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Room to Grow

27 August 2020 by Sara Drake

Branches offer a key service to professional members in their local area

Last month, I met with 28 of our Branch Chairs at our new Chairs’ Forum. Held virtually out of necessity, the meeting was an unprecedented opportunity to share the ideas and experience of chairs across our whole division from the UK to the Caribbean, Africa to the Indian Ocean and many places in between.

Our branches provide a visible and accessible face for the Institute at a local level. Each one offers a key service to our professional membership in their area. Benefits include the free and low cost CPD activities as well as local networking opportunities for members to engage with each other and the Institute. Branch activity raises the Institute’s profile and by doing so, creates opportunities to grow membership.

The Chairs’ Forum discussed the role of our branches and in particular how building on their strengths supports the Institute to deliver on a key part of our strategy to support and grow our membership.

In theory, all members and students have access to a local branch, based upon their home address. In practice not all locations in which our members live have an active branch and not all members who have a branch are aware of it. To address this, we will redefine our branch areas over the coming weeks. We will also improve our communication with members and students about their local branch events and how much value they offer.

The first step will be to make branch affiliation part of every members’ experience. In the UK, we are realigning branch areas with Government Office regions. This will provide branch coverage for every member and student in the country and create more sustainable branch sizes.

Outside the UK, members in jurisdictions where there is no branch will be affiliated to the nearest branch in their region. As a result many of our branches in the Associated Territories will become bigger, stronger, more diverse and able to reach and support more members.

These changes will be made in September, offering over 5,000 more members and students access to a branch and the benefits that they offer. Growing branch membership will create fresh stimulus by bringing in new volunteers and ideas onto committees. Branches will also be able to welcome and support more members through their activities and broaden the kinds of events that they provide. Some branches are already looking at how they will collaborate to share expertise and give their members more choice and variety in areas of common interest.

At the same time, communications will broaden out to include all members. By increasing he availability of information on local branch activities we will ensure the benefits of being involved at a local level are available across the membership.

An essential benefit of our branches is grounded in their knowledge of where they operate and their ability to build relationships which support members. These include their knowledge of local employers and regulators as well as legislators. We will encourage this by making it easier for members to share knowledge and work together. From this autumn, we will publish our membership roll by branch to facilitate local networking and to raise the profile of members. When the new branch areas come into effect, we will add a branch search to our Directory of Members to enable this. Both the directory entry and members’ communication preferences can be managed in MyCG.

With these commitments to empower our branches, and the energy and commitment of our amazing volunteers, our network is set to flourish in the coming year. I look forward to seeing it going from strength to strength as a real asset to our governance community and urge you to get involved when you can. If you have any questions, or would like to make contact with your local committee, do drop the team a line at branchsupport@icsa.org.uk.

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