How can civic associations not only survive but thrive in the fast-moving 21st century?
Northland Community Council representatives, who have seen some member organizations wither and die in recent years, have some ideas.
They shared them during a wide-ranging roundtable discussion at the April 2 meeting.
In addition, President Alicia Ward announced her goals for the coming year and Vice President Roger Davidson told representatives he also would be taking on the duty of chairman for the annual Independence Day Parade.
Ward opened the discussion of best practices for keeping civic groups afloat by calling on John Kirkpatrick, longtime president of the Sharon Woods Civic Association.
Kirkpatrick noted financial difficulties sometimes sink civic associations. Sharon Woods is kept going thanks to fundraising efforts such as an annual garage sale, with items donated by residents. In addition, Kirkpatrick said those asked to join the association at $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizens also are invited to donate more than the minimum. That practice added $1,000 to the association's coffers, he said.
"It seems to have helped to do those two things," Kirkpatrick added. "Money keeps civic associations alive."
The Salem Civic Association is seeking revitalization through an updated website and a Facebook group open to residents, according to Pat Hammel. She noted that 460 people joined the Salem Facebook group, although civic association membership stands at 160.
Through a survey on Facebook, Hammel said it was determined many more would be willing to become dues-paying members if they could do so electronically, which is something that will be permitted on the website.
"We should have it up and running within 90 days," Hammel said.
Brad Theis of Lee Ulry Estates echoed that sentiment, adding that electronic payments brought in 22 of the 26 households in that neighborhood.
"We're not chasing anyone down for checks," Theis said. "It's helped a lot."
Forest Park resident Dave Paul said one way of maintaining membership is to keep in contact with people who have volunteered with the civic association in past years. He said these people need to be "cultivated and encouraged."
"There are people in your neighborhoods who are willing to help," Ward said. "They just didn't know they were needed."
Theis volunteered to meet with NCC Secretary Alice Foeller to develop a short training program on how civic associations can make use of Facebook and other social media outlets to retain existing members and recruit new ones.
Among Ward's goals are continuing to work with Elevate Northland, an organization she cofounded with Northland Alliance leader Jenny Lin Leal and Foeller, who is now president of the Northland Area Business Association.
Ward noted that Elevate Northland recently achieved formal nonprofit status.
"It's a big deal for us," she said. "We're, like, legit now."
Ward also noted that the council's annual awards banquet is scheduled for May 9 at the Little Turtle Golf Club. Tickets are $35 a person and may be purchased over the NCC's website, https://www.columbusncc.org/.
Davidson said he will be working closely on planning the annual Fourth of July parade with last year's chairman, Scott Dowling.
This year's theme, he said, will be "The Many Faces of Northland: United We Stand."
The next meeting of the parade committee will be April 27 at 10 a.m. in the Kroger store on Morse Road.