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Start a Chapter

So you’ve decided you want to start a new Internet Society Chapter – great news! Before you start, it’s a good idea to do some groundwork and think about what exactly you want to get done. From experience, we would suggest that you’re probably better off starting small, focusing on the activities you’re really passionate about, and building on your initial success before you attempt to tackle the more complicated programmes or a longer list of objectives. Here are three steps to consider.

What will we do? Start by setting goals.

Internet Society Chapters can operate on many different levels, and you probably have great ideas for what your Chapter can achieve. But in general, start by focussing on your strengths, don’t try to do too much at once, and build momentum around those early, small successes. The bottom line is, you don’t want to build a car if you’re trying to cross an ocean, so let’s pick one or two projects for the first year and build the organization we need to successfully launch those projects. You’ll find, over time, that success tends to breed success and attracts more and more volunteers, members, and financial sponsors to your side. Early failures, on the other hand, risk driving people away and don’t reflect well on your résumé.

Once you’ve picked your first project (and ideally you have a group of like-minded individuals who want to participate), the very first step is to get everyone to agree on exactly what “success” means. This requires that you set goals for the project that, to the extent possible, are:

  • Meaningful – Is the project worth doing?
  • Measureable – If two individuals look at the result will they give it the same grade?
  • Specific – The more the better.
  • Achievable – Be realistic. We want to stretch, but not break.
  • Time-constrained – Set a date and stick to it.

With the right set of goals in hand, you can then construct the team and the plan to achieve those goals and get your chapter off to a successful start.

Next step – Identify the Resources you’ll need to make it so!

Find the help you need to run a successful Chapter

For each project, create a plan that includes the following elements:

Start with “done” and work your way back to today. You’ll do a better job of identifying and allocating the resources needed to get there.

A list of who is responsible for what. Every project includes multiple responsibilities. Break down projects into functions and decide who will be taking care of each function. For example, if you are running a meeting, someone will need to oversee programme planning; someone else will need to secure a room and make sure it is set up; someone else will need to be responsible for promotion; and so on.

A timeline for getting the project completed. Be sure to include schedules for completing all of the steps along the way.

Interim benchmarks. Include a mechanism that enables everyone involved to check in throughout the process to be sure that everything is going according to plan.

Equipment and facitilies. If possible, can you secure partners or sponsors who can contribute these to the project?

Communications and reporting. During the project-planning phase, make sure there is a way for everyone to report on progress (or lack of progress). You want to know ahead of time if aspects of the project are behind schedule or running into problems.

Celebrating accomplishment. This is a critical step in the process. If you want to ensure future successes, be sure to spread the kudos and thanks far and wide!

With your first year’s goals and plan in hand, go to Complete and Submit an Application to the Internet Society.

How do we apply to become an Internet Society Chapter?

To become an official Chapter of the Internet Society you need to apply for recognition and provide the following documents:

These documents should be returned to the Chapter Administration Staff.

Chapter applications are valid for 6 months. The Chapter formation process, including receipt for all documents mentioned above, needs to be completed within this timeframe, after which the application will expire.

If you have any further questions, please contact chapter-application@isoc.org.

Click here to see the tools and resources the Internet Society provides to help Chapters succeed.