Section 1: Affinity Groups

Section 1. Affinity Groups

Policy name and purpose 

HBA maintains a defined set of affinity groups which address the needs, and deliver value to, subgroups within our membership population. Affinity group participation is a member value add. Effective setup and leadership of these groups is critical to their success.

HBA’s affinity group policies define how new affinity groups are established within the HBA and how, when and why legacy affinity groups are discontinued.

Policy authors

Liz Coyle, value offerings, executive vice president

Petrina Hurtado, membership, manager

Policy users

This policy should be adhered to by all HBA members and HBA leaders including: chapter and affiliates board members, regional directors, COE presidents, regional council members, global committees and their chairs and affinity group committees and volunteers.

Definition of an affinity group

Affinity groups are self-forming communities of HBA members who connect through a common interest, focus or need associated with their career and professional development. Affinity groups provide additional value for members from professional networking, development and career support with a specific specialty or focus. Affinity group participation, as either a volunteer or event attendee, is limited to HBA members.

Affinity groups offer a variety of ways to be involved and engage including: virtual communities for discussion and dialogue; in-person or virtual programs focused on group specific information and education; networking and development opportunities for members within their HBA chapter and/or local geography; platforms for members to share and expose their work and accomplishments.

HBA members have the exclusive opportunity to participate in one or many affinity groups based on their individual professional needs.  HBA members can move in and out of the groups per their individual professional needs. Any HBA member can attend any affinity group event, regardless of their being a registered member of the affinity group. 

Affinity group operations

Affinity groups are self-managed in accordance with HBA operating policies and procedures and under the guise of a global committee chair, who sets overarching strategic direction and priorities for group, and facilitates collaboration and coordination across the regional groups. The global committee chair works directly with a member of the HBA senior staff to ensure alignment of the group’s activities with HBA’s mission, values and priorities. The primary HBA staff contacts for global affinity group chairs include HBA’s Membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings. 

Established affinity groups are led by a regional director volunteer leader who sits within the regional programming COE, ‘reporting’ to the programming COE president. The regional director forms and manages their own volunteer committee and ensures compliance with regional and HBA central operating policies and procedures.   

Affinity groups may offer programs or events providing specific information, education and/or access to relevant industry leaders related to their specific focus. 

Affinity group events are planned and executed at the regional level by affinity group volunteers under auspices and guidance of the affinity group regional director and must adhere to all HBA event policies. 

Member opportunity 

HBA members can join one or many affinity groups and can move in or out of them per their individual professional needs. Any HBA member can attend any HBA affinity group event. 

Established affinity groups

Established affinity groups are shown on HBA’s website www.hbanet.org/affinity-groups. Groups which are in the formation stages are added to that website page once they are approved, branded and announced. 

Establishing new affinity groups 

The HBA will establish affinity groups where there is sufficient member interest. At least twenty-five (25) members in a region must demonstrate interest in order for an affinity group to be considered.

New groups must move through four stages of formation to ensure there is both member interest and leadership capacity for the group to be successful. HBA staff work with the interested members through these stages of formation.

Groups which successfully complete the formation stages must present an action plan for the affinity group to the HBA Membership manager and the executive vice president, value offerings. These two HBA staff leaders make the final determination on the affinity group status and will establish the official affinity group name. 

HBA’s membership manager will also:

  • coordinate the launching of the new affinity group with the relevant regional council leaders
  • coordinate the announcement of the new group across the HBA membership
  • coordinate the announcement of the new group and regional director to HBA staff and related affinity group set up and launch activities
  • introduce the new affinity group regional director to the appropriate programming COE president and global committee chair.

Formation stages for new affinity groups

Affinity groups must complete the following four formation stages: 

Establish interest: HBA members interested in forming an affinity group connect and discuss the opportunity with other members to assess level interest. These members are encouraged to use the HBA community and HBA newsletters to create awareness and identify interest in the new affinity. Arranging informal networking and/or meet up sessions helps build awareness and interest. 

