York Urbanist


Your curling organization requires a board of management which ensures that the business of curling includes: financial plan; marketing plan; and operations plan.

IMG_6818So who are these people who make up the Board? Think about your club.  Have you been asked to help run a fundraiser because the roof leaks onto the ice?  Or perhaps, there is an event every week you can attend! And the ice conditions hold up every week of your 27 week season. Yup – finance, marketing and operations. There are maybe ten persons who meet monthly to keep the business running smoothly. But sometimes…. Club members believe things go awry.

The scuttlebutt – you can ensure that the board makeup can run the business.  Like a board of management of a municipality, your board members have to be excellent communicators with stakeholders.  As in a commercial business board of directors, leadership and decision-making is critical.

Let us look at flawed processes of the board selection. One such process is the line-up of possible candidates. When the row of people is asked to step forward to apply, all but one steps back.  Another process is the formal election.  Secretly, applications flood in to the existing board. Counting the applications, the existing board finds that only half the positions on the board can be filled. So, all applicants are acclaimed and much of last year’s board stays on, less motivated.

Review the governance model, likely found in your corporation bylaws. If the document has not been reviewed for five years, then make changes to it. Your club board should have GOALS:

  • club vibrancy;
  • membership growth or stability;
  • great curling facility;
  • fun atmosphere;
  • fiscal responsibility; and,
  • a clear view of the future of your club.

Accordingly, here are some considerations to give to governance.

Limit the number of years that each board member can sit on the Board, to avoid the staleness that can ensue. I was on the board of a junior curling tour for five years and I had a good handle on the program.  Although the tour grew through my tenancy on the board, it turns out that the tour experienced even more growth after I left.  This was the power of the change of ideas. A board has to change personnel to keep the fresh face of the organization. Television series have a life because the same creative writers run out of new ideas.  So too do recreation activities. In tennis, the sport is flourishing today because Tennis Canada changed course about ten years ago to emphasize elite players. Milos Raonic and Genie Bouchard became the faces of tennis and growth of the sport re-emerged.

Curling is experiencing a small revival with the acceptance in Canada for Mixed Doubles. Has your club accepted it? If not, perhaps your board has the timeworn saying: “we have always done it that way”. Perhaps the board needs to change. And, perhaps the board members need and want a rest. Limit the number of years on your board to no more than five.  Each board member should reapply for election every two years.

Look for skills and connections that people in the club can contribute.  Start by asking on membership applications for their occupation, strengths and interests (for privacy, request it as an option). You may find a cross over with another sport or cultural organization or service club.  Perhaps the link with a summer sport would attract new members to your winter sport.  There might be a mechanical contractor, or an accountant, or a marketing expert.  Most participants in a sport are willing volunteers, if their task is finite.  The board needs to have the information about their members and then flatter them by asking for their help.

Graduate persons through positions on the board. A director without portfolio may indicate a desire to specialize.  Graduate them to that specialty. Avoid assigning someone to a board position that they detest… it is a sure way to dissuade them from continuing. Each board member should have an assignment based on the budget.  Typically, the board positions include:

  • President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Programs director
  • Membership Retention and Marketing director
  • Facility Capital and Maintenance director

Having passed through positions, one who understands the finances, the operations and the programs of the club becomes the most eligible President.

Represent all the stakeholders.  A one gender board will have bias. The best players will have difficulty understanding the needs of the beginning curler. If, through the elections, one part of the membership is missing representation, then assign a selected board member to mentor or sit on the board.  Consider having a junior sit on the board.

Hold elections for the board of directors. Many clubs go through the motions for an election. But often, there are just enough candidates to fill the positions by being asked to stand.  Flattered, most who are asked will run. What if there is a true election?  Those running, who do not get elected, should be assigned tasks to assist the board, because it is obvious that they are motivated.

So, who runs your curling business?