2.0 Things To Do
2.1 Neighbourhood Events
Events are a great way to build community in your neighbourhood. Effective neighbourhood associations usually organize two to four events per year. Click here for an Event Planning Checklist and here for a Sample Work Plan Template.
Types of Neighbourhood Events:
- Back Yard BBQ (ideal for smaller neighbourhoods)
- Block Party
- Car Free Day / Open Streets
- Art in the Park
- Sports Tournament
- Talent Show
- Pot Luck Dinner
- Garden Tours
- Local Heritage Tour or Event
- Movie Night
- London Clean and Green
- Group Yard Sale
- Canada Day Celebration
- Easter Egg Hunt
- Halloween Party
- Harvest Celebration
- Pumpkin Retirement
- Holiday Caroling
- Cruise Night
- Neighbourhood Pub Night
- General Meetings
2.2 Environmental Projects
Cleaning, protecting and enhancing the environment in and around your area is a great way to build community and beautify your neighbourhood.
Types of Environmental Projects:
- Park clean up (see sample project plan)
- River clean up
- Graffiti clean up
- Tree planting
- Management of Invasive Plant Species
- London Clean and Green (See Appendix xiv for Contact)
- AdoptAPark (Click here for Contact info)
2.3 Safety Initiatives
There are lots of ways you can make your neighbourhood safer both in perception and practice.
Types of Neighbourhood Safety Initiatives:
2.4 Welcome Package For New Neighbours
A welcome package is a great way to meet new neighbours and build membership.
They can include:
- Coupons or gifts from local businesses
- Garbage and Recycling info
- Info about your neighbourhood association
- Info about neighbourhood services and parks
- Bus route info
2.5 Raising Funds
There are countless possibilities for neighbourhood fundraising activities. Although the traditional Car Wash, Bake Sale or Bbq usually work well, the three listed below are popular among neighbourhood associations in London. Try one of these or be creative and think of your own!
Neighbourhood Yard Sale
- Pick a good location (visible house, library, school)
- Ask neighbours to donate unwanted items and volunteer their time
- Promote to the neighbourhood and rest of city
- Hope for good weather
Plant Sale or Swap
- Seek donations of plants from neighbours or a local nursery
- Invite neighbours to come and purchase items for their gardens
- Find a good location/partner to host the event (church, banquet hall, library, school)
- Invite Neighbours to prepare their very own chili in croc pots
- Buy buns or bread to serve with the chili
- Sell tickets to the event
- You may also consider getting a Special Occasion Permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages
Grants are a great way to fund specific projects your neighbourhood association wants to do. The most important thing to remember when applying for a grant is having a clear, well thought out idea and finding a grant that aligns with it. See Appendix x for grant writing tips.
Neighbourhood Decision Making (City of London)
- A program that provides funds to improve and enhance neighbourhoods.
- Simple idea submission process
- Up to $50,000 of funding
- Funding decision is made by public vote
- See the NeighbourGood London page on Neighbourhood Decision Making
Neighbourhood Small Events Fund (City of London)
- Up to $500 for small neighbourhood events
- Simple online application form, requires list of expenses See the Neighbourhood Small Events Fund page
Td Friends Of the Environment Foundation
- A national charity that funds environmental projects across Canada.
- Applications reviewed throughout the year
- Charitable partner required
- More info available online
London Community Foundation
- A London based funder of various types of charitable projects and organizations. Visit their website for more info.
Getting sponsors requires a lot of effort, planning, time and persistence. Although it can be tricky, it is one of the best ways to find success and sustainability for your neighbourhood’s events.
Six Tips for Getting Sponsors:
- Create a strong Sponsorship Proposal (Click here for a Simple Sponsorship Proposal and click here for a more advanced Sponsorship Proposal).
- Customize you Sponsorship Proposal to the business you are talking with.
- Research the businesses you are talking with, know who their customers are, be clear about how you will help connect with them and use their language where possible.
- Start with your network – the easiest way to find a sponsor is to ask someone you know personally.
- Approach perspective sponsors with phone calls or face to face rather than emails.
- Maintain the relationship after the event and be sure to meaningfully thank sponsors for their contribution.
Effective communication is an important part of a strong neighbourhood association. It is essential that members of the association are able to connect with and share relevant information in a timely fashion. It’s also a great way to keep people engaged in neighbourhood news.
