Sigma's Definition of a Chapter
A chapter is an organized division of scholarly student nurses and nurse leaders that has met all of the requirements for establishment and has been granted a charter in accordance with the procedures required by Sigma. An at-large chapter is an organized division of scholarly student nurses and nurse leaders from two or more schools that has met all of the requirements for establishment and has been granted a charter in accordance with the procedures required by Sigma. All chapters shall have regular student and professional members.
The chapter is an independent, autonomous constituent of the organization, the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma, Incorporated. It shall function under bylaws, policies, and procedures which are not in conflict with those of Sigma. Chapters are affiliated with and supported by their academic institution but operate independently. Chapters have control of their income, expenses, contracts, accounting systems and internal reports.
Sigma provides bylaws and guidelines specific to developing honor societies and chapters to meet and exceed minimum requirements. In addition to the minimum expectations, chapters are expected to create a welcoming environment which:
- Fosters connections and relationships with members
- Creates a sense of community
- Excites and engages members to actively participate
- Provides ample opportunities for the professional & leadership development of members
Starting as a Developing Nursing Honor Society
Institutions of higher education that intend to pursue official chapter charter status must first form an independent, local nursing honor society. This developing honor society agrees to follow Sigma's recommended honor society and chapter development recommendations, procedures, and policies while forming and operating the developing honor society. Sigma provides on-going staff support and abundant resources to developing honor societies; however, a developing honor society is not legally affiliated with Sigma until after the chapter charter application has been approved AND the official chartering ceremony has taken place.
To establish a new chapter, a group of nurses or nursing students who meet Sigma's membership eligibility criteria will follow the steps in phase 2 to form a local nursing honor society at their institution of higher education. After the phase 2 initiatives are completed, the developing honor society will then follow the recommendations in phase 3 to operate and function independently for more than one year (starting from the honor society's first induction). The purpose of the recommended initiatives in phases 1-3 is to prepare developing groups to meet all bylaws expectations, to practice operating as a chapter in order to create a successful and healthy chapter that will provide a desirable, valued membership experience.
By the time a group completes the recommended initiatives outlined on the phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 webpages, and applies for chapter charter status, they should not only be maintaining the basic bylaws requirements of a chapter but also beginning to exceed the requirements. It will be the developing honor society's responsibility to show that they are consistently meeting and exceeding the basic bylaws requirements in their day-to-day operations. Upon review of the chapter charter application, reviewers will determine if the developing honor society has demonstrated that it can maintain and exceed bylaws compliance and operate as a viable and sustainable chapter. If reviewers feel that an applicant will struggle to meet requirements and operate efficiently, reviewers may decline the application and recommend ways for the developing honor society to improve operations before resubmitting an application.
Chapter development does not end when the honor society submits its application or when the new chapter is officially chartered. As the chapter continues to grow and develop, it is expected that the chapter will continue to set goals to thrive and exceed all bylaws requirements.
After approval and the official chartering ceremony, chapters are expected to fulfill the following on an on-going basis:
Support the mission, vision, purposes, and goals of Sigma.
Observe the provisions of the bylaws and comply with Sigma's policies and regulations.
Participate in all House of Delegates electronic voting and biennial convention sessions.
Select and induct eligible members at least once per year.
Meet all financial obligations.
File all required reports according to established guidelines [including IRS 990 (U.S. chapters only)].
Maintain all positions of President, Vice President, Counselor, Treasurer, Secretary, Leadership Succession Committee, Governance Committee, electronic delegates, and convention delegates (all chapter leaders must maintain active, paid membership to serve).
Host two or more chapter programs per year.
Conduct annual elections according to election guidelines.
Conduct annual business meetings for all chapter members to attend where chapter leaders give reports on the state of the chapter.
The Importance of the Chapter’s Role
The honor society and chapter are the first "face of Sigma" that the member encounters. It is the membership experience that the honor society or chapter creates that shapes each members' initial perceptions and eventual expectations of the honor society/chapter and the Sigma organization.
- Communication from the chapter board several times throughout the year
- Value for their money spent on dues
- Organized meetings and events
- Worthwhile and engaging programs & events
- Leadership, professional development, service, social, and networking opportunities
- Opportunities to get involved