Sandra T. Mitchell, Ed.D. Office Consultant
The success of the National Association of Black Social Workers, Inc. is due in part to the grit and determination of a staff that is able to creatively function on a shoestring. Funding for the National Office operation comes from three sources: membership, National conferences, and donations. A staff of four is responsible for implementing the national work plan, communicating with chapters, facilitating mailing of quarterly newsletters, processing memberships, managing National and International Conference registrations, and responding to an average of six inquiries daily.
When the D.C. Office opened in 2001, sponges were used to moisten stamps; in 2002 adhesive stamps sped up the process; in 2003 a rented postage meter was in service; however, by December 2006, the rental meter was declared obsolete. Despite numerous travails, NABSW remains strong due to a combination of staff commitment and the contribution of NABSW member volunteers. The strength of the organization is attested to by the frequency with which students, the community, and the Press contact the national office for an opinion about a social work issue. The most frequent inquiry is about the 1972 NABSW position paper on Transracial Adoption. The public remains interested in what NABSW “thinks” and advocates.
In 2006, NABSW maintained relationships with its many affinity groups, collaborative associations, and other national groups through its Executive Leadership, National Office Consultant, and other local chapter leadership and members through the country. The list included, but was not limited to, the National African American Drug Coalition, National Civil Rights Leadership, Black Child Welfare Administrators, Black Child Development Institute, National Medical Association, Black Family Summit, NAACP, National Roundtable Leadership, the Katrina Services Review, and the Black Caucus Foundation. Local chapter representatives also participated in the Drug Coalition hearings and Katrina related meetings that were convened through the U.S. NABSW was visible and involved at the local, state and national levels.
Financing and closure on the purchase of the new building, spearheaded by the Immediate Past National President, occurred in February and March 2006, respectively. Subsequently, March, April, and May of the year saw staff handling National and International conference registrations, packing, and coordinating renovations of the new facility.
Following the May move-in, the July National Steering Committee meeting convened in the Virginia/Washington. The Metro Washington chapter provided transportation for members who attended an open house of the first NABSW-owed national headquarters. During the April National Conference in Houston, the membership was asked for donations and contributions toward the National Office wish and unmet need list. Chapter and individual member response was phenomenal.
Though no more significant than others, two contributions were very noteworthy. The first was by a very loyal and dedicated member of the Metro DC Chapter and her husband who labored in the summer sun to landscape the front yard, while the second was produced by another long-time, supportive member of the Hartford Chapter who made sure we had a sign that announced our new location. It was a monumental year for NABSW!
When the Washington Office was opened, membership, conference, and SC meeting files and archival information were stored in the Detroit office. Other archival information had been placed in a storage facility for safekeeping. The purchase of a facility warranted the consolidation of all NABSW data. Specific National Office goals for 2006, and more generic goals related to the operation of the office included: moving National materials stored in Michigan to the National Office, finalizing the purchase and move-in to new office facility, providing all members with numbered membership cards, and responding to inquiries within a two-day period.
We successfully achieved all of the targeted goals for 2006. Kudos to the former National Office Consultant and past National President, the former Office Manager and our immediate Past President for finalizing the transfer of all National materials to D.C. In May 2006 we moved in to our new facility. By December 2006, all members had been mailed their numbered membership cards. And finally, 85% of all inquires received in the office were handled within the established timeframe.
Following our challenging though successful 2006, the office looks forward to an equally successful 2007. Forward planning includes an updated Policies and Procedures Manual, stabilizing the office staff, exploring malpractice insurance options, and soliciting the gift of a more functional copy machine.
Increased efforts to retain student membership following graduation collaborate with Office of Student Affairs and Membership committee will be aggressively pursued. General collaboration will also involve the Fundraising, National Conference, and Membership Committees. To improve the communication between the office and membership, we are targeting an increase in the number of member e-mails addresses on file from the current 45% to 80%. We will also be encouraging chapters to adhere to submitting annual membership rosters using the official Excel membership. We will also be working to have new members receive their cards within less than two months. Finally, after a trial launch of our on-line conference registration in 2006, we will be supporting utilization of on-line registration for all NABSW conferences, and full staffing for our 40th anniversary National Conference in 2008.