Governance Resources

Working on the fundamentals for managing your friends group helps to make sure everything runs smoothly. Dig into the resources below for tips and ideas about setting a mission, building a leadership team, managing membership, and more.


Have a look to gain insight on some things to consider when starting and maintaining a friends group.

Mission Statement

All friends groups are formed for different reasons, and it is important for friends to clearly define their purpose, goals, and action plan. Will the group be focused on the natural resource elements of a park? Engaging youth in outdoor recreation? Helping to establish a new trail?

Mission Statement Examples:

  • To preserve, protect and enhance the park and its surroundings.
  • To promote public interest in the park and to help enhance and enlarge the park, while encouraging its protection and enjoyment.
  • Advocate for the continued development of the trail.
Find more mission examples
two women install a tree cage


Leadership can take many forms, but many friends groups opt to create a Board of Directors or Leadership Committee. This group is responsible for overall function of the group, day-to-day activities, and long-term planning. The Board of Directors is typically 3-12 people, depending on the size of the friends group, and is made up of people with different strengths and skillsets.

meeting members around the table
Photo by Tim Stahl

Typical Primary Roles

  • Chair or President
  • Vice Chair or Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

Optional Secondary Roles

  • Event Organizer
  • Membership Chair
  • Fundraising Chair
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Volunteer Coordinator

Typically, a role is held by a person for a period of time (like 2 or 3 years) and that person is eligible to serve on the board/committee for a certain number of terms (2 or 3 terms). These board members are typically elected by the general membership.


A set of bylaws establishes a process that guides future decisions and action plans. Many voices should to be included in this process to ensure broad and lasting involvement. Bylaws can be updated on a regular basis to incorporate new ideas and processes. Some sample bylaws are linked below.

An older couple ambles down the paved bike trail

From Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Sample Bylaws PDF


Membership is the way a friends group builds a base of support, recruits volunteers, and ensures sustainability of the group. By clearly defining and tracking membership, it then becomes easier for friends groups to focus attention on building membership and inviting more folks to join the group.

At friends group workshops in 2019, membership was one of the main topics. Have a look at the materials below to help build or refine your membership program.

Download workshop presentation
four members of the Assoc. standing in grass at Frontenac
Some members of Frontenac Assoc.


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General membership of a friends group varies widely from informal to formal. Some groups manage membership as a mailing or email list. Other groups require annual dues in order to become a member. Membership fees, anywhere from $5-$500, enable friends groups to have an ongoing income that funds activities that support the mission.

Membership participation varies as well. Members should be updated about friends group activities, invited to events and meetings, informed about important issues, and involved in decision-making. A strong membership includes people of various experiences, backgrounds, ages, and skills.