Starting a new MOAA Virtual Chapter has many similarities with starting a new geographic or satellite Chapter. There are also special considerations when starting a Virtual Chapter.
The first thing to remember is that there is a difference between a Virtual Chapter and using virtual means or tools to conduct a meeting within a geographic chapter.
We hope that you find the information and tools useful in your considerations of starting a MOAA Virtual Chapter.
National MOAA provides an alternative way to structure a chapter, recognizing that modern technology has offered a means for individual national MOAA members to interact and work together. While this is unlikely to replace traditional geographically defined chapter organizations, there is the potential to expand our chapter system in this new area.
Like most other veterans’ organizations, MOAA’s chapters are organized following the traditional model — geographically. This template for organizing affiliates has worked well in the past when the only option for people to socialize and interact was through personal contact. Now, technology has provided many alternatives to face-to-face interaction. Some members and their peers prefer regular interaction through social media and the internet rather than frequent face-to-face meetings.
Virtual Chapter Defined
• A core group of national MOAA members who already are bound together in some common purpose or ongoing activity; sometimes referred to as an "affinity group".
• Virtual chapters may support advocacy activities related to their particular focus. For MUSNAVC, our major focus is healthcare legislation.
Concept of Growing Virtual Chapters
• Virtual chapters are formally chartered by the national MOAA board of directors, after being approved through a petition/application process managed by the Chair of the Council and Chapter Affairs Committee.
Benefits of Growing Virtual Chapters
• Increase chapter membership.
• Increase national MOAA membership participation in chapters.
• Contribute to MOAA’s goal of having influence in each congressional district.
• Enhance MOAA’s legislative reach.
How to Become a Virtual Chapter
• Have at least 10 national MOAA members, two of whom are willing to serve in virtual chapter leadership positions;
• Agree to comply with MOAA community standards;
• Produce written bylaws and comply with a memorandum of understanding/standard operating procedures as defined by national MOAA;
• Provide a modified chapter membership roster with name, rank, national MOAA member number, and valid email address; and
• Petition through the Council and Chapter Affairs Committee, to become a virtual chapter.
Download the MOAA Council and Chapter Policies and Procedures Guide HERE
Note: you must sign in to MOAA prior to download
Download the Policies and Procedures Guide Appendix HERE
The above MOAA guide will provide sample by-laws, structural organization, considerations for “not for profit” status and incorporation. Special consideration when deciding on your by-laws should include Board membership, voting guidelines, conducting meetings, dues, and general membership.
Examples of Documents
A copy of MUSNAVC’s By-Laws is found Our Organizational Chart and sample Duties are included
Petition Letter Example
11 December 2015
Military Officers Association of America
MOAA Council and Chapter Affairs Committee
ATTN: Lt. Col Edward L. Marvin, USAF (Ret), Committee Chair
201 N. Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Dear Lt. Col. Marvin,
Please accept this petition to establish the MOAA Army Nurse Advocates Virtual Chapter. Attached, is our initial member roster with the requisite information (name, rank, national MOAA member number and valid email address). We have also included home address, phone numbers and years of service as an Army Nurse. COL Jeri I. Graham, USA (Ret) and LTC Joseph P. Gollasch, USA (Ret) serve in Virtual Chapter leadership positions and will be responsible for “standing up” the “MANAVC – MOAA Army Nurse Advocates Virtual Chapter, working closely with our other charter chapter members.
We have been in regular communication with COL Barry Wright, USA (Ret) and Col. Brian Anderson, USAF (Ret) to address questions that accompany new initiatives. We understand the Virtual Chapter limitations noted in the Council and Chapter Policies and Procedures Guide. We have already developed the draft Virtual Chapter Bylaws and defined in our purpose that, due to our specific health care professional backgrounds, a major focus of this chapter will be to advocate for general health care related services / programs for past and present service members and their families. We have developed an Advocates Training Program. Additionally, we have been exploring all avenues of virtual communication to execute our Virtual Chapter business. It’s heartening to read about the numerous organizations who have established virtual chapters.
