Levels of Excellence Best Practices

Levels of Excellence Award Best Practices 

Every year, MOAA’s best councils and chapters vie for five- and four-star recognition during the annual Levels of Excellence award competition. View the list of winning councils and chapters in this year’s competition, and review their best practices that are listed below.  

Recruitment and Retention

  • Spotlight members: members recognized by sharing personal stories at meetings and posting biographies in newsletter (Arizona and Northwest Arkansas Chapter);
  • Analyze return-on-investment for direct-mail campaigns: compare themed campaigns to actual return rates (Minnesota Chapter);
  • Sort recruiting list by ZIP code: ask chapter members to review names in their neighborhood and contact 10 members (Montgomery County Chapter, Md.);
  • Remind about meetings with call-out: three main benefits — confirm date/time/location of next meeting, check on member’s health and well-being, and promote legislative message (Northeast Arkansas Chapter);
  • Create new satellites in geographically separated locations under the sponsorship of a strong established chapter (Northern Arizona Chapter);
  • Mail complimentary chapter newsletter inviting non-chapter members to join (Tucson Chapter, Ariz.) and encouraging them to attend chapter events (Monterey Chapter, Calif.);
  • Keep diversity in program themes: solicit different volunteers to plan monthly meetings and make arrangements (Orange Empire Military Officers’ Club, Calif.);
  • Prepare comprehensive recruiting package: invitation letter, history of the chapter, newsletter, membership form, and why-join closure (Northeast Florida Chapter);
  • Attach membership applications to an information fact sheet summarizing state-level legislative and community activities (Colorado Council of Chapters);
  • Create business cards with chapter contact information (Catawba Valley Chapter, N.C.);
  • Place chapter membership application on website. (Venice Area Chapter, FL)
  • Send personalized recruitment and welcome letter (Greater Dallas Chapter, Texas);
  • Include “Everyone” on the membership committee (Cape Canaveral Chapter, Fla.);
  • Use systematic dues renewal processing: notification newsletter, phone calls, and personalized thank-you notes after renewal (Northeast Florida Chapter, Fla.);
  • Conduct meetings at different venues to meet member needs and encourage active participation (Hampton Roads Chapter, Va.);
  • Send welcoming certificates to new incoming commanders (Yuma Chapter, Ariz.);
  • Be involved with college veterans’ alumni chapter or Student Veterans Associations (Jayhawk Chapter, Kan.);
  • Set a goal of having each board member as a member of another veterans’ group or service organization (Greater Cincinnati Chapter, Ohio);
  • Create a detailed chapter standard operating procedures on recruiting and retention  (Florida Suncoast Chapter);
  • Place a brief announcement in the local newspaper a week prior to the monthly meeting  (Venice Area Chapter, Fla.);
  • Conduct “officer call” recruiting events at a local venue and invite non-chapter members whose names appear on the recruiting lists provided by national MOAA (Palm Beach-Martin Counties Chapter, Fla.);
  • Include dues reminder in the end-of-year newsletter with a self-addressed stamped envelope for easy return (Old Capitol Area Chapter, Ga.); and
  • Create a member service committee whose members welcome and sponsor new members, provide casualty assistance, and maintain contact with members via phone-tree groups (Columbia River Chapter, Wash.).


Legislative Affairs

  • Set up a legislative affairs program focused on “What we as citizens and military officers can do” (Middle Tennessee Chapter);
  • Invite state/federal legislators as guest speakers (Capitol Area Chapter, Mich.);
  • Request congressional members cosponsor legislation (New Jersey Council of Chapters);
  • Send “action” email blasts to chapter members (El Paso Chapter, Texas);
  • Partner with State Veteran Advisory Commission (Heartland of America Chapter, Neb.) and state-level United Veterans Councils (Pikes Peak Chapter, Colo.);
  • Organize council and chapter visits to state legislature (Multiple);
  • Send or email chapter newsletter to elected political leaders (Multiple);
  • Chapter newsletters contain legislative-alert information and requests for members to send in MOAA-suggested messages (Multiple);

  • Provide copies of MOAA’s Legislative Update and News Exchange to state and federal legislators to educate them on issues that affect the military (Multiple);
  • Provide at every meeting a legislative update on pending legislation (Multiple); and
  • Have a prominent elected official install your council/chapter officers (Multiple).

