Did you know that email connects 85% of the world? And a May 2011 Pew Internet survey finds that amongst online adults, 92% use email, with 61% using it on an average day!

Having an email address is a must nowadays and it is surprising to see that there are still people who don’t use email, or don’t want to give out their email address. For a Neighborhood Council volunteer though, it is crucial to have email, so they can connect to their constituents and are able to respond to the stakeholder’s need in a timely manner. For Neighborhood Councils, it is imperative to have several email addresses. Emails need to be used so that City officials can keep the board up-to-date. The Neighborhood Council email should also be used for online accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The public also needs to have access to board emails so that they can easily contact the board or the various committees when they need.

The best examples of board emails are from the Neighborhood Councils of Hollywood Hills West, Arroyo Seco, Eagle Rock, United Neighborhoods, West LA, Westside, Hollywood Studio District, and Venice. They are using seat assigned emails so that the stakeholder can reach the correct person who is seated in that position even if new people were seated after elections. This is great because these emails don’t require an insider to know who to contact. The public doesn’t have to know the persons name to be able to address the board or the committee. Also, these emails can have several people assigned to them, which is beneficial especially for opening social media accounts with an outreach@ NC email, or a committee like Arts & Culture can have both chairs assigned to use the artsandculture@ NC email.

Here are 8 reasons why your Neighborhood Council should get their own email plan, and not use board members’ personal emails:

  1. Branding. Your board will look more professional and it will reinforce your website address to people, when they read your email like president@venicenc.org
  2. Setting up website domain and hosting. Even when the board changes, the website and the domain belong to the Council and the stakeholders, not an individual. By setting up the domain and the hosting accounts with the Neighborhood Councils email and address, the board can safely assign any webmaster limited access to the site for site maintenance without giving the webmaster an option to withhold the website from the board if the board decides to change the designer.
  3. Transparency. Any stakeholder can contact the board with a simple Neighborhood Council email address without having to know individuals names.
  4. Setting up Facebook, Twitter, or Google accounts. When people type in your general Neighborhood Council email address, they will be able to find your Fanpage, your Twitter feed or your Google profile. Assign several people to receive notifications when passwords are changed, when someone posts a comment, or when any changes happen to the account, and you can ensure that no social media site will be lost do to a vengeful person or due to hacking.
  5. Signing in at meetings. If you go to a meeting to talk about an issue in your neighborhood, a Neighborhood Council email will ensure that the board is kept up to date on the project.
  6. Archiving. Even after board seats change “hands”, past board emails can be traced back if they are archived in an unlimited inbox. Personal emails get deleted and the board can’t have access to it if a member falls ill or goes on vacation.
  7. Stay professional. Keep your personal email to yourself and use the board email for board related purposes.  Also, if you get a Public Records Act request for board related business, your personal emails may be subject to disclosure if you mix your board and personal emails.
  8. Stay private. Your personal email can be traced on social media sites as well as any public document where you used your email just like the board email. Keep your social media sites private, that way you don’t need to mix professional relationships with your personal.

There are many things that Neighborhood Council volunteers need to keep track of and think about, so make life simpler while on the board and get your Council to assign emails for the seated members. Buy an unlimited plan so that emails can be archived and so that stakeholders can find you and communicate with you easier. This should be one of the first steps in reaching out to the community and getting them involved.