Running a skatepark organization poorly is easy. Running one well is not. It takes time, attention to detail, and an obsessive approach to planning. Most successful skatepark groups fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum and do some things very well, and other things not so much. The impact of running an organization poorly is that everything takes longer. The more efficient the group is, the more quickly things get done. When it seems like the project is not moving forward, the first place to look is at the core group and skatepark advisory committee and identify things that can be done internally. Blaming agencies and people outside of your control does not help you reveal areas that you can improve upon.
Here are the abilities and objects you will find particularly useful during your skatepark advocacy effort:
- Ability to get to meetings
- Flexible work or school schedule
- Notebook for taking notes during meetings
- Binder for storing important data sheets
- Calendar (online or traditional)
- Access to the web
- Contact or business cards
You will eventually want to utilize some of the powerful tools available online for your effort. The two big ones are:
- Google+ (GoogleMaps, Gmail, GoogleDocs, Circles, Hang-outs, etc.)
Contact or business cards are handy for quickly introducing yourself to people you meet. They can also add legitimacy to your group. There are some terrific deals for business cards online. Don’t rush out and get new business cards right away, but be prepared to do it when you feel like it will be useful.
Certain habits will ensure that your group’s activities stay on track.
Learn to identify what to keep and what to throw out. You will be tracking lots of information, and you’ll come across interesting websites, statistics, and information. It may feel like you’re “doing something” by collecting and saving everything you find, but you might also be hurting your ability to find important notes later. If you are an incurable packrat, at least make an archive where you can toss everything you rarely use.
Having good organizational skills doesn’t just apply to how you keep your papers and files. It also means that you know what needs to be done, and what doesn’t. It’s common to see enthusiastic advocates dive into projects that require lots of time and resources, but produces little benefit to the skatepark project. For example, there’s an upcoming street fair and your skatepark group will have booth space. In order to promote the skatepark, you will have a miniramp, give out water, have flyers, collect signatures, solicit donations, and (of course) answer questions. Suddenly you are facing a huge organizational task. By simplifying your program so that it produces the most benefit for the least amount of work, you can use the time and resources you save on other activities in the future.
Keep a notebook, work log, and a calendar. Your work log is usually a file that lists all of your group’s past activities. (GoogleDrive—once called GoogleDocs—is also a great place to maintain a work log.) This will be useful again and again. It’s your “official record.” Your notebook is your best friend. Write everything down: ideas, names, phone numbers, websites, meeting details, and anything else. You should transfer the most important notes to your work log. Your calendar will store all of your event-related information. Online calendars that can be shared across your group are best so that you aren’t burdened with sending out constant reminders to everyone.
Your group may benefit from the adoption of bylaws to formalize its composition and practices. Below are some sample bylaws that you can use as a model when drafting your own. Bylaws are particularly important to legitimate nonprofit organizations as they govern how the group conducts business. Most of your meetings won’t require bylaws; they’ll just be casual presentations and conversations. However, “official” meetings with your board of directors—if you are operating as a nonprofit organization—should be carefully documented and your bylaws adhered to.
There should be no rush to implement bylaws in your group, but when you must here is a template you can use.
ARTICLES AND BYLAWS OF ANYTOWN SKATEPARK COALITION
Office of Record
1.1 The office and agent shall be the business place of the sitting Chairman as designated.
2.1 Numbers and Powers
The management of all the affairs, property, and interests of the coalition shall be vested in a committee consisting of ten persons or less. Officers shall be named by election of the majority of the committee. Committee members shall be admitted by a majority vote of existing members, and shall rotate in and out as necessary.
The number of committee members may at any time be increased or decreased without amendment of these bylaws.
2.3 Regular and Special Meetings
Regular meetings of the committee shall be held at the discretion of the Chairman, with such meetings to be held weekly at the discretion of the Chairman. Special meetings shall be called on an as-needed basis.
Notice of all meetings shall be made by emailed agenda stating time, place, and main topics for discussion. Notice shall be sent at least twenty-four hours prior to the meeting time.
A majority of the full committee must be in attendance for any votes or consensus to be taken on any matter.
No stated salary shall be paid to any officer or member of the committee. Any request for reimbursement must be presented with a receipt and voted on by a majority vote of the full committee. Personal expenses (e.g., transportation, meals, etc.), will not be reimbursed.
No loans shall be made by the Coalition to any committee member or other entity for any reason.
Any committee member or officer may be removed at any time, with or without cause, by a majority vote of the full committee.
The officers of the Coalition shall be a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Treasurer. All officers shall be appointed for the duration of the coalition. Such officers shall hold office until they either resign or are asked to step down.
The Chariman shall preside at all meetings, shall have general supervision of the affairs of the coalition, and shall perform other duties as are incident of the office.
During the absence of the Chariman the Vice-Chairman shall preside over meetings and generally have the same powers and duties of the Chairman.
The Treasurer shall have custody of all monies and shall keep regular books of account. The Treasurer shall disburse the funds of the Coalition in payment of just demands. The Treasurer shall give a quarterly account of all transactions regarding the financial condition of the coalition to the committee. The Treasurer shall provide the (fiscal sponsor) financial reporting including all checking account statements.
4.1 Fiscal Year
The Coalition’s fiscal year shall be from (day of year) through (day of year).
The monies of the Coalition shall be deposited in the name of the (City Skatepark Coalition). All funds will be drawn from such account upon signature of the Chairman and Treasurer. All monies shall be considered part of the (City Skatepark Coalition’s Fiscal Sponsor)’s skatepark trust. The Treasurer shall provide the (City Skatepark Coalition’s Fiscal Sponsor) financial reporting including all checking account statements.
6.1 Books and Records
The Coalition shall keep correct and complete books and records of account and shall keep minutes of the proceedings of the committee; and shall keep a record of its supporters, donors, and contact information.
The committee shall have power to make, alter, amend, and repeal the bylaws of this coalition; provided that no such alteration, amendment, or repeal would adversely affect the coalition or its intended goals. Any such amendments shall first have received a majority vote of the full committee.