Running an Association 

Every business district in the City is different and unique and the business associations organize in ways that best fit their groups. The NBA is here to fill in the gaps, provide assistance in establishing associations or tools for associations who are ready to take it to the next level.  Take a look at some of the best practices from across the city in the links below.

How to start a Business Association 

Bi Laws

Create a budget

Elect Officers

Tax Bracket

When to meet

Building Membership

Retaining Membership

Agenda


How to start a Business Association

So you have a few neighbors who agree that having a collective voice or a group to support each other is a good idea.  The first step is organizing a steering committee to organize an initial meeting and advertise this opportunity to your neighbors.

Good questions to ask yourself as your group begins to meet:

  • What is our purpose for starting this group?

  • What is our goal moving forward?

  • Is there an active Neighborhood Association in the area? Can we ask them to collaborate getting this started?

  • Who are all of the businesses in our district?

After you have a set goal it’s time to engage your district.  Set a time and a place for the initial meeting and invite the stakeholders.


At the initial meeting you will want to gain feedback on what is important to the district.  Be ready to suggest a consistent meeting time and day.


Bi Laws

When the twenty business districts were established in the mid-80’s the NBA filed bylaws on behalf of all of the associations. These original bylaws are available here (link). Since then many of the associations have updated and drafted their own versions of these. Bylaws serve as a way for future leaders to understand how the group is organized and what the goals of the organization are at that time.


Create a Budget

If you collect dues or donations, spend them productively. You should have a written budget, whether you are strict about observing your budget or regard it only as a guideline or spending plan. In the beginning, you can have the membership vote on all or most expenditures before you adopt a formal budget. 

Just because you have a budget doesn't mean you have to have numerous categories. Five or six line items often will be enough to reassure any inquiring neighbors about what you're really doing with the money.  On the other hand, include all the line items you would really like to track.

Usually when finances become predictable, officers are allowed to make spending decisions for small amounts of money.

If you use a computer accounting program, which is a great boon if you have access to one without paying "an arm and a leg," as we say in the U.S., the program will help you track your actual performance in comparison with the budget.  Even if you do your accounting manually, you will need to report to the board and members how your actual receipts and expenditures are tracking against the budget.

1.) Prepare a business planList all the goals of the Association for the year.

  • Bring agreed upon goals to the membership for approval.
  • Review goals with board.

2.) Seek out bids for goals and other items that will incur expenses, such as, but not limited to:

  • Landscaping and beautification costs.

  • Meeting location if rented.

  • Refreshments for meetings.

  • Annual picnics, holiday parties, etc.

3.) Funding

  • What do you project for membership fees?

  • Will these fees cover your established goals?

  • Do the membership fees need to be increased?

  • Should you consider sponsorships for higher priced events?

4.) Prepare budget using Excel spreadsheet

  • List all items that will require funds. These items will include all items bids were sought for, but also State licensing fees, gifts andlor contributions, etc.

  • Budget should contain a column for proposed budgeted amount, budget spent and remaining budget.

  • Below budgeted items, include income section. Income section will include estimate for membership dues, sponsorships and any other sources for income. Again, including columns for budgeted amount, budget spent and remaining budget.

  • If the Association has a budget balance from the prior year, include that total at the bottom to determine net budget balance.

5.) Review proposed budget with board for changes and/or recommendations.

6.) Final budget is brought to the membership for discussion and/or approval.

 


Elect Officers

As part of your initial planning, elect a board of directors and sign up the rest of the business leaders as members. Set up committees to handle various functions such as recruitment, event planning, fund-raising and communications. Create short- and long-term goals as well as plans on how to attain them. Once you've created the organizational structure and have your nonprofit status papers, hire an executive director to take over the association and continue the work you started.


Tax Bracket

Business associations fall under the tax code 501(c)6, as a business league which is, “an association of persons having some common business interest, the purpose of which is to promote such common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit.” Each of the Grand Rapids Neighborhood Business Districts are organized as subsidiaries of the NBA. If you have questions about your tax filing or tax status please email info@nbagr.org


When to Meet

Associations vary on this, some meet monthly, weekly, or quarterly. Some meet only when issues come up.


Building Memberships

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Retaining Membership

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Agenda

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