Running an HLAA Chapter is simple. The materials on this website can help you strengthen the organization. An HLAA Chapter has a unique reach into local communities and is part of the Hearing Loss Association of America - we are one organization with the same goals. Working together, we can create awareness about hearing loss, educate the general public about the needs of people with hearing loss, and help people learn to live successfully with hearing loss.
Communication is the key to the organization’s success. Communicating clearly and frequently fosters a vibrant atmosphere. Talk with or email other HLAA leaders and get support from the HLAA headquarters’ office. Whenever a new chapter is formed, everyone shares in the success and sense of accomplishment.
You join a long list of volunteers who have worked over decades to bring HLAA to their communities across the country. Thank you for your involvement.
Here are some proven steps for creating a strong HLAA Chapter.
- Make meetings communication accessible by providing CART.
- Publicize meetings by contacting the local newspapers. You can often list an event yourself on their online calendars. Place fliers in local gathering places like public libraries, grocery stores, coffeehouses, restaurants, etc. using the Sample Meeting Flier as a template.
- Promote HLAA membership at chapter meetings and in the community.
- Sign up for the HLAA e-News and HLAA staff blogs and read past postings.
- Create a professional image for the organization.
- Get attendees/members involved. Talk with audiologists and/or hearing instrument specialists to ask them to refer their other clients to the chapter.
- Initiate community outreach through awareness and publicity.
- Meet monthly (bi-monthly or even quarterly meetings are fine, too) and rotate/take turns serving as meeting facilitators. The standing/planning committee, board of trustees or a program committee sets the agenda for each meeting.
Establish a federal tax identification number known also as a Taxpayer or Employer Identification Number (TIN or EIN, respectively) if the organization does not have one. The number looks like this: 15-0000456 (two digits with a dash followed by 7 more digits). Getting an EIN is easy and free. Use one of these three ways to obtain it.
- Use the EIN Online Assistant to obtain your EIN in a matter of minutes.
- Call the local IRS office. Look for the telephone number in the U.S. Government section of the local phone book.
- Complete the EIN application form and mail it or fax it to the IRS. If you have DSL Internet service, download the form from the IRS Website. (If you have dial-up Internet service or no Internet service please call the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator at 301.657.2248 so that they can send you the form.) Send it to the IRS by fax (1-859-669-5760) or mail (Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999). It may be six to eight weeks before you receive the EIN from the IRS.
To learn more about EINs, see the IRS document titled Understanding Your EIN.
- Create a simple budget for the coming year.
- Update the organization’s organizational and operational document(s) (Standing Rules, Rules and Regulations or bylaws) as needed. Send a copy to HLAA’s State and Chapter Coordinator by email, fax to 301.913.9413 or mail them to HLAA, 7910 Woodmont Ave., Ste. 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814.
- File documents in accordance with state law.
Open a checking account in the chapter’s name, if the organization doesn’t have one already. Call local banks to learn whether they offer free checking accounts for non-profit organizations. To open the account, take the following items along:
- The chapter’s Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Minutes of the meeting regarding any decision making and/or voting about the bank account
- A letter to the bank from the governing body of the chapter (the president and treasurer or the planning committee chair and a member) on chapter letterhead addressed to the bank (The letter should be signed by two officers or the planning/steering committee chair and treasurer, and should say that you wish to open a chapter bank account; that the chapter is a nonprofit organization with the EIN of _____; and that a copy of the chapter’s organizational and operational document(s)* is/are attached.)
- A copy of the chapter’s bylaws, rules and regulations or standing rules (This is your organizational and operational document.)
- A copy of the letter from HLAA stating that your organization is included in the HLAA filing for exemption from income tax under IRS code 501c3. (This usually is optional to open an account though some banks require it for a free checking account.)
- Meet with local audiologists and hearing instrument specialists, request that they refer clients to the chapter and ask if they would be willing to become a Professional Advisor to the Chapter. Your Chapter might even assemble a group of individuals to serve as Professional Advisors. These individuals would join the Chapter as Professional Members. For more information about the Guidelines for becoming a Chapter Advisor, read the Professional Advisor Guidelines. For more information about forming a group of Professional Advisors, read the Professional Advisory Committees document. For a Letter Template a Chapter can use to reach out to an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist to ask them to become a Professional Advisor, download the Sample Professional Advisor Recruitment LTR Template.
- Keep expenses low and seek financial support from the community.
- Hold annual elections of officers/leaders. Make sure that leader nominees are current HLAA members by contacting the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator by phone (301.657.2248) or email. See a list of Board Position Descriptions.
- Consider creating an awards program for the state organization or chapter, to recognize volunteers for their hard work and achievements done on behalf of people with hearing loss. You may use HLAA's awards program as a model.
How to Revive an HLAA Chapter
Does the chapter you and others help run need help with getting members to meetings or getting them involved in leadership? If so, read Is It Time for a Chapter Tune Up? and contact the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator by phone (301.657.2248) or email. HLAA wants to be involved in helping the chapter get back on its feet! Many others have experienced the same thing and can share their success stories and strategies.
Close an HLAA Chapter
Keep in mind, we hope you have been in contact with us before it gets to the point where you and others feel you have to close a chapter. We are all one organization working toward the same goal and mission. Your reach into the community is unique and leaders across the country and the national office want to help keep chapters relevant in your locale.
If you and other leaders have read Is It Time for a Chapter Tune Up?, contacted the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator, and still feel that the chapter must fold, please complete the Chapter Closing Survey and return it by email, fax (301.913.9413), or mail (State and Chapter Coordinator, HLAA, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200, Bethesda, Maryland 20814). After paying any remaining expenses for the chapter, please mail to HLAA any remaining chapter funds in amounts over $10 so that HLAA can earmark them for a future chapter that might form in the same geographical area.