Officers and Board Members Manual
OFFICERS’ AND BOARD MEMBERS’ MANUAL FOR STATE AND SPECIAL INTEREST AFFILIATES
(Individual Office Manuals are available by e-mail)
Table of Contents
- PROCEDURES DURING BOARD MEETINGS
- BETWEEN MEETINGS
- APPOINTING COMMITTEES
- PLANNING CONVENTIONS
- DUTIES DURING SPECIAL INTEREST CONVENTIONS
- DUTIES DURING STATE CONVENTIONS
- PERMANENT RECORDS
- OPENING CHECKING ACCOUNTS
- GENERAL FINANCIAL GUIDELINES
- MAINTAINING CHECKING ACCOUNTS
- BUDGETING PROCESS
- SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS
- FINANCIAL REPORTS
- FUND-RAISING RECORDS
- MEMBERSHIP LISTS
- MAILING LISTS
- AFFILIATES WITH OFFICES
- FEDERAL TAX FILINGS
- STATE TAX REQUIREMENTS
- FILING INCORPORATION PAPERS
- PUBLIC RELATIONS
- SOME MAJOR COMMITTEE GUIDELINES
- SIMPLIFIED ROBERT’S RULES OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE
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This manual was written to assist state and special interest affiliate presidents. This document is meant to assist the affiliate presidents with procedures that would be beneficial for the organization. It should help make transition from one president to another easier.
All affiliates operate in different ways but these guidelines should pertain to all. Obviously, not all presidents have the same capabilities and these are not meant to discourage any current presidents. However, this manual is meant to provide some guidelines that should benefit the affiliate.
This manual contains the normal president’s duties. It gives procedures to follow when conducting meetings. There is a section briefly describing the most important “Roberts� Rules of Order”. Information about appointing committees and outlines of duties for these committees are also discussed. It also explains how the president and the treasurer work together to open, maintain, and balance checking accounts. Secretary’s reports, treasurer’s reports, and requirements for those positions at meetings are covered since the president works with these two officers much of the time.
Maintaining the membership and mailing lists are covered thoroughly since each affiliate has different people in charge of these lists. Finally, tax filings, incorporation filings, and other information about possible documents are discussed.
Prodcedures During Board Meetings
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NOTE: These guidelines can be followed for regular meetings, conference calls, and pre convention or post-convention board meetings. (See section on “SIMPLIFIED ROBERT’S RULES”)
- The president should make sure the secretary has a tape recorder ready to tape all board meetings. Notes can be taken in whatever form is preferred by the secretary: Braille, computer, or handwriting. If the secretary is using both the tapes and the notes, it will make certain that all wordings can be verified for the motions and other actions taken by consensus.
- The secretary should list the official time any meeting starts, the date, and the place of the meeting.
- After the president calls the meeting to order, the secretary should be asked to call the roll. The secretary must be prepared to call the names of all the board members and record who is or is not present. This is important when votes are taken. Also, the president must know if a quorum is present before starting the meeting. A quorum must be present for any major action to be taken.
- The president should next ask if anyone has anything to add to the agenda that had been prepared and sent to board members prior to the meeting. The president should have these sent in advance and also have them available at the meeting itself. If this meeting is a conference call, the president should have the agenda sent at least ten days before the call. The president should read the agenda on the call or have the secretary read the agenda. If additions are requested, the president should suggest a time on the agenda to add these items. The president should then ask for a motion to approve the agenda. After the motion is made, seconded, and passed, the president presents the next topic on the agenda (usually the minutes of the prior meeting).
- The president should ask the secretary to read the previous meeting’s minutes. For many affiliates, the reading is waived and the president may just ask for additions or corrections. A motion accomplishes this waiver only if all board members have had the opportunity to read the minutes. Sometimes it is waived even when all have not read the minutes if they are no longer considered to be relevant.
- The president should ask for a motion to approve the minutes if no one has already made the motion. When someone moves the approval, the president asks for a second. After the second, the president asks for approval from the board. After asking for an aye or nay, the president determines the fate of the motion. If a motion seems to be a tie vote,
a roll call vote must be taken. (This is the procedure for all motions made.) If the president or a board member asks for a roll call, the secretary reads the role and asks each board
member for their vote. When all have been recorded, the totals are presented. In the case of a tie vote, the president may break the tie.
