Activity Chairman Handbook


SIR Branch 8 Handbook for New Chairmen

May 2023




                                           NEW ACTIVITY

                                           TAKING OVER RESPONSIBILITY FOR AN EXISTING ACTIVITY

                                           SET UP A MEETING AND MAKE AN AGENDA

                                           AVAILABLE RESOURCES



As a valued, contributing member of SIR Branch 8 and as a leader, you are demonstrating your interest in adding to the excellent reputation of Branch 8. Chairman of an activity is a vital position in Branch 8.  As a chairman, you will have all of Branch 8’s tools and management resources at your disposal.


New Activity Chairmen and/or Activity Chairmen for new activities should immediately talk with:

  1. Branch 8 Activity Coordinating Committee (ACC) representatives.
  2. Hotline coordinator*
  3. Web master*
  4. AMS Coordinator*

As the new activity is organized, the chairman should meet with interested participants to outline what he pictures the activity to look like and starts an interactive discussion to ensure that all participants agree on the goals of the activity, meeting structure, and dates for activities. 

Ongoing, the activity chairman should make announcements and promote the activity at every opportunity.  He should be creative and use every resource available to publicize his Activity (see Available Resources section below). 


There are several Branch 8 tools that will helpful to you in chairing your new activity.  These include:

  • creating newsletter articles (Hotline),
  • maintaining your activity page on the Branch 8 WEB site, and
  • maintaining AMS (Activity Management System, your on-line activity membership records).

Up-dates to these tools are easy to prepare and training in how to do them will be provided (see Available Resources below).  It is important to acquire one or more Assistant Chairmen to help with planning and execution of your activity program after you get started.

Your initial contact should be with the Activity Coordinating Committee representative.

Describe your proposed activity to the Activity Coordinating Committee to see if it meets the qualification criteria of the SIR Organization, including insurance coverage of the activity.  Most activities will.  The Activity Coordinating Committee will handle getting Branch Executive Committee (BEC) approval for your new activity.  

You can then get some assistance from the Activity Coordinating Committee representative in

  • setting up a general E-Mail notification of your activity,
  • obtaining luncheon interest cards,
  • getting an announcement for the branch monthly luncheon or a luncheon lobby table to advise the branch membership of your plan to start the new activity. You can make an announcement yourself or ask the Activity Coordinating Committee to announce it at a monthly luncheon in order to encourage members to join in the fun.

Once you have responses from interested members, contact them and set up a “1st meeting”.  “SET UP MEETING AND MAKE AN AGENDA” section of this handbook will be helpful.


If you are assuming the Activity Chairman’s position of an Existing Activity the transition in leadership should be smooth and simple.  If you are a new member of the Activity, and are becoming the new Activity Chairman, select an Assistant Chairman as quickly as possible to help ensure a smooth transition and the continued success of the Activity.  Other Activity members will also be there to help you along as you take over leadership.  You can also get the assigned Activity Coordinating Committee representative to help you get started.  See the “AVAILABLE RESOURCES” section of this Handbook for additional contact/ functional information. 


After you have identified Activity participants you will set up your first meeting.

Once you know the number of participants, select a venue.  You must consider:

  • Number of participants. Number of seats needed.
  • Location with respect to where participants will be coming from.
  • Meeting day of week and time of day – consider traffic and participant schedules, including conflicts with other SIR activities your participants may be involved with.
  • Equipment you may need for the meeting (e.g. digital projector and screen (which may be a blank wall) or large screen TV you can connect your laptop to).
  • Whether you want to offer snacks and drinks or lunch (no host).
  • Expected length of the meeting (usually no more than 2 hours)
  • Cost of the meeting room. There are several venues that are no cost:
    • Your or another participant’s home (especially good if the home has a large screen TV you can connect your laptop to, if you need it).
    • There are several public libraries that offer meeting rooms at no charge
    • A private room in a restaurant that might be free if your group is having lunch there.
    • The Branch 8 luncheon facility after the monthly branch luncheon. Contact the Branch 8 Attendance Secretary to reserve a no-cost after lunch table.

WARNING!  The most difficult task (and most frustrating) is setting a date and time for the first meeting and getting people to come. 

  • The primary concern, especially for a new Activity, is to maximize participation.
    • You will probably identify initial participants verbally. Don’t rely on a simple verbal commitment.  Follow up with an email and get a response by email.  Give participants frequent “status” reports.  Perhaps ask a question to elicit a response.  The objective is to keep reminding them of the meeting and gaining their commitment. 
    • The Activity graveyard is littered with bones of attempted new Activities that held a first meeting and few or even none of the identified interested people showed up.
    • From your conversations with interested people select several target dates and times (morning or afternoon) for the first meeting. Send this to all potential participants via email.  A phone call reminder may be helpful.  Realize it may be impossible to get 100% participation, even with a small group. 
    • Develop a spreadsheet or chart showing who is available when.
    • Contact any potential participants who cannot make the meeting to let them know why you selected that date and follow up with the results of the meeting to keep them committed.
    • Send out a meeting reminder a couple days before the meeting.