Once approved, we will be able to vigorously “market” this chapter, gain new members and formally establish our communication modalities. We are sure that you’ll want reports from our Virtual meetings and hope that you’ll share reporting data expectations.
We understand that the Virtual Chapter cannot be associated, per se, with either the Army Nurse Corps or the Army Nurse Corps Association. Our chapter will comprise a wide-ranging group of uniquely qualified individuals sharing two common traits…membership in MOAA, and past or present service as an Army Nurse.
Here’s to a great new MOAA venture!
COL Jeri I. Graham, USA (Ret) LTC Joseph P. Gollasch, USA (Ret)
MANAVC Co-POC MANAVC Co-POC
Administrative Member Roster
This is the original MANAVC Board Check List of Actions Necessary to Create a New VC
Internal Revenue Service and Regulations
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) before you start the incorporation process, tax exempt status, banking, and direct deposit process. This is a simple step and there is no cost involved. Click HERE for the link for this step.
INCORPORATION and State Requirements
MOAA recommends every chapter become incorporated as a nonprofit organization. This is not a legal requirement, and many MOAA chapters have existed for years without incorporating. Nonetheless, an incorporated chapter is recognized as a legal entity that may enter into and enforce contracts; acquire, own, and dispose of property; and make investments. Corporate status provides for the legal continuity of the chapter, and it generally, though not always, protects officers, directors, and members from financial liability for a chapter’s acts. You will file for incorporation with the same State as listed for the home of record for your Chapter.
Most States also require Solicitation and Charitable Organization filing. Check your State government website for instructions and forms.
Internal Revenue Service Tax Exempt Status
National MOAA recommends every chapter seek exemption from federal corporate income taxes. IRS Publication 557, Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization, sets forth procedures for obtaining exemption recognition, annual filing requirements, and other information. Download publication HERE.
A chapter should seek recognition of exemption under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(19) as a veterans’ organization. For a chapter to qualify, at least 75 percent of its members must be past or present members of the U.S. armed forces. Many of the questions on this lengthy form will not apply to chapters. When providing financial data, best estimates are perfectly acceptable.
This may be a long and tedious process, lasting several months, before being granted the Tax-Exempt status. There is a non-refundable fee associated with this filing, so attention to detail and accuracy is recommended. Repeating, don’t let the length of the form discourage you, as many sections do not apply. Follow directions and ask questions, if you need to.
Communication and Virtual Tools
There are many considerations and decisions to be made regarding how your Chapter is going to communicate, different platforms you will use, and how you will conduct your meetings. Each chapter will be different depending on your purpose, level of technical skills, members’ virtual abilities, cost, and other considerations. MUSNAVC has explored several options and listed what works for us, at this time.
Just about all members have an e-mail account which is used for routine communications and notifications. We recommend that you use personal e-mail accounts rather than work, military or government addresses, as many of these will block your chapter messages or don't allow personal use. If you have active duty personnel, their .mil address will change upon PCS, ETS or deployments. MUSNAVC has set up an organization e-mail (using Gmail) account for all official messages. This allows for creation of mail groups for members, recognition of chapter business, and provides for e-mail messages to be sent to chapter leadership.
MUSNAVC has a public access Facebook account used for notifications of meetings, special events, and postings of interest. Your chapter may decide to use any of the social media platforms that work best for you.