- During the rest of the meeting, the secretary must be prepared to record any motions (in a chronological order) that are made, to call the roll for a roll call vote, and to record any actions that are taken by consensus. When motions are made, the name of the person making the motion is usually noted. Any policy decisions made by consensus must be recorded. Minutes should be as brief as possible. When discussion occurs, it is not necessary for the secretary to explain the details. A comment stating that a “discussion followed” is generally sufficient. Events and dates decided upon would be considered actions by consensus.
- Everyone must understand all motions voted on. The president or secretary should ask for them to be repeated if necessary. The records need to be clear and accurate for future reference.
- The president should instruct the secretary to record only the main essentials of the treasurer’s report. Also, the president should request the treasurer to give a copy of the report to the secretary for the permanent record. These may be needed in the future if questions develop. For example, if the treasurer’s next report is disputed. Amounts may be checked against previous closing balances.
- At the end of the meeting, the time the meeting was adjourned should be recorded.
- An important guest should be noted if this would be useful in the future.
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- Following each board meeting, the president should ask the secretary to read the notes carefully to see if they are clear. The tape recordings can be helpful if there are any questions. If questions arise soon, it is easier to get a consensus among board members present at the meeting about any discrepancy.
- The president may ask for a copy of the minutes in order to respond to any necessary business. Most presidents make notes themselves but some do not.
- A copy of the minutes may be printed in the organization newsletter. Since most of these are in alternative format, it may be easier for a small affiliate to get information out this way. Some affiliates prefer this way of communicating minutes because there is less chance of members getting incorrect information about what transpired at board meetings. This is also a way for all members to know what is happening in the affiliate since they may not have the opportunity to attend many board meetings. This may not be possible for larger affiliates who cover more business, but a summary could be provided to the newsletter.
- The president must instruct the secretary to send notices to board members about the upcoming board meetings. Some presidents take care of this themselves.
- The president should remind the secretary a month before the next meeting, copies of the minutes should be sent to all board members in alternative formats (i.e. Braille or tape and large print).
- The president needs to communicate with officers, board members, and committee chairs in between meetings to make sure the on-going activities are proceeding as they should. The president should request reports on committees as necessary and should require important information to be sent to the newsletter for publication.
- The president should also keep in contact with chapter presidents. If the president has e-mail, a message can be sent periodically to each local president to keep a connection between the affiliate and local members. If the president does not have e-mail, contact can be made by phone or letter. The president can delegate this communication link to the vice president(s) or other board members.
- The president needs to write a message for the affiliate newsletter each time it goes to print. Regular deadlines are established by most newsletter editors. This is another connection between local members and the affiliate.
- The president should recommend seminars for leadership or membership development from time to time.
- The president will encounter difficult people occasionally and receive many complaints. A president should listen carefully to all complaints and suggestions and use tact and good judgment when handling them. Often, the person bringing the concern to the president will simply want a sympathetic response. If further follow-up is necessary, a president may consult with the vice president(s) or other officers or board members for further input.
9. Periodically, at least once a year, a fund-raising letter should be written to members and friends. This can be a communication mechanism as well as a fund-raising letter that informs the mailing list of current activities as well as requesting funds.
10. The president should request the secretary to send information in a timely manner to local presidents regarding special days celebrated or recognized. Examples include “Braille Literacy Week” and “White Cane Safety Day”. Local chapters should be encouraged to have special activities for these special days. The state affiliate presidents should also try to have the governor in the state sign a proclamation for these two special times. Contact the governor’s office in plenty of time in order to get important publicity this activity can generate.
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- The president needs to appoint all committee chairpersons. Sometimes presidents appoint the whole committee and sometimes presidents ask the chair to appoint the rest of the committee withthe approval of the president. Usually, the chair has some input as to who the members of the committee should be. Sometimes, a president may delegate this committee responsibility to a vice president.
- When appointing members to committees, the president should choose people from a variety of backgrounds and geographical locations. In this way, the president will be seen as trying to be fair. Of course, the ability of the members to accomplish a given responsibility is important. Often committees are a way to link local chapters with the state or special interest affiliate.