- Flyers and posters should be simple, direct and pleasing to the eye
- Don’t try to put too much information as the message will be lost
- See Appendix iii for a flyer template
- Start collecting emails at the first meeting
- Keep the emails organized in an electronic spreadsheet
- Avoid “spamming” your members by only sending emails when necessary
- Use the Bcc option to keep emails addresses private
- If you have a large database of emails you can use a free online service such as MailChimp to help manage the process
- Can be digital, paper or both
- Most word processing software have templates for newsletters to make the design process easier
- Ask neighbours to contribute stories and picture
- You can create them monthly, every 3 months, twice a year or just once a year
- You can email them out to your membership or,
- You can deliver them door to door with volunteers and block captains
- For digital design and distribution, you could also use the free online service Mail Chimp
- Websites or blogs are a good way to collect and share all neighbourhood news in one place
- There are many free or inexpensive services for your group to use
- The easiest way to set up a blog is to find someone in your neighbourhood with the technical skills to do it.
- However, make sure he or she trains other people on how to use the service and shares all the necessary login info and passwords with the group. You don’t want to loose access to your website if something happens to the person in charge of it
Talking With The Media
- Address media releases to a particular person
- Follow up with a phone call to ensure it was received
- See Appendix vi for a sample media release
- Facebook and twitter can be used to share news or alerts with your members in a timely and easy way
- A Facebook Group is used to communicate with members and can be private or public
- A Facebook Page is used to communicate with the broader public
- Twitter is used to communicate quick news items and links with the broader public
- The easiest way to manage social media accounts is to have someone with experience in your group take it on
If some of your members are not online, a phone tree may be a necessary communication tool.
How to organize a phone tree:
- Start by collecting phone numbers (this could be done at the same time as emails)
- Create a core team of 4 to 6 people who are willing to commit to the job
- Give each member of the core team a list of names and phone numbers they are responsible for calling (should be no more than 10 each)
- Test the phone tree occasionally to ensure it works
Structured membership is not necessary in the beginning but is good to consider once your group starts to formalize its structure. Membership can be nominal (no charge) or based on payment.
How Much To Charge?
- Annual fees can range from $5 to $50 per household
- Work with members to determine an appropriate fee for your neighbourhood, keeping in mind that no residents should be excluded based on ability to pay
- Some groups also offer an option to make a larger one-time payment for a lifetime membership ($100-$200)
- Some groups only collect payment every other year to reduce workload
- Make clear what residents get out of membership (ie. a vote at the AGM, the opportunity to be on the board, a gift, etc.)
Ways To Do Sign-Up & Fee Collection
- At the Annual General Meeting
- Door to Door
- Set up a station at a central location and invite residents to join
- Through the mail
2.8 Volunteer Recruitment And Retention
Retaining existing and engaging new volunteers on an ongoing basis in an important part of sustaining your association. Relying on a small group for too long may lead to fatigue and even burnout. Good volunteer engagement also helps develop replacement board members when the need arises.
Ways To Recruit Volunteers
- A personal invitation to a friend or acquaintance
- Post volunteer opportunities on your group’s website and share on social media accounts
- Put up posters at local faith based organizations, schools, businesses, shops
- Include a request in newsletters and emails
- Be sure to make it easy to sign up
- Always respond promptly to emails or calls
- Be clear about expectation and communicate well
- Use their name often
- Send a reminder the day before the commitment
- Be organized, thankful and supportive
- Feed and hydrate volunteers well
- Introduce volunteers to one another and use name tags
- Send thank you emails or postcards to all volunteers
- Educate them about their work and the impact it has
- Take group pictures and post on website/social media
- Send reminders of upcoming projects
2.9 General Meetings
Annual General Meetings (AGM) are held by community organizations to update their membership on the past year’s accomplishments and plans for the year ahead. They should happen at the same time every year and align with the organization’s financial year-end (if you have one). It is important to inform all of your members of the AGM and give them plenty of warning (one month at least).
What Is Done At An AGM?
- Financial Report of the previous year
- Election of new Board of Directors
- Review activities of previous year
- Review of plan for next year
- Changes to bylaws (if required)
- Celebration (food and drink)
Neighbourhood groups may choose to hold Special General Meetings when issues arise that require input from the entire membership. These can happen at any time throughout the year, depending on when the issue occurs.
Tips When Organizing A General Meeting
- Find a large venue to hold entire membership (School, Place of Worship, Banquet Hall)
- Promote in newsletters and with door to door flyers
- Include food, either purchased or pot luck
- Make it fun! It should be a celebration!