Creating A Sense of Community In Your Association

Feb 13, 2024

Contributed by Sophia Smith | Arizona State University DECA, AZ

Arizona Collegiate DECA has focused on engagement and retention this academic year. We were able to increase our attendance at every association conference this year. Here’s how we built our community.

TIP 1: The Name Game

Although it may seem obvious, getting all your chapter's members to know each other's names and interests outside of DECA encourages friendship, decreases the potential for cliques within your chapter or association and fosters inclusion. Additionally, it humanizes your interactions with fellow members, allowing individuals to see beyond the professional context and see other members’ unique personalities, hobbies and interests.

TIP 2: Get Social

Engage in non-competition events, such as fundraising socials, mentorship mixers and workshops. These are great for bringing chapter members with similar interests together. This is also a way to ensure that your members who may choose not to participate in competitive events still experience a difference in DECA. Not only does this foster a sense of community, but it's also great for recruitment.

TIP 3: Inclusion Is Key

With a significant number of new members each year, joining DECA means learning new concepts. Educate new members about what a role play is, the different types of competitions and the lingo so everyone feels included. Create opportunities for new members to learn and existing members to share by offering a mentorship program.

TIP 4: Use Your Legacy of Leadership

Involving advisors and alumni allows new members to see how DECA will benefit their future and shows a legacy of leadership. Many have useful resources for hosting fun bonding activities in meetings and are a connection and friendly face for new members.

TIP 5: Listen

There is only community with members attending and being engaged at your events, meetings and socials! Request member feedback and implement it when you can so members feel empowered, heard and benefited. As an association, we open the floor for anonymous feedback after every conference. This will help especially with retention!


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