Prepare a meeting agenda and distribute it prior to the meeting.  Consider using PowerPoint slides, pictures, and other tools to facilitate the meeting.  Include:

  • Meeting location and time. Include directions to the meeting site and parking availability and cost.
  • Select a note-taker to help you be sure the meeting discussion and decisions are documented correctly
  • Define the Activity to get buy-in.
  • Set goals.
  • Select meeting days, times and frequency. Use the Monthly Calendar on the branch Website (see “Calendar” on the menu bar at ) as a reference to discuss conflicts with other SIR Activities and events.
  • Discuss the use you want to make of your Branch 8 Website’s Activity page, the Hotline, and AMS (Activity Management System).
  • If it hasn’t been done already, you should discuss responsibilities of an Assistant Chairman, select him and get his commitment.
  • Summarize the meeting results. Be sure all-important points are covered clearly in notes of the meeting – make no assumptions.  Be sure all participants are clear about what they need to do next and buy into that.  Send your notes of the meeting to all participants.
  • Set a time and place for the next meeting or first event. Set a draft agenda for that meeting or event.


There are several tools posted on the SIR Branch 8 Web site homepage in the drop-down menu of the “Activity Admin. & Tools” tab (  They are:

  • Activity Chairman Handbook
  • AMS
  • Communication Guidelines
  • Activities Calendar
  • Fellowship Best Practices
  • Activity Chairman List
  • Activity Coordinating Committee (ACC)

More Resources:

  • Activity Coordinating Committee. As a new activity chairman, you have a lot of responsibilities and the branch wants to assist you in establishing a viable and thriving activity.  Your primary resource will be the Activity Coordinating Committee (ACC), a group of experienced activity chairmen who are always willing to help.  The current ACC members and the monthly ACC rreports can be found on the SIR Branch 8 Web site homepage tab
  • Talk with the Members.  You will be able to get useful input and assistance from the members who have expressed interest in your activity and these leads should be explored fully. In order for the activity to progress, your first order of business should be to appoint an assistant chair who is as committed to the activity success as are you and can help promote and recruit members.
  • Email Blast. To get word of the activity out to all members of the branch the first communication with the membership should be through “Constant Contact” to all members describing the activity, its goals and highlights. This should be given to the Branch 8 E-Mail Distribution manager, with any relevant instructions such as preferred dates etc., for sending out to the membership.    After allowing a reasonable time for responses, another blast may be appropriate lauding the response and further extolling the activity.
  • Website Posting. The website editors should be alerted to the new activity and a description and contact information should be submitted to the Webmaster for publishing (the Webmaster contact information is in the “Mt. Diablo Branch No. 8” chart, under “Technology Positions”.  (Note that each Activity may have its own Website editor to make the posting to your Activity page on the branch 8 website.  For training of a Website editor for your activity, talk to the branch Webmaster.)  Unlike the Hotline, information sent for the website is usually published a few days after receipt and usually without a size limit. You should also request an entry be set up for your new activity in the “Activities” list on the right column on Branch 8 Website at
  • Hotline. An article suitable for inclusion in the next Hotline should be drawn up, again extolling the activity and encouraging people to express interest by replying to the e-mail addresses and telephone numbers in the Hotline under your Activity. Articles for inclusion in the Hotline must be submitted no later than the 19th of the month preceding the publication month and addressed to . Please note the suggestions (and in some cases requirements) for formatting Hotline articles as listed in the current version of the Hotline.
  • Use AMS. The AMS (Activity Management System), a membership database, is also available and can be accessed from the Branch 8 website menu ‘Activity Admin & Tools’ > ‘Tools for Activity Chairmen’.  AMS is a useful and convenient tool, a source of always accurate membership information.  The AMS QuickStart Guide and Activity Chair User Guide can be accessed at  For AMS training talk to the AMS Coordinator through your Activity Coordinating Committee representative.
  • The Importance of an Assistant Chairman. You will do yourself and your membership a huge favor by giving proper time and consideration towards choosing an Assistant Chairman carefully.
    • Is he enthusiastic?
    • Does he own a computer?
    • Is he proficient with word processing?
    • Is he proficient with spreadsheets?
    • Can he print at home?
    • Will he put in time to help you in your meetings and activity functions, take over for you when you are not there?

Discuss these assistant qualifiers with potential assistant chairmen to get agreement, rather than simply accepting an “OK”.  If you have a choice of assistant chairmen, interview each one.  Make sure they know that you appreciate their offer to team up with you.  

When holding a meeting, ask the assistant chairman to take notes; discuss details with him afterwards – are you on the same page?  It may be helpful for you to be together at meetings or activity events.


Unless you are extremely lucky in your leadership role as Activity Chairman; unless your activity is a natural magnet such as Golf, Fishing, Poker or Cribbage, you must continue to work on two the two R’s: Recruitment and Replenishment.  

This works best when you plan for it. Do not rely on the initial sign ups to stay.  It is a given, that a significant percentage of initial members will drop out during the first three meetings – or sooner.   So, be prepared.  Get out there and talk it up.  

  • Communicate with your members in person (best), by telephone (2nd best), and e-mails (3rd best).
  • In recruitment for replenishment, do not overlook your friends and neighbors and new people you meet, a common, yet solvable mistake
  • Always look for like-minded people, ones who you know and you feel would enjoy your activity. Let them know how much fun you have because you joined Branch 8. People you sponsor are near automatic for joining your activity.
  • Lastly, however importantly, have your Assistant or Co-Chair do the same thing.


2023 ACC Representatives:

  • Ken Main –
  • Charles “Chick” Lowry –
  • Dennis Mierzwa –
  • Mike Frey –

Click on the following link to download/print the Handbook:


Updated 05/02/23 by MLF