GBEN Affiliate Week: GBEN’s Membership Committee Processes to Create an Engaged, Diverse Membership Organization by Chantal Hoff

Hello and welcome back! I’m Chantal Hoff (she/her), Evaluation Consultant at MXM Research Group and Membership Committee co-chair for the Greater Boston Evaluation Network (GBEN).

What are we up to?

Following a strategic planning process, GBEN’s Membership Committee currently has three focus areas: 1) Membership, 2) Engagement, and 3) Community-building. 

  • Goals: 
    • Increase the size of GBEN membership.
    • Improve the diversity of GBEN membership. 
  • Progress: In collaboration with our DEI committee, and building upon our DEI strategic plan, we created a membership demographics survey to track progress towards our strategic goal of building a diverse GBEN.
  • Goals:
    • Create mechanisms for new and returning members to fully use the opportunities available through their membership.
    • Foster transparency and communication between the executive team, committees, and the broader membership. 
  • Progress: In the past year, we hosted two New Member Orientation sessions on Zoom. These sessions provide new GBEN members the information they need to make the most of their membership, build connections with other members, and learn how they can actively participate in GBEN’s offerings (e.g., leading a programming event, joining a committee, running for a leadership position).
  • Goals:
    • Offer a variety of formal and informal spaces to enable members to connect, network and collaborate with each other organically.
    • Create a community of care among our members.
  • Progress: This summer, we held our first in-person social in more than two years. We worked hard to identify locations that would meet the needs of our membership – including cost of participation, location, and outdoor space to minimize COVID concerns. We had a great turnout that included new and long-time GBEN members as well as prospective members! After our event, we used GBEN’s Guiding Questions for?Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (you’ll read about these tomorrow) as a framework for reflecting on what went well and what we’d like to improve for the future.
How did we get here?
A visualization of GBEN's membership committee process
GBEN’s membership committee process

Strategic planning: In 2021 and into 2022, GBEN underwent a lengthy strategic planning process in order to incorporate the GBEN DEI Strategic Plan into our work. Membership committee co-chairs participated in these planning processes and brought these conversations back to the committee to iteratively refine the work of our committee. These conversations informed our ideas for the three focus areas.

Visioning through conversation: We facilitated several conversations – within our own committee, Executive team members, and the broader GBEN leadership -about the meanings of community and engagement in our organization as well as gather feedback about desired activities.

Identification of themes: After this data-gathering process, we reconvened as a committee to identify major themes from these discussions and brainstormed activities based on these themes.

Prioritization and consensus: We independently rated the proposed activities to help prioritize the work and came back together as a committee to build consensus around which activities we would pursue.

Implementation: Once we agreed upon our activities, we distributed the leadership of activities amongst committee members and used our monthly meetings as working meetings to move the work along and troubleshoot together.

Hot Tip:

One of my favorite group agreements, inspired by a Simon Sinek quote, is “No one knows everything…together we know a lot.” Our committee knew that we wanted our work to be rooted in the interests and needs of our broader membership. Spending time and care to gather information and receive critical feedback from GBEN leaders, committee members, and the membership, added complexity to the work and ultimately made it stronger. 

Rad Resource:

We loved using Google Jamboard to help facilitate our conversations about community and engagement. It provided a way for lots of members to share their voices and created a rich dataset to guide the work.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Greater Boston Evaluation Network (GBEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from GBEN members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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