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Project: Assemble your Founding Group

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Project: Assemble your Founding Group

The Founding Group are the people who shoulder most of the burden of getting the space launched and ready. It's critical that this team be willing to stick with the initiative until it's off the ground. During the Discovery phase, these individuals will work together to learn about your community and explore possibilities for the space. When Discovery concludes and you decide to create the organization, they will become your founding board.

Later, you will form an administrative group to manage the space on a day to day basis, as well as recruiting new board members to take over responsibility for visioning and policy making. They might be some of the same people, but keep in mind that once things are launched, everyone will be tired from the work! It's good to plan for succession early on so the founders can enjoy the space and the community and restore their energy.

 

Find a good second-in-command
Role who does itFounder
Description

Find a person who is committed to the idea and has the surplus time to get involved and get things done.

This person should help the founder find other people to join the founding team, and help advocate for the space. Choose someone that you trust and who can help with details and getting things done.

Take the time to have a thoughtful conversation about what role(s) they are able and willing to play, and how you will divide up decision making authority until a structured board is in place. If you as the founder want to maintain control over decision making and just need help with the leg work, be upfront (though gentle) about this - it will help prevent conflict down the road! At the same time, keep in mind that the founder of a non-profit organization does not maintain control of the organization long term, so it's a good idea to get used to working collaboratively early on, and to practice your abilities in drawing out the skills of others and empowering them to do good work.

If this person is going to take an active role in finding other founding team members, also make sure they understand the details listed in the "recruit additional team members" task. And once they have agreed to help out, stay in close communication as you move forward on all aspects of Discovery and beyond.

Estimated Time1 hour to 1 week or more
Level of EffortEasy to Hard. It all depends on whether you already have someone in mind, who you know, and who you can find.
Recruit additional team members
Role who does itThe founder, hopefully with help from your second-in-command
Description

In some cases, the right people for the job will present themselves easily and early on; in this case, you can utilize their help in exploring other aspects of the Discovery phase. Other times, finding these individuals may be one of the harder parts of the Discovery phase, in which case you'll be looking to get them on board in time to start with Formation. (In some cases, individuals may even be willing to serve on the founding board once the organization is started but aren't interested in helping with Discovery - this may work out just fine!)

You will need to think about the skills and roles of these individuals in a couple of different ways. First, they will serve as the leaders of your organization through formation and launch, both cultivating the vision and mission of your organization and doing a lot of the ground work. In this regard, it's important to ensure that your team as a whole has the capacity to engage in a variety of different ways, working with different aspects of the space. Make sure that you have people in your founding group who can focus on all of these areas:

  • Community
  • Leadership
  • Outreach
  • Experiences
  • Tools
  • Environments
  • Resources

Secondly, since the founding group will also be your initial board, make sure you find individuals who are willing to serve in the following officer roles:

  • President (likely to be the founder, but it doesn't have to be if your skills match better elsewhere)
  • Vice President (likely your "second-in-command" if you have one)
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Technical Officer
  • Public Relations & Marketing Officer
  • Facilities Officer
  • Additional Officers at large, if desired

As you can see, the roles of leadership do line up naturally with some of the officer positions, such as having the Facilities Officer focus on environments and the PR Officer focus on community. But it doesn't have to be an exact match. As long as you can meet the needs of your space, fulfil the legal requirements in your state, and establish a structure that is effective, do what works for you.

You may not be able to fill all of these roles right off the bat. Minimum board requirements vary by state, although President, Vice President and Secretary is a common minimum. Having someone skilled with finances (presumably serving as your Treasurer) is extremely helpful, so you probably want to consider that a minimum requirement as well. The last three roles are less vital from a legal perspective, but there are many important aspects of launching your space that will benefit from having individuals on board with technical, marketing, and facilities related skills. Note: many boards utilize committees for these kinds of areas, so it's also an option to simply have Officers at large and utilize committee structure, but for the founding group it will most likely be easiest to keep your group lean and focused. Building a group composed of the 7 officer roles, with the ability to focus on each of the 7 leadership areas, will put you in good stead to move forward!

While it may be tempting to welcome anyone into your founding group who is willing to help out, make these choices carefully and focus on determining people's actual skills and strengths. If you find someone who has great interpersonal skills and naturally builds relationships, don't make them your treasurer just because that slot needs to be filled - ask them to serve in a public relations role and continue to seek out someone with financial acumen. If you find multiple people with skills overlap, perhaps consider having some of them help out in ways other than serving on the official founding group. Based on what you know about people, express confidence in their ability to step into the appropriate role for them and do what you can to empower them in leading the way within their sphere. Placing people in roles where they can succeed and enjoy themselves, and giving them the space to make things happen, will make a huge difference in the long term strength of your space!

Estimated Time1 to 3 months
Level of EffortEasy to Hard. It all depends on who you already know and who you're able to find with the right skill sets and interest level.

 

Need help?

Knowledge

The notebook section provides a way for you to store and share information with your group members. With the book feature you can:

  • Add book pages and organize them hierarchically into different books.
  • Attach files to pages to share them with others.
  • Track changes that others have made and revert changes as necessary.
  • Archive books that are no longer of interest to the group. Archived books can be reactivated later if needed.