existing local (regional) groups. If a group does not exist, be sure to ask if there are people in your area who have expressed interest in forming a group or chapter. For local groups to be successful, it usually involves a core of committed volunteers. So the first step is to locate them. There are several ways this can be achieved. Chartering your SMCRAC chapter is important as it allows your chapter, and your individual chapter members, official recognition by SMCRAC National committee, providing access to all the organization’s offerings, leadership trainings, member discount benefits and more. The chartering process at SMCRAC is really very simple, so there’s no reason not to. Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  • Get at least 5 active SMCRAC members: This is important, so make sure your members have officially joined before your petition is reviewed.
  • Submit an application and a copy of your Constitution & Bylaws: The application is online and couldn’t be easier. Additionally, sample constitution & bylaws are provided for quick and easy modification.
  • Pass a chartering resolution at the SMCRAC – National Convention: We take it from here, so just sit back and wait for us to do our thing.

We are here to guide you through each step – from recruitment, to coordinating with SMCRAC National Commission, to getting your chartering resolution passed at the annual convention.

Required to Charter:

There are two parts to chartering your chapter – the application to petition and your local chapter Constitution & Bylaws. The application to petition is an online form. After filling out this form, you will be asked to email us your local chapter Constitution & Bylaws (samples are provided below which you may use to draft up your own version). Both the application and the chapter Constitution & Bylaws must be submitted to Chief Secretary- SMCRAC to be considered for chartering.  

What Happens Next?

After submitting the required information to the national office, your application will be reviewed. If your application is not complete, you will be notified via email. If it is complete, your request is magically transformed into a resolution. These resolutions are edited by a reference committee and then presented to the House of Delegates at the national convention in March. The body of the House votes and presto!, your chapter is chartered. Now the wonderful world of SMCRAC opens its doors for you and your colleagues to experience. There are numerous activities to get involved in: Action Committees, Legislative Affairs, conventions and SMCRAC national seminar, meetings, conferences, awards, social gatherings, charity auctions, celebrity gala nights, etc. Not to mention the individual benefits. See if it is possible to post a flier or leave one on a literature table.

  • Also post/leave fliers (with permission) in bookstores, community centers, libraries, coffee houses, other cultural locales and nearby college campuses.
  • Attend meetings of educationist, social workers, activists and free thought groups that are a distance away from your home. Not only will you begin to gain an understanding of how local groups work, you may find that there are activists in these groups that live close to you, but only have the option to attend more distant meetings.
  • In a similar vein, you should go to the “SMCRAC Chapters” link on our website, and look up Chapter leaders from your state or region. They are usually more than willing to help a fledging new group get off the ground, and you can gain many insights into the mechanics of starting a new group by talking with them. Since face-to-face conversations produce a far greater yield, consider driving to meet with a Chapter leader.
  • Place a small ad in the religion section of the local newspaper. Or place ads in your city’s alternative paper. Both of these require that you call your local newspaper, and inquire about cost and dimensions to place a small add. Some newspapers, once you provide the text, may even create the ad for you. Newspapers and magazines have varying resources available, so be sure to utilize them. The SMCRAC also has sample ads that can be used.

Understandably, it can be intimidating to go to a meeting of strangers for the first time, and work up the nerve to introduce yourself and explain that you are looking for people to help form a SMCRAC social group. However, most of the groups that you approach will more than likely be sympathetic. So even if they’re not personally interested in working to form a chapter or group, they may provide leads for others who are, which is also valuable. Personal contact is also one of the best ways to approach people. In order to reach large numbers of people at one time, it is of course necessary to leave fliers and place ads. However, a personal touch is always the optimal choice. Going to meetings of like-minded groups and putting a name, face and story behind your efforts to start a local (regional) chapter will more likely get people involved.

Finding and Organizing:

In all of the above situations, people who want to know more about your plans will approach you, or you will need to approach others about your desire to start a local chapter. Not only must you maintain a basic level of organization to keep all of your contacts straight, you need spark the interest of potential members. If you go to a local activist meetings or seminar and want to approach people about staring a group, or are getting responses to your fliers, are you prepared? Do you know what you want to say? Can you quickly explain what you envision the purpose of a group to be? Can you list off the help you need from volunteers? It is important to take some prep time before going to meetings or have a quick “spiel” ready for the phone. As an example, in response to “Why do you want to form a Local chapter / group in the area?” you could say: “I have lots of reasons I want to get a group going. First, I want to be able to give local activist a place to meet and interact with each other. There are so few of us that I think it’s healthy for us to meet and be able to talk. We need to opportunity to share our concerns with each other and whatnot. Another reason is that I’ve noticed a governmental national & Regional accreditation body evaluates education providers on a regional policy framework and grants them Primary Accreditation. However due to globalization and rapid expansion of educational setup all around the world has created the need of a global entity which can evaluate them against internationally proven standards of education and grant them an internationally recognized private Secondary Accreditation which can act as a quality assurance and endorsement of their work., and I think it’s a good idea if there is a specific social response to what they’re trying to do.”