- Standing committees are the committees that regularly function. These are sometimes listed in the constitution and bylaws of the organization. Some examples are: Membership, Fund-raising, Credentials, Budget, Constitution and Bylaws, Resolutions, Publications, etc. It is important for the president to know what committees are required. Some standing committees are required by motion of the board of directors or by the convention.
- The president appoints ad hoc committees after a request has been expressed by the board of directors, a motion at a convention, or a resolution passed by the convention.
- Standing committees are on-going committees while most ad hoc committees have a limited term. Sometimes the term is specified in the original board motion, convention motion, or resolution. Other times the committee simply continues until the specific tasks identified are finished.
- The president needs to instruct the chairs of committees on the duties of the committee and what is expected of the members of each committee.
- The following suggestions to the chairs would be appropriate. The chair should tell all committee members to give feedback and not expect the chair to have all the ideas. Each committee should write a list of specific goals and objectives for the year. A list of proposed strategies to use to attain the goals written should be decided. If any funding is necessary to complete committee tasks, the chair should present these requests to the President or the Budget Committee. Each committee member should be assigned a specific task or responsibility for some aspect of the committee work. Their should be a specific time frame given for each task so that the progress of activities can be checked. The chair should be prepared to ask if any problem or concern developed which caused a particular task not to be achieved and if they need a different assignment for some reason. Committee members should be encouraged to come to the chair so the chair need not ask over and over again. The chair must prepare any necessary reports for the president or the board. The chair must check with members of the committee to make sure the committee goals are completed on time.
- The president is an ex-official member of all committees and may be as involved in them as is suitable for that committee. The president can assign this duty to a vice president or board member as appropriate.
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- The president needs to appoint committees to plan the annual or biannual convention. Here again, using a variety of people to serve on committees is the best way to encourage more participation from members. The president also needs to either visit prospective future hotels or ask a committee to do this.
- When participating in sight selection, varied cities should be considered. Obviously, transportation in that area as well as the prices involved for each hotel need to be considered. After the president or a committee has located a few hotels with decent rates and amenities, the board of directors should decide which one is most feasible. If the president does not have time to research several hotels, a committee should be recommended. Members get dissatisfied if choices are not presented. Also, rates are usually higher if there is no obvious competition. After a board decision is made, a contract should be signed as soon as possible with the chosen hotel. Most hotels give a time-line for that particular rate.
- Typical convention committees include: program committee, resolutions committee, constitution and by-laws committee, awards committee (if your affiliate has awards), scholarship committee (if one), decorating committee (if there is a luncheon or banquet), and people to handle registration, microphones and taping of programs, and other services.
- The president needs to keep in touch with the convention hotel as time passes to make sure no problems have arisen. Also, meal functions will need to be planned in time to let members know prices early enough.
- Once committees have been appointed, the president needs to check on their progress from time to time.
- Pre-registration forms make it easier to plan ahead for convention space and meal functions. Some affiliates offer a discount to members who register in advance of the convention. Pre-registration also makes it easier for those handling the registration table.
Duties During Special Interest Conventions
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- Special interest affiliates have different practices concerning who opens the convention. In many, the president presides and introduces different program presenters. In others, the program chair will open the session. If banquets or luncheons are part of the activities, an M.C. often leads this part. In most cases, however, the president does welcome the membership and guests present at the sessions.
- In a few special interest affiliates, the roll call of states is recorded at the annual convention. The president should remind the secretary to register the delegate, alternate delegate, and the delegate for the nominating committee for the affiliate elections. Of course, the president needs to choose the chair of the nominating committee.
- For these same affiliates the president should make sure the secretary will be present at the nominating committee just long enough to make sure that the correct people are present. After that, the nominating committee chair is in charge of this meeting.
- The Resolutions Committee chair will present the resolutions and the chair of the Constitution and By-laws Committee will present the possible changes to those documents.
- The president should make sure the secretary takes convention minutes which usually consist only of motions made on the floor and resolutions brought forward.
- A copy of the convention program will usually suffice for the other parts of the convention.
- For the affiliates that do have state chapters, a roll call vote may be taken at any time during the convention.
