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The IMBA Chapter Congress: The Making of our New Association

The second IMBA Chapter Congress will convene on October 12 at the IMBA World Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is an important gathering of IMBA staff, board members and chapter leaders as we determine our 2013/14 agenda for what and how we jointly improve and grow our programs and operations.

To understand the Chapter Congress and its agenda is to understand that IMBA is becoming an entirely new organization. Our recent emphasis on the chapter program has produced a faster-growing, more tightly-knit association than the IMBA of old. The Chapter Congress will showcase the fact that IMBA's national office and its local chapters are strongly united by common missions, and mutually enhanced through joint funding, shared business systems and common resources.

Is this to say that IMBA is shunning its history as an association of non-chapter clubs? No. The loosely knit club structure served us well for 20-plus years. But it did not do enough to support the over-worked and under-resourced volunteers running their local organizations.

While the old association passed along know-how, it didn't help carry the heavy burden of operating an organization day-to-day. Dedicated club leaders embarked on development of their own business systems and infrastructure. Those same volunteers licked many an envelope attempting to keep up with the never-ending membership renewal process. Many clubs acquired their IRS tax exempt status, even while building their websites and databases. They (usually) remembered to file the club's annual tax return and keep their insurance policies current.

For many of these volunteers — some of them serving for more than a decade with little support — burn-out was the result. It came on like a tsunami for volunteers who selflessly mothballed their mountain bikes in order to meet the never-ending demands of running a club.

The new association of IMBA chapters is the lifeboat. At the Chapter Congress in Santa Fe, we will work together to strengthen our plan for building local capacity while at the same time increasing IMBA's national capacity, which then is reinvested in furthering local capacity. Today, there are 102 IMBA Chapters. The vision is coming into focus as those clubs that became chapters two years ago are seeing their capacity increase to the point that hiring paid staff is becoming financially feasible.

IMBA's group of soon-to-be-eight paid region directors is tangible evidence of the increased capacity of the emerging chapter association.

If you are in a leadership role in an IMBA Chapter, please do not miss this opportunity to join your voice to the 101 other IMBA Chapters that, together with IMBA, will be identifying and setting the agenda for what's next.

What systems and infrastructure needs further investment? What programs are top priority for achieving our common missions? How do we work more closely in our fundraising? We are in this together more than ever, certainly more so than the old association where eventually it seemed clubs and IMBA were in competition with one another. IMBA chapter success means IMBA national success. So IMBA's priorities must align with our chapter's priorities. And that's the work we will pursue at the 2012 IMBA Chapter Congress.

I look forward to seeing you there.



The IMBA Chapter Program is supported generously by funding from SRAM.


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