Friends Groups

A word should be said about soliciting board members beyond the liaisons from various institutions. Make sure you have board members who represent your various audiences. For example, it might be that those who are attracted to serve their community are retired or have grown children, when your main audience is young families. Try to encourage at least some of your board members to be from the demographics of those you serve. They can provide better feedback, and if their families can attend your events, they can be volunteers. Don’t hesitate to ask those who are busy with other civic groups, for they can propose ideas, which can work for you too.

It’s also ideal, but not always easy, to recruit directly from the business community. Those with their own financial resources may just think it’s easier to write a check than find the time to help out with yet another fundraiser. It is important to have your own newsletter, membership program and logos for letterhead and Web sites. This is a great deal of work but worth it.

Once you have established a board, it’s important to fit the person to the task. Some are great at soliciting for prizes while others are effective at organizing silent auctions. It’s also important to offer awards for service and acknowledge contributions in an annual gathering at the end of the year.

There is yet another benefit to having a friends group. The people who share your devotion to the center often become your friends. You end up hearing and getting to know their families, and they get to know yours. After doing so many fundraisers together–soliciting grants and prizes, writing newsletters, defending policies–these dedicated volunteers are some of the best people you could ever call your friends.

Dr. Karen I. Shragg is Director of the Wood Lake Nature Center for the City of Richfield, Minn. For more information in setting up or maintaining a friends group, you can contact her via e-mail at kshragg@cityofrichfield.org.

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  1. Making New Friends
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  3. Building Playgrounds — Rebuilding Community
  4. Working With Volunteer Groups
  5. Voices From The Past

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