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3.0 Organization

3.1 Board & Committees

A neighbourhood association may be big or small, formal or informal. Regardless, it is important to have some structure to your association to help share the work load and ensure that every voice is heard.

Board Of Directors / Executive

The board positions are usually elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting and should be rotated every 2 to 3 years to avoid dependence and ensure inclusivity. Positions include:

  • Chair: Prepares meeting agendas and facilitates the meetings
  • Vice Chair: Fills in for the Chair when he/she is not available and assists Chair with duties
  • Treasurer: Responsible for the association’s finances
  • Secretary: Keeps people informed through taking and distributing meeting minutes and informing residents of upcoming meetings


Sub-committees are used to further delegate the workload and are typically led by a facilitator who develops the reports to the Board. Typical sub-committees include:

  • Communications - Newsletter, website social media and emails
  • Fundraising - Coordinates fundraising events and activities
  • Special Events - Specific to the event
  • Membership - Manages the membership process
  • Volunteers - Coordinates volunteers when needed and works to retain existing and engage new volunteers

3.2 Bylaws & Constitution

Bylaws govern the way an association functions and defines the roles and responsibilities of members.

Neighbourhood Association Bylaws should include the following parts:

  • Name of Association
  • Boundaries
  • Mission and objectives
  • Definition of Membership
  • Board Governance
  • Executive
  • Members at large
  • Number of meetings per year
  • Quorum
  • Committee structure
  • Term for executive members
  • Process for filling vacancies
  • Annual General Meetings
  • Decision making process
  • Fees
  • Record keeping

Click here for a sample of Bylaws for a neighbourhood association.

3.3 Goals, Objectives And Plans

Establish Priorities/Goals

An association’s goals should relate to its vision and mission. They are broad and general outcomes that require long-term action. Examples include:

  • Community Engagement: To increase opportunities for residents to be involved and engaged in their neighbourhood through the use of communication and information.
  • Safety: To increase our feeling of safety and celebrate our diverse and positive voices.

Set Objectives For Each Goal

Objectives are tied to priorities/goals and may be short-term or long-term. They are the steps, actions, or projects your group will take to move toward achieving its goals. Objectives will often relate to more than one goal. Examples include:


  • Create a healthier community
  • Start a Walking School Bus
  • Create a community learning garden
  • Start a neighbourhood bicycle club
  • Host healthy cooking lessons

Create A Work Or Action Plan

Every objective or project needs a plan of action to ensure success and effective delegation. Taken together, those plans produce your organization’s Strategic Plan and will help provide overall guidance and direction to your association over the course of a year.

A good plan should include the following considerations:

  • Roles and Responsibilities—who is doing what?
  • Timeline and Milestones—what are the key steps and when will they happen?
  • Resources – what equipment, space, budget, volunteer/staff or partnerships are needed to achieve the objective?
  • Success Measurements—how will you know you have succeeded?
  • Scope—what is in and what is out of the scope of this work?
  • Review and Report—was the project successful? Did the work align with the plan? Why or why not?

Click here for a Work Plan template.

3.4 Values/Vision/Mission

Although defining your mission, vision and values can be time consuming and difficult, if successful, the process can help to bring the group together and provides meaning and direction to your activities.


Values are those things that really matter to each of us. The ideas and beliefs we hold as being of special quality, worth and importance.

Examples include:

  • Accountability
  • Compassion
  • Diversity
  • Integrity
  • Cooperation


A vision statement is an expression of vivid possibilities or the ideal future state that describes in a very broad sense, where you want to go as an association and a neighbourhood.

A vision statement should be:

  • Written in the present tense
  • Inspirational and motivational
  • Clear and concise


A community respecting nature, nurturing people of all ages and creating a great place for everyone to live.


A mission is an organization’s “reason for being” and describes the work it does to realize its vision. The mission can be used as a public description and should be simple enough to be recalled by all members of the board.

Your mission can be determined by answering the following three questions:

  1. What key benefit or outcome do we deliver?
  2. For whom do we do it?
  3. How will we do it?

Examples include:

  • Promote open discussion of neighborhood issues
  • Pursue solutions and actions favored by members
  • Monitor and inform members of private initiatives and public policies significant to the neighbourhood
  • Working together to build a foundation for a positive and safe environment.

There are many techniques for creating vision, mission and values statements listed in Appendix xi.

3.5 Incorporation

Incorporation is Not necessary for neighbourhood associations. In London, some groups are incorporated and many are not.

Why Incorporate?

  • Provides legal protection for members
  • Allow the association to apply for some grants independently
  • An incorporated association can also take legal action against a third party if necessary

Why Not Incorporate?

  • The cost can run anywhere from $500 to $1,000
  • Maintaining the incorporation takes time and energy
  • Membership with the Urban League provides access to legal status for grants and other requirements.

How To Incorporate?

  • Can be done federally or provincially
  • You must have a unique, non-generic name
  • Requires a clear mandate or corporate objects
  • Requires the use of a solicitor or lawyer
  • Online help at