NORML is pleased to announce that our 2012 Chapter of the Year Award recipient, Orange County NORML, will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary this Friday. NORML is very proud, and grateful for the army of volunteers nationwide that remains dedicated to maintaining his or hers chapter’s efforts to raise awareness, and mobilize activists on the ground. In celebration of Orange County NORML’s 10 year milestone, founder and executive director Kandice Hawes has agreed to sit down with NORML and shed some light on the secret to her chapter’s longevity, as well as provide some survival tips to other activists.
1) How long have you been chapter director?
I founded OC NORML in 2003 and have been the elected Director for 10 years.
2) What challenges have you faced since taking on that role and how did you overcome them?
One challenge is balancing work, school and personal life along with the duties of running a NORML chapter. I am lucky to have a great team of volunteers and chapter officers that I am able to delegate tasks to. Just lately we developed a party/fundraising committee, now all of these activities are handled by a group of members instead of myself. Another challenge is the number of emails and communications that I receive. I try to work a little every day to keep up. It seems that the longer I run the chapter the more the monthly duties become part of my natural life and are easy to fit into my schedule.
3) Has your advocacy affected your personal life?
Being an activist has affected my life in a positive way. One of the bonuses from running a NORML chapter is that I get the chance to meet amazing people and grow wonderful friendships. Besides the connections and friendships activism has helped me to improve my personal skills and public speaking capabilities.
4) What is the secret to your chapter’s longevity?
Great volunteers and members are the secret to our chapter’s longevity. If you have the opportunity to work with great people who eventually become friends then every activity is enjoyable and people will be willing to get together to get things done.
5) What is your secret to successful fundraising?
We raise at least $10,000 a year and all of these donations are of $20 or less. We believe that the best way to fund raise is to give people something for their money. We don’t ask for straight cash donations but use parties and trading goods for donations to raise money. We have also found that 420 BINGO games are cheap and great money makers.
6) You are one of the few NORML chapters to be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 tax-deductible nonprofit. What was that process like and how long did it take?
I applied for the OC NORML non profit tax status 10 years ago and I remember that it was a challenge, but piece by piece I was able to complete the necessary forms with both the federal and state government. The whole process took me a couple of months, but nowadays you can pay legal services to file forms and save the frustration. One frustration is that our chapter filed as a non profit educational organization and before we were approved I had to prove we weren’t distributing propaganda and submit copies of educational information we would be distributing.
7) What about your chapter are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the life changing friendships our members have built. It also makes me proud when the chapter functions without me and I know it will survive long after I do.
8) Has being a woman director helped or hurt (or had any effect at all) on your work?
I believe that being a woman has helped me to be an effective leader. As a woman I think I am compassionate and am always concerned about members feeling well and fitting in.
9) What areas of your chapter would you like to improve?
We are currently working on improving our web site and making online membership signup and shopping available.
10) What advice would you give to other chapter leaders who aspire to the success of your chapter?
Make the meetings fun and have a purpose for each one, have the attendees learn something new every time. Make your group the kind of group of people that others want to belong to. Teach your members skills at meetings like public speaking that will help you be a more effective group in professional settings. And lastly, try to be organized, outgoing and understanding.
Orange County NORML will be hosting a “10 Year Smokin’ Anniversary” celebration this Saturday, August 17 at Giovanni’s Pizza in Fullerton.
922 Williamson Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
RSVP on Facebook here