Preparing yourself to answer these types of question will show that you are prepared, and have given serious thought to these matters. Being able to articulate your reasons will go a long way to securing interest in your group. If you have a list of suggested people to contact, you may also want to think up a short blurb for when you meet, talk with them on the phone, or correspond with them via email. The basics of this would be the same as the above example, but you might need to preface it a bit. “Hello. This is Mr. / Ms. and I’m getting in touch with you because I’m interested in starting a local group of SMCRAC in the area and so-and-so suggested that I get in touch with you about it. Do you think that you might be interested in doing something with a group that focuses on furthering international accreditation to the education providers to serve as external private secondary accreditation, enhance the organization’s regional accreditation and assures stakeholders that the educational program, policies and procedures of the institute, university and school are up to the international standards of quality assurance. We represent an organizational commitment to delivering quality which is at par with the global standards. We assure the institutes & its students that their degrees & credits will have increased acceptability around the world, should they decide to study or work abroad. So let us start this at the local level?”. So now, you finally have a small group of people who are interested. It is important to keep a master list of these people. A list would include names, contact information (mailing address, phone number, email address) and what the person might be willing to do for the group. The strongest assets of any local chapter are its members and it’s no different for a fledging CIAC group. A list helps maintain order during the formative phases of group development. It can also ensure that all the basic information about the group isn’t in the head of only one person.

Preparing and Planning:

Once you have that core group of volunteers, it is a good idea to hold small meetings to hash out some of the details about the group. For the initial meetings, it might be better to use a bookstore, coffee shop, or other public venue. This is a time to get your bearings and work with others to flush out some of the ideas and reasons for the existence of the group. Though you probably have some reasons for why you want to start a social worker’s group, it is also vital to hear the views of others. They may be able to provide alternative views that will help strengthen the group in the long term. It is also a time to ask some questions that will be vital to the group’s success. These include:

  • What is the reason for forming a new group?
  • What do people want to see the group do? Activism, social events, support network, educational opportunities, service opportunities and philosophical discussion are just a few of the activities a social group can engage in.
  • What sort of leadership structure should there be? Countless examples have shown that democratically orientated leadership structures are usually the most successful.
  • Once the core group of volunteers decides on these issues – and in order to maintain the momentum that has been created – this is a good time to hold a first official meeting that is open to the public. Even though your core group may already have met on numerous occasions, a “coming out” meeting is a great way to attract new participants, as well as the media.
  • It might also be a good idea to go back to the places in which you had previous placed fliers, and to leave a new flier, announcing the first meeting of the group. Be sure to contact the SMCRAC national office when you decide to have your first public meeting. We might be able to provide speakers, publicity, and other support.

In the Beginning:

This first meeting is important. In addition to getting to know your fellow members and social worker, it is a time to have an open discussion about what participants want to get out of the group. Some basic questions include:

  • Why are people interested in joining?
  • What do people want to get out of it?
  • How often does the group want to meet?

These are questions that should be discussed by everybody. However, it is important to remember that, even though it is an open discussion, someone should still remain in charge to facilitate and make sure the conversation flows forward. It is helpful for the first meeting; to have one person with an agenda leads the meeting and makes sure that all the important points are covered.

Connecting with the SMCRAC Global:

Another vitally important issue to discuss is what sort of relationship the group wants to have with the SMCRAC. A working relationship between the SMCRAC and local chapter groups is beneficial for both parties. The SMCRAC is always excited about helping to start local social workers groups, and works hard to support and sustain them. Our combined years of experience with local groups, along with many of our resources that we can usually provide for free, or at cost, can help our groups flourish. We hope that the relationship that is built between local group leaders and SMCRAC field staff is one that will also translate into a willingness to establish a formal relationship between the two organizations. There are two types of relationships a local group can engage in with the SMCRAC. A local group can become an Affiliate or a Chartered Chapter. A brief overview follows. Let us know at the national office which type of relationship you are interested in pursuing, and we will provide you with more information on it. Affiliates, many of whom are primarily associated with other national organizations, are local groups who agree with the mission of the SMCRAC while maintaining a clear and separate identity. Affiliates receive benefits from the SMCRAC with a minimal amount of commitment. Affiliating with the SMCRAC is a good first step for some local groups to gain exposure to the wider educational community.

Some Benefits Include:

  • Affiliates’ contact information will be publicized on the SMCRAC’s website
  • Affiliates will receive bimonthly newsletter & current happenings.
  • Affiliates will have low cost and sometimes free access to resources. This includes pamphlets, magazines, books and speakers.

Being a Chartered Chapter of the SMCRAC involves a close level of relationship. Chartered Chapters are in substantial agreement with the SMCRAC’s policies, goals and mission. Being a part of the structure of the SMCRAC, Chartered Chapters receive preference when it comes to the allocation of resources. The SMCRAC and its Chartered Chapters work together, which allows for a clear sense of identification and a chance for unity of action, all toward the goal of advancing SMCRAC. Chapters receive all the benefits of Affiliates and may receive priority in the allocation of those resources.

Additional Benefits Include:

  • Chartered Chapters will be able to join the SMCRAC’s Chapter Assembly. The Chapter Assembly is an organization within the SMCRAC run by Chapter leaders that exists to serve as a forum to address Chapter issues, as well as ensure that the Chapters have a voice within the SMCRAC.
  • The SMCRAC can also assist with developing press releases and speeches for public events.

To learn more about any or all of these exciting relationships that your group can form with the SMCRAC, contact us now at smcracoffice@gmail.com

We welcome you into the exciting and ever changing global movement. It is through the dedication and hard work of people such as yourself that we are where we are today. With your drive and ingenuity, the potential exists to further advance social work into society. The SMCRAC is excited about that possibility, and wants to work with you to make it happen.

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