Some observations regarding the starting and running of neighbourhood associations

For many years I’ve been involved – as a volunteer – with the starting of associations of various kinds, and in organizing community-based projects and events.

I’m no longer involved with such work; my sole volunteer efforts involve my website and a book project.

However, I wish to share some general observations.

First, it’s a great idea to take some time when starting up an association of any kind. By way of example, the launch of the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association (LBNA) involved a period of research and planning extending, as I recall, over about a couple of years.

As part of the research process, the group of people involved with the launch of the LBNA made a point of conducting a well-designed, well-organized survey of residents right across the neighbourhood. The group’s Mission is an outcome of the survey.

Secondly, it a great idea to have buy-in, or take-up, related to the organization. In my experience, such a buy-in comes from ensuring that each potential member of an association has a strong sense of ownership of it. An association communicates that sense of ownership by what it actually does, by how it actually goes about doing things. Another way to say this is: Input from each person matters; the capacity to listen is vital; a flat-hierarch approach to organizational structure has much to be said for it.

Third: It’s vital that an organization has standards of behaviour in place, so that the handful of people – which tends at times to turn up in just about every gathering of people – who are inclined to be disruptive can have their energy channeled into productive pathways, which in some cases means it’s a great idea to have a procedure in place showing the door (from a board, or from membership) for such rare individuals as persist in disruptiveness.

Fourth: It’s imperative to have a plan for leadership succession, written into the constitution and bylaws, in place. When such a culture of leadership succession is set into place from the start, the culture in this area remains strong, as the years go by.

Such a culture can also be set into place later, if it hasn’t been set into place at the start, but that takes more effort and time. It’s better to establish a great culture for an organization right from the start. That’s another way of saying: Take the time to plan things well, right from the start.

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