ACB Membership Seminar Tidbits

compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The theme of this year’s membership seminar was “How Affiliates Can Be Inclusive and Remain Viable.” The first panel, “How to connect members using alternate meeting structure and social media,” featured Alice McGrath, California Council of Blind Women; Ron Brooks, ACB Families; and John McCann, Blind Information Technology Specialists. On our follow-up focus call, others added to the input from the convention.
Some options for alternate meeting structure include:

  • Meetings online: TeenTalk is online talking. If you have a co-host, it helps with continuity.  The audio is better with Skype, but depends on the connection. TeenTalk has step-by-step online courses.
  • CCB Women have a listserv to discuss personal situations and share upcoming quarterly conference calls on specific woman-related life topics, lend support to one another, have breakfast at convention, and occasional special events.
  • Washington has monthly and quarterly conference calls on careers, diabetes, technology, and books. Anyone can join a call. A list of those can be found on their website:
  • ACB Families has bimonthly conference calls on different topics and held a membership promotion to get more people interested. They share photos of their families on their Facebook page, along with their affiliate information.
  • Many affiliates use e-mail discussion lists, and send announcements via e-mail. Posting events on Facebook attracts the interest of more than just members. You can post photos from prior events and share more at the event.
  • Having a monthly or quarterly birthday get-together can keep more people involved in your chapter.
  • Producing a quarterly newsletter may keep members updated when they cannot attend regularly. Many have special events such as an annual picnic and Christmas party.

The second panel discussed how to protect your affiliate’s important records. Speakers were Sally Benjamin, Florida Council of the Blind; Steve Fiksdal, Washington Council of the Blind; and Nancy Becker, ACB Minnesota office. Important points on this topic are below.

  • It is essential for more than one person in your affiliate or chapter to have your necessary functioning records, both online and hard copy.
  • Dropbox is a sharing program where officers with an e-mail account can access the same documents.
  • Tax filings need to be filed by all affiliates. Chapters can be linked with an affiliate, but their fundraising information needs to be gathered by the parent affiliate. Separate filings can be set up for chapters of an affiliate as well but consistency is necessary so a chapter doesn’t lose its 501(c)(3) status.
  • Your website can have archives of your minutes, resolutions, treasurer’s reports, committee reports, and recordings of your conferences.
  • Florida is now scanning its hard-copy files and photos.
  • At least three people should have access to your 501(c)(3) organization papers, incorporation papers, policy manuals, as well as website and checking accounts, passwords and account numbers.
  • All computers used should have back-up systems, both an external drive and online storage.
  • Some use One Drive with Windows 10 to share with others.
  • The Affiliate Membership Management System (AMMS) should be used by all affiliates. It helps keep all records in one place.

The Affiliate Growth Awards were given this year to ACB Government Employees for the highest percentage of growth and to the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International for the highest number of new members. ACBGE credited its growth to an organized effort in communicating with past and possible new members. CCLVI had been more organized and updated its website, which included a “join CCLVI” link. Committee members distributed hand-outs on keeping your affiliate safe and legal and resources for those losing sight. If you would like a copy, contact the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666 and leave your name, address, and format preference (braille or large print).