Monday, August 17, 2009

Board Development

The Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism is a 501c(3) dedicated to the mission of increasing the prosperity and population of the Oil Region. This is done through economic development initiatives (new industry recruitment, local industry retention/expansion, workforce development, and international trade), tourism intiatives (eco-tourism and outdoor recreation - hiking and biking, hunting and fishing, and "Geo-Caching"), and heritage preservation (preserving and enhancing local assets related to the the oil industry). The agency is governed by a 25 member board of directors and is funded through membership dues, municipal contributions, state and federal grant money, and revenue generated from agency owned property. Our operations budget and the economic development marketing budget is primarily funded through our membership dues. Membership dues are down because of (membership response) a weak national economy. The 25 member board does not feel that increasing membership dues is their responsibility. Give me ideas on how to help a nonprofit board take an active interest and role in raising membership money for the agency?


  1. Hi Randy, I have absolutely no experience in board development however, I have made a few attempts at herding cats. I suspect many boards, in particular ones as large as the ORA's, makes maintaining a focus like walking a tightrope with your eyes dialated.

    My suggestion then, would be to concentrate your efforts on other opportunities to raise funds in a manner that would be recurring and to not put yourself in a position to become dependent on an ever changing board that in the future may or may not be successful at or willing to raise the neccessary funds.

    One of the biggest obstacles to economic development (in my opinion) in Venango County is the high municipal and county tax rates. In an end run around both of these dilemas, I would recommend the ORA begin by purchasing some of the many dilapidated residential properties (preferably at sheriff sale or from the tax claim bureau) found within the cities of Franklin and Oil City. Rehabilitate these properties using building supply auctions to obtain materials as well as utilizing the local historical associations as a source for volunteers to perform some of the unskilled labor. Once completed the rehab'd properties could then be leased by the ORA and in time this practice could make the project self sustaining. Additionally, the project could conceivibly provide you a recurring funding source. Over time the net effect of such a project could potentially increase the values of adjacent properties providing the owners additional capital for local investment and spending in the form of equity. Along with the increase in property values would come an increase in tax revenues to municipal and county coffers. The final trick would be to convince our local elected officials (refer back to the "herding cats" comment) to decrease the tax rates making Venango County more attractive to outside interests.

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  3. Thank you for taking the time to respond! Insightful and helpful - Randy Seitz