Horizon Networks: Establishing Chapters

Chapters were officially created and implemented into the organization beginning late October. The addition allowed Horizon Networks to grow tremendously over the next few months, resulting in rapid domestic growth and dramatic increase in volunteer numbers.

The main goal of establishing chapters was to increase growth through an exponential structure. By putting others in charge of smaller groups of volunteers, the founders hoped to increase numbers without increasing time and labor.

“Hoping to accelerate our growth, I established international "chapters," which are autonomous subsidiaries of our central organization with a dedicated management team, officers, and volunteers,” said Pranav Eranki, co-founder. “By connecting a community of reliable individuals within a small region, we could parallelize operations and increase our impact.”

The first few chapters were all implemented within the States, and followed the same blueprint structure: There were one to two Presidents who oversaw all operations and reported to the co-founders, as well as a minimum of seven subdivisions who reported to the President(s). These subdivisions included the outreach team, volunteer affairs officer, social media lead, city outreach officer, volunteer team, media outreach officer, and senior center outreach officer.

In order to develop good relationships with the chapter Presidents, Eranki dedicated one hour each day to holding an office hours session, specifically for the purpose of communicating. In these sessions, the Presidents and founders would have discussions to get feedback and identify the advantages and disadvantages of the strategies used. If any roadblocks were spotted, they would work together to try and form a solution. These sessions allowed chapters to learn from each other’s mistakes, as well as build a community that could rely on each other.

Although chapter Presidents were given authority over their chapters, they also had the responsibility to hold their volunteers accountable. A system of accountability was created by Eranki as part of the chapter structure and followed a basic three-strike procedure. Another method developed to motivate volunteers was having group chats for each individual chapter rather than a collective one. In order to easily convey information to the volunteers, the founders created a group chat with chapter presidents, who would then pass on the information to the volunteers in their corresponding chapters. This way, small communities were formed in each chapter, increasing productivity greatly.

“Consequences matter more when there’s risk of damaging relationships,” said Eranki. “[We] wanted to focus on utilizing relationships to our advantage”

The implementation of chapters opened up many positions and opportunities in the organization, resulting in a dramatic growth in volunteers; within a few months, the number had increased by hundreds. A large contributing factor to this growth was the use of Google ads and working with VolunteerMach in order to increase media exposure. Through highlighting incentives such as volunteer hours and leadership positions, Horizon Networks was able to expand rapidly, not only in numbers but also across the United States.