Designate a leader: at least one group member must agree to act as an interim group leader for the affinity group and work with group members to create goals and objectives for the group. This leader works with HBA Membership manager to get connected with the appropriate volunteer leaders and committees in their region for ongoing support and for training and best practices regarding affinity groups.

Organize an affinity group event: the interim group leader, along with a few volunteers, coordinate the planning and execution of a group event – virtual or in person – to assess and demonstrate member interest in the affinity. This event committee, works with their regional marketing committees, to promote the event and work among themselves to plan and execute this event according to HBA event policies. 

Present affinity group proposal: The interim group leader, along with some group members, as appropriate, prepare and submit a proposal for establishing the new affinity group to the HBA Membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings. 

Proposal should include:

  • the goals and objectives for the group
  • recommendations for a group name
  • recommendations for the group leader and identification of committee members
  • an action plan for the next twelve (12) months describing thoughts and ideas for group events and member experiences
  • a summary of the inaugural group event

Terminating affinity groups 

HBA maintains a defined set of affinity groups which address the needs, and delivers value to, subgroups within our membership population. 

Once established, affinity groups will continue as sanctioned groups as long as the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. The affinity group should have at least twenty-five (25) active members participating in at least three regions. “Active” is defined as individuals attending events, working on affinity group committees, supporting/engaging in group discussion via the HBA online community.
  2. Affinity group regional directors are actively participating in their group’s global committee meetings.
  3. There are at least five (5) volunteers in each of the regional affinity group committees.
  4. Each affinity group regional committee must offer at least two (2) affinity group events per year, in person or virtually, to group members in the region. These events can be an ‘HBA event’, planned and executed by HBA members or done in partnership with another (related/relevant) association which shares the affinity group focus.
  5. HBA affinity group events should be filled to eighty percent (80%) capacity and at the least break even financially.
  6. The HBA online community for the affinity should demonstrate frequent, relevant dialogue among affinity group members.

Affinity group participation and performance will be assessed periodically. Affinity groups which fail to meet fifty percent (50%) of the stated criteria will be put into a probationary status and are at risk to be dissolved. 

The probationary period can extend up to six months. While in the probationary period affinity group leaders will be encouraged to work with HBA Membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings, to address group shortfalls. If at the end of the six-month (6) probationary period the affinity group participation and performance has not improved, the affinity group will be dissolved.

Affinity group governance

HBA membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings, are responsible to establish and appoint global committee chairs for each affinity group. Global chairs are generally appointed when there are three (3) or more like affinity groups up and running1. The global committee chair sets overarching strategy and priorities for their Affinity group and facilitates collaboration and coordination across the regional groups. The global committee chair works directly with the HBA Membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings, to ensure alignment of the group’s activities with HBA’s mission, values and priorities and is a participating member of the committee of global committee chairs.

Affinity group regional directors are approved and appointed by the HBA executive vice president, value offerings, or HBA vice president, stakeholder relations, in collaboration with the regional programming center of excellence (COE) president and the regional chair (or designated representative).  

When there are only one or two like affinity groups across the HBA, the HBA membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings, act as the global committee chair for the affinity group, work with and through these HBA staff liaisons who are acting as a global committee. Group leaders are invited/welcome to take on coordination roles across the two groups, opening up the opportunity for them to step into a global chair role, and are included in global committee chair meetings of just the affinity group global committee chairs when such meetings are held. New affinity groups are asked to identify a liaison volunteer who acts as the point of contact for information and expertise for other regions interested in forming a similar affinity group. 

Compliance tracking 

Affinity group membership counts and affinity group event performance for each region will be reviewed annually by HBA membership manager and executive vice president, value offerings.  Additionally, the affinity group global committee chair will be asked by the HBA executive vice president, value offerings to provide qualitative assessments of affinity group performance. The quantitative and qualitative data will be used to evaluate affinity group compliance with continuation criteria.