Personal Affairs

  • Send surviving spouse condolence letter with offers of personalized assistance (St. Petersburg Chapter, Fla.);
  • Have customized and laminated emergency data and contact cards for each member, with copies to pass to family and friends (Suncoast Chapter, Fla.);
  • Have Personal Affairs Guide with notification system (Southern Nevada Chapter);
  • Distribute chapter business cards on visits to local hospitals, surviving family members, and hospice organizations (Grand Strand Chapter, S.C.);
  • Provide each member with an emergency assistance phone directory with necessary contact information and instructions (Montgomery Area Chapter, Ala.)

  • Hold annual chapter memorial service for deceased members at a local veterans’ memorial site (Albuquerque Chapter, N.M.);
  • Assist surviving spouses following the death of their military sponsor (Multiple);
  • Establish a “Start at Home Project” to stay in touch with members who are homebound (Superstition Mountain Chapter, Ariz.);
  • Create refrigerator magnets with personal affairs information (Tucson Chapter, Ariz.);
  • Establish a formal bereavement protocol (Heritage Hunt Chapter, Va.); and

  • Have standard operating procedures on emergency planning (Mount Vernon Chapter, Va.).


ROTC and Awards Programs

  • Present Junior ROTC (JROTC) Instructor of the Year award (North Carolina Council of Chapters);
  • Offer bank gift cards for ROTC/JROTC awards program (South Jersey Chapter);
  • Ask ROTC/JROTC commanders to provide articles for the chapter newsletter describing upcoming events (Jayhawk Chapter, Kan.);
  • Sponsor JROTC drill meet with MOAA-USAA sponsorship funding (Green Country Chapter, Okla.);
  • Invite ROTC/JROTC units to provide the color guard for chapter events/activities (Jayhawk Chapter, Kan.);
  • Hold a Joint Leadership Summit that brings together military-focused youth organizations (ROTC, JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, and Naval Sea Cadets with military organizations and community partners (Charleston Chapter, S.C.);
  • Give each ROTC/JROTC awardee a flag that’s flown over the state capitol (Tucson Chapter, Ariz.); and

  • Host ROTC/JROTC recognition events with USAA sponsorship funding (Multiple).



  • Partner with local chapters of other veterans service organizations to support area veteran activities (Multiple);
  • Organize Veterans Advisory Council: invite city and county government leaders to chapter meetings (Wichita Falls Chapter, Texas);
  • Obtain 501 c (3) corporation status to support community-service events and activities (Green Valley Chapter, Ariz.);
  • Partner with local chamber of commerce (Rose Capital Chapter, Texas);
  • Send care packages for deploying servicemembers (St. Petersburg Chapter, Fla.);
  • Organize Veterans in the Classroom program (Treasure Coast Chapter, Fla.);
  • Partner with local hospice for “We Honor Veterans” events (Western North Carolina Chapter);
  • Serve as Military Welcome Center greeters at airport (Oklahoma Council of Chapters);
  • Support with mentors veterans treatment court (Multiple);
  • Participate in Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) events (Multiple); and
  • Adopt a platoon or unit (Multiple).

Additional Tips

  • Provide quarterly hard-copy newsletter for those without an email address (Huntsville Chapter, Ala.);
  • Conduct staff/directors meeting immediately prior to or following the general chapter membership meeting, which saves time and makes more potential leaders willing to participate (Northern Arizona Chapter);
  • Has a meeting notices and reminders system via emails, phone calls, and local paper (Grand Canyon Chapter, Ariz.);
  • Hold a “Leaders’ Boot Camp” facilitated by experienced council leaders on various chapter-management topics (North Carolina Council of Chapters);
  • Strictly adhere to one-hour board of directors meeting time limits (Halifax Area Chapter, Fla.)
  • Have a wise counsel of past presidents to generate good ideas and facilitate continued involvement in the chapter and to mentor/advise newer leaders (Kingdom of the Sun Chapter, Fla.);
  • Have chapter challenge coins (Multiple);
  • Publish an annual membership directory (Multiple);
  • Get visible media exposure through timely press releases and photos (Cape Canaveral Chapter, Fla.);
  • Host a two-day training event for chapter leaders on effective chapter management and recruiting (Florida Council of Chapters);

  • Establish a relationship with another nearby chapter: hold joint meetings and activities (Multiple); and
  • Set goals, determine budget to achieve, assign committees to each goal, measure and monitor, and most importantly, remember to have fun (Kitsap Chapter, Wash.).