Table of Contents

Section I -- Organizational Requirements
  • What does it mean to be "incorporated?"
  • Why is being incorporated important for councils?
  • How do I have my council incorporated?
  • How do we obtain 501(c)(3) designation (tax-exempt status)?
  • What guidelines should I follow to be sure my council operates efficiently?
  • What type of information should be included in my council's bylaws?
  • Sample bylaws
Section 2 -- Leadership and Governance
  • I have just been elected president -- now what?
  • What can I do to become a more effective leader?
  • What are common responsibilities and duties of council officers?
  • What records should council maintain? Who keeps them? Where? For how long?
  • How do I run a meeting?
  • How can I reduce the possibility of conflict during my meetings?
  • Can I be an effective leader? What are my strengths? Weaknesses? (A worksheet)
Section 3 -- Defining the Neighborhood
  • How many and what types of businesses are located in my neighborhood?
  • How many and what types of schools, religious institutions, and social services agencies are here?
  • What types of services or charitable activities do they provide to area residents?
  • What do the residents of my neighborhood look like?
  • What do they want and need?
  • Who among them are potential council members and/or volunteers?
  • How do we organize groups in my neighborhood?
  • What are some points we should know before going door-to-door?
  • What are Block watch groups? How are they formed?
Section 4 -- Government Relations and Other Partnerships

This section includes a community-produced directory of important neighborhood contacts and resources, as well as a brochure and booklet listing key information about county and state departments and county-wide elected representatives. Also included is a segment devoted to special programs sponsored by the City of Cincinnati.

Section 5 -- Grants and Grant Writing
  • What is the Grants Resource Center?
  • How do I get started writing a grant proposal?
  • How do I determine who to ask for funds?
  • What are some do's and don'ts of grant writing?
  • What is an RFP? How do I use it to prepare my proposal?
  • What are my responsibilities if I get funded?
  • Who can apply for an Invest Merit Grant?

Leadership Manual

Defining the Neighborhood

   Neighborhood Asset Inventory
   Recruiting Your Neighbors To Participate
   Tips For Doorknocking
   Block Watchers


The Neighborhood Asset Inventory is made up of several parts which are listed below. Following this list is a brief narrative providing the philosophy and possible uses for the inventory. You may duplicate and/or modify each inventory to use as your community sees fit. Before making changes, read through all the inventories to be sure you are not recreating what is already there.

  • Physical and Social Description of the Neighborhood; Political Representation
  • Inventory of Neighborhood Organizations, Associations, and Clubs
  • Individual Asset Inventory
  • Household Inventory


The Neighborhood Asset Inventory is adapted from an inventory developed in Indianapolis which is based on two sources: John Kretzmann and John McKnight's Building Communities From the Inside Out and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Training Institute's Community Assessment Survey. The philosophy which guides this approach to community development is to recognize that neighborhoods not only have needs (often surveyed through "Needs Assessment" surveys), but that they also have assets. Once these assets become recognized, and people in the neighborhood with these assets begin to collaborate with one another, they are significant players in the rebuilding of neighborhoods and communities. The philosophy upon which the survey is based is also found at Xavier University's "Community Building Institute." Xavier provides leadership training consistent with this philosophy, and you may wish to contact their Community Affairs Office for further assistance with the survey and this approach to understanding and (re)building your neighborhood.

You can use all or parts of the inventory to get to know various aspects of your neighborhood or to collaborate with other organizations that display similar approaches to neighborhood development. Once the information is collected, it would be good public relations, good networking, and beneficial to membership development if it were printed and distributed by the community council. Some parts of the inventory may also be used by other organizations in your neighborhood. For instance:

  • The "Individual and Household Asset Inventory" could be useful for other clubs, such as Block Clubs or organizations, other civic organizations, or even churches. One of these, or a neighborhood-based social agency, could use it to help begin a "Time-Dollar" program, which is one name for a local skill-exchange network;
  • the "Business-Related Inventories" could be useful to the local business association or Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC);
  • the "Neighborhood Organizations, Associations, and Agencies Inventory" might be used to compile a neighborhood calendar. This would not only encourage neighborhood participation, but could also be a service project and a moneymaker for a club or association.


The information needed to complete the forms provided here for download can be collected from a variety of places. We provide some suggestions at the top of each inventory; however, you may identify additional sources and methods of data collection. (The survey forms we provide are in Adobe Acrobat format for easy viewing and printing on your own computer. You need the free Acrobat reader to open the file. If you don't have it, you can obtain it here.)

  • Some of the data in these inventories is available in the Community/Customer Guide section of the Cincinnati Bell Yellow Pages. Also check specific headings such as "Schools," "Libraries," "Churches," and "Social Service Organizations." Additional information is listed in the Customer Guide section of the Cincinnati Bell Alphabetical Directory.
  • Both the City of Cincinnati and the League of Women Voters print pamphlets that contain information on local political officials. Samples are included in this manual; however, you will need to obtain updated versions which are usually available at the City Hall Information Desk or by contacting the producer of the pamphlets.
  • Have two people work together when completing a windshield survey: one drives, and the other takes down names, addresses, etc.
  • Ask area service providers to make surveys available in their offices so that neighborhood residents can complete them while they wait.
  • Contact a high school or college class to help with door-to-door surveys. They may help collect and tabulate the data as a community service project.