CONFERENCE CALLS and SCREEN SHARING
As with social media, there are many options available for you to consider. We found that "free conference call. com" works very well for MUSNAVC:
No cost for MUSNAVC or for members to call into a meeting, provided members have calling plans with sufficient minutes
Members can call-in and view screen sharing on a computer, or just call-in for audio-only participation
Meeting organizer has mute control and indicator of who has called into meeting or is speaking
Organizer can share his/her screen with all participants (slides, video, charts, etc.…)
Organizer can record all or portion of the meeting, including audio and visual, for playback
Organizer has a list of attendees and length on call. No roll call needed for attendees
Use for general meetings, BOD meetings, committee and workgroup meetings
Before developing your website, look at some of the different Chapter website that are already out there. See what others contain and how they are laid out. Make a list of what you want to include in your website and start from there. MOAA has a few “TIPS” for design and content HERE
It can be costly to hire a professional to develop and maintain your website. Since most Virtual Chapters do not have dues and are cost conscious, you may want to do-it-yourself. There are “host sites” available for a reasonable cost. We started our website, musnavc.org, using WIX.COM. Considering that we only had two technically-challenged individuals, with very limited IT experience, we are now proud of and able to manage the site fairly well. We would be happy to share our experience and recommendations with you upon request. Encourage a member with some IT "smarts" to become your webmaster.
Consider having a “Members Only” or restricted access section on your website. There will probably be some information or presentations that you don't want to put out there for public access or use. Our Web Member Roster is modified to remove some of the information found on our Administrative roster.
Another consideration is to make a new membership application form available on your site along with contact instructions.
Both of these forms are linked directly to our Chapter g-mail account.
You may view our online membership application and contact form
Developing an e-newsletter will let you stay engaged with your members and keep them updated on items of interest within your affinity group. It is important to understand the difference between an e-newsletter and a newsletter sent electronically. Read these “Tips from MOAA” HERE .
MUSNAVC attempts to send an e-Newsletter monthly. Since our members are all Nurses, we focus primarily on health and healthcare issues. Advocacy and other MOAA topics are included in each issue. We will gladly share a copy of our template with you upon request. An example of our e-newsletter is found
MUSNAVC had decided that we would not publish an actual newsletter and that our website would serve in its place. We felt that everything could be incorporated into our website, we would keep it simple, less time consuming, and hold emails to a minimum for our membership. The combination of website and e-newsletters meets our expectations.
Recruiting members begins at home
Start by talking with and contacting people you know within your affinity group who meet your membership criteria. Let them know about the Chapter you are starting and would welcome them becoming a part of the organization. Word of mouth and personal contact has proven to be our best advertisement tool. E-mail potential members and ask them to reach out to their contacts.
MUSNAVC developed an Outreach letter and application form to send via e-mail or handed out.
We have also developed a Tri-Fold recruiting tool that our members share and can be handed out or sent via e-mail to potential members.
It is important to remember that most of our colleagues are working, have families, belong to other organizations and in general have busy active lives. With a dedicated core group of leaders try to Keep it Simple, Keep it Administratively Light, Keep it Interesting, and Keep Growing.
Don’t try to do it alone
MOAA Council and Chapters will be able to assist in getting the word out through The Military Officer magazine, MOAA Newsletters and updates, and other communications. Make sure that members of professional organizations and other groups, that you belong to, are aware of your Chapter and how they can become a member.
Remember to keep members informed and updated on Chapter activities and initiatives. Seek their comments, suggestions, input and participation. Timely response and contact are important.
The First Virtual Chapter
COL. Jeri Graham, USA (Ret) discusses the virtues of a virtual MOAA chapter. As President of MOAA’s Uniformed Services Nurse Advocates Virtual Chapter, Jeri talks about starting the virtual chapter, how it works, how it brings together people outside of geographical locations and fosters the growth of localized chapters. The Chapter focuses on health care issues relating to legislative concerns. This is the Military Officers Association of America’s first virtual chapter.
LTC Joe Gollasch, USA (Ret), Co-founder and Vice President of MUSNAVC, offers a few simple recommendations. Start with a few founding members who will be dedicated to the success of your organization. Share the work, while keeping it simple, and remember that your Chapter will develop and grow over time. There are very few ‘rules’ to follow, so feel free to explore and think outside of the box for inventive ways to make your organization work. New initiatives and exciting times await. Blaze new Trails, Lead the Way, Explore new Frontiers, and “Never Stop Serving”.