The following handbook was written by Cindy Sutter-Tkel, former president of NACSW's Ohio chapter, and chapter organizing consultant with NACSW for several years.





Forming a Leadership Committee


This is the critical first step as you prayerfully begin organizing.  It is important that you not attempt to do it on your own.  So begin by contacting those two or three faithful meeting attenders or mailing respondents and ask them to consider spending their meeting time with NACSW to help develop and organize.  Pick a central location and meet at a restaurant or use a conference call to meet.  Consider having a variety of fields of practice, years of experience, educational levels, and ethnic/gender diversity represented if you have the luxury of choosing between a number of people. 


If you have nobody known to you to ask perhaps send a survey out to the membership (the NACSW office can give you a list of current members and their contact information) seeing if anyone has interest in leadership and if they would be willing to meet once every month or two to get things started.  It will be necessary to agree on a focus and then set a vision statement and a one year plan.  Setting goals and a schedule for activity will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.  Do not attempt anything too ambitious the first year, perhaps just the required meetings and then monthly or bi-monthly leadership planning meetings.  Some groups even take breaks in the summer.


Developing a Mailing List


One of the most essential things is having an accurate mailing list so that you can contact members and prospective members regarding events.  Regularly update your addresses provided to you by the NACSW headquarters.  Then consider doing a membership drive whereby you ask all the members and Christian social workers you know to provide contact information about all the other Christian social workers and agencies they know.  In this way you can begin to build a prospective members list.  


A separate mailing list to be developed is a list of people to invite to workshops available for CEUs.  One possibility is to contact your state board of social workers and counselors.  They typically have mailing lists for sale at a reasonable cost.  They can usually be ordered by desired license and geographical areas and even by zip code.  They are available on disk or printed labels.  Also, the United Way has their mailing list for sale.  


In addition, calling your state NASW office and asking for the names of other professional social work organizations can be helpful.  You may get a list like the following: Society of Hospital Social Workers, Oncology Social Workers, American Hospital Association of Social Work Administrators, Geriatric Social Workers, Society of Clinical Social Workers, Association of Black Social Workers, Community Development Association, Association of Group Social Workers, Nazarene Association of Social Workers, Catholic Association, Lutheran Association, Coalition of Adult Protective Services, and Salvation Army.


Surveying the Membership


Define your target area so that it is large enough to support the desired activity, but small enough that participation is possible.


It is then advisable to survey the membership to determine what their interest is in NACSW.  Groups vary a lot from location to location.  Some members want support, prayer, and fellowship; others want professional development from a Christian perspective.  It is critical to successful planning not to put forth a lot of energy organizing events that the membership is not interested in.  On your survey when you ask about their interest in attending workshops you may want to ask about topics of interest, day and time that is best, and their willingness to present.


Planning a Workshop or a Regional Conference 


It would greatly benefit your group to consider getting CEU providership status through your state board of social workers.  Regulations vary from location to location.  Call the American Association of State Social Worker Boards at 1-800-225-6880 from 8:30-5:00 EST or e-mail them at to get information pertaining to your specific state.  It usually requires planning several workshops for the upcoming year and submitting a draft of the program, evaluation, and resume of the speaker(s).  


One of the many benefits of being able to offer your meetings for CEUs includes being able to charge for the workshops and therefore build your chapter's budget. 


At least initially, workshop presenters can be recruited from the membership.  Other potential speakers could include social work faculty and well known social workers in your community.  Offer a small honorarium and get a press release out to your local paper.  This will help motivate people to consider this professional development opportunity.


Another way of putting together a training event would be to work with the NACSW office in organizing a one-day regional conference. This can be an exciting way to get Christians in social work together from local Christian colleges, faith-based organizations, as well as area practitioners. It can provide a great deal of help in building your base of potential chapter members. NACSW has already assembled a speaker's bureau of regional conference speakers, and designs and sends out promotional brochures, etc. to support the conference. For more information about regional conferences, you can go to:


Available Supports


Academic Social Work Programs


Contact local schools that have social work programs.  Check out faculty and student interest.  Also inquire about the CEU process and facilities as many of them regularly host meetings and workshops.


NACSW Chat room and Listservs


Get on line and talk to other members and organizers about your ideas and questions at You can even have chapter meetings on-line and/or set up an electronic mailing list connecting members in your state/province who have access to the Internet.


NACSW Headquarters


They can assist you with materials, mailings, labels, etc. They will gladly brainstorm with you and attempt to answer any questions that might come up along the way.


Board Members and Fellow Organizers


Use the Catalyst to get the names of others actively involved in pursuing the development of the organization.  Contact them and share ideas.


Local Church and Christian Social Service Agencies


See if your church would consider supporting your organization with either financial assistance, support staff help, use of copier and phone, etc.  Also many Christian agencies have regular meetings that you could attend and promote NACSW or you could do a mailing, or post announcements, you could also get the director to agree to pay to send people to NACSW sponsored workshops.


Portable Display


Use this display at workshops, state conferences or in your agency to advertise the organization.  It can be requested by contacting the main NACSW office.


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