Starting an HLAA Chapter may seem daunting at first; however, our chapters often start as support and information groups that develop into HLAA Chapters. An HLAA Chapter is part of the Hearing Loss Association of America. We are one organization working toward the same goals. The unique aspect of chapters is that they have a unique reach into local communities. Working together, we all can create awareness about hearing loss, educate the general public about hearing loss, and help people learn how 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. The more we can reach into communities across the country, the more we can reduce the stigma associated with hearing loss and help people to live well with hearing loss.
Thank you for your interest. You join a long list of volunteers who have worked over decades to bring HLAA to their communities across the country. Let us help you get started.
Guide to Developing an HLAA Chapter
Here are some proven steps for each stage of developing an HLAA Chapter:
Step 1: Start a support group.
- Join HLAA, if you are not currently a member.
- Read the HLAA mission statement and review the HLAA State and Chapter principles.
- Fill out the Chapter Interest Form and send it to HLAA Chapter Support.
- Find at least three HLAA members in your community not related to you or each other and gauge their interest in forming an organization that may become an HLAA Chapter. (HLAA will provide a mailing list of current HLAA members to HLAA members that have completed the Chapter Interest Form and that have submitted the HLAA List Use Agreement form.) All four people are founding members who commit to furthering the HLAA mission by working to organize a new HLAA Chapter and support its growth.
- With the help of those founding members, identify a physically accessible, public meeting place near public transportation and major roads, then schedule a one-hour meeting there.
- Publicize the meeting 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.
- Hold a meeting to introduce the Hearing Loss Association of America and to discuss the possibility of forming an HLAA Chapter in the community.
- Along with the other three HLAA founding members decide whether the public’s response warrants the formation of an HLAA Chapter. If so, proceed with steps two and three below.
Step 2: Prepare for and request HLAA Chapter recognition.
- Sign up for the HLAA e-News and HLAA State and Chapter Development Blog and read past postings. The blog is easy to use, subscribe to it and there is no login; each time news is posted, it goes directly to your email. This is a valuable place for information.
- Together with the other three founding members develop a plan to become an HLAA chapter.
- Get more people involved. Talk with audiologists and/or hearing instrument specialists to ask them to refer their other clients to the chapter.
- Meet monthly and rotate/take turns serving as meeting facilitators. The founding members set the agenda for each meeting until the chapter holds elections.
- Adopt the name Hearing Loss Association of America [BLANK] Chapter. Fill in the blank with a city, county or region name such as Manhattan or Cape Cod.
Establish a federal tax identification number known also as a Taxpayer or Employer Identification Number (TIN or EIN, respectively). 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.
- Create Standing Rules or bylaws. Download the Standing Rules template in Word.
Fill out the Chapter Recognition Request form, attach the documents listed below and send them to HLAA, preferably by email. You may also fax them to 301.913.9413 or mail them to the State and Chapter Coordinator, HLAA, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814. Please send:
- a copy of the IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) assignment letter
- a simple budget for the coming year
- a copy of the bylaws/standing rules
- a 501(c) (3) Request form to obtain federal tax exemption under IRS code 501(c) (3) through HLAA
HLAA State and Chapter Support staff will confirm receipt of the packet within one business day of receiving it and notify you of its HLAA status within seven business days. HLAA staff will also send informational packets to all founding members and a logo designed for the chapter.
Step 3: Build a strong HLAA organization.
- Make meetings communication accessible by providing CART.
- Initiate community outreach through awareness and publicity.
- Promote HLAA membership at chapter meetings and in the community.
- Within the first year, hold 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.
For further steps see Run A Strong Chapter.