- During the business meeting, the president may have the previous year’s minutes read. This depends on the affiliate and if the membership wants this information. The members present may also waive with a motion.
- During the pre-board meeting or business meeting, an A.C.B. delegate and a delegate to the nominating committee for A.C.B. needs to be assigned. Since the decision needs to be made before the first session of A.C.B., the board of directors of the affiliate may need to make the recommendation rather than the membership at large. Of course, when voting at the A.C.B. convention occurs, any member can help the delegate make decisions on how the affiliate should vote unless a decision was previously discussed during the business meeting.
Duties During State Conventions
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- The president usually presides at all program sessions for the convention. If a banquet or luncheon is planned, sometimes an M.C will introduce guests.
- The president must appoint an auditing committee unless the affiliate has a company audit the books yearly. A chair for the nominating committee must also be appointed. Some presidents also choose the members of the nominating committee and other affiliates vote on the other members of the committee after the president has assigned this responsibility. In affiliates where there are chapters, the nominating committee may consist of a member from each chapter. The president should read the current Constitution and By-laws to understand the procedure followed in that state.
- The membership must vote on the delegate to the A.C.B. convention. Usually, the president is the one voted to go but if that person is unable to attend, another choice may be made by the membership. Usually, the alternate delegate is chosen by the delegate but sometimes the affiliate chooses this person also.
- When elections are to take place, the president will ask the chair of that committee to read the nominations voted on in that committee. After the names are presented, the president will preside. If the president is up for re-election, he will step aside for that position vote and the vice president will take over for that vote. When the president reads the position and the name from the nominating committee, the membership will be asked for any nominations they wish to present. He will say, (Are there any nominations from the floor?” After each request for nominations, this question will be repeated until the request has been made three times without any response. At this time, someone must make a motion to close nominations and a vote can take place. This motion must have a second and a vote taken. If there are no nominations from the floor, someone may make a motion to move that nominations cease and the person be accepted by acclamation. This motion must be seconded and a vote taken.
- The president must be sure the secretary or designee is prepared to record any motions made at the convention.
- The resolutions chair presents resolutions. All resolutions must be recorded (usually by the secretary) for use later.
- The Constitution and By-laws chair presents the possible changes in the Constitution and By-laws.
- The president should ask if the secretary is prepared to read the previous year’s minutes if required to do so during the business session. Some affiliates do not do this at all. Others make a motion to waive it.
- A copy of the program should be kept which will serve as minutes of the rest of the convention.
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- Letterhead stationery should be used for all correspondence. This shows more credibility especially when writing fund-raising letters. An affiliate may choose to order a signature disk that a secretary could use to sign letters with the president’s signature. Of course, any time a secretary uses it, prior permission must be granted by the president.
- Correspondence is handled differently in each affiliate. It is important to determine who handles what correspondence as soon as an officer takes over a new position.
- If your affiliate has a corresponding secretary the correspondence is usually handled by that person.
- Some affiliates have the secretary do most of the correspondence unless the president chooses to take care of it. This may be determined by the amount of time each person has available or it may depend on what writing skills each person has.
- Even though the secretary usually handles sending resolutions to the proper parties noted on the resolution, the president should ask the secretary when this will be finished. If no specifics are written on the resolution the president should direct the secretary what to do in each case.
- Many affiliates designate chairs of different committees to do their own correspondence. The president should make sure the correspondence is handled in a timely manner. due to the broad range of limitations or capabilities correspondence assignments may change depending on the chairs of committees.
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- The president should know whether the secretary keeps on file the copies of the Constitution and Bylaws.
- If your affiliate has a special seal the secretary needs to keep this unless someone else handles most of the correspondence.
- The president should make sure all official minutes are kept for a minimum of 5 years. It is helpful if these are kept permanently for the history of the organization.
- All motions should be kept on file for reference in the future. It is easier if your affiliate has a separate file of motions by date rather than having to look through all your minutes to find a prior motion.
- A file of resolutions is necessary for future reference. It is helpful to retain these in a separate file. Categorizing can be helpful. However keep the categories broad or future officers may have trouble finding the right ones. You could have an index but that takes time to create.
- Resolutions and motions are often used for forming policy decisions so it is very important to retain these longer than five years.
- A list of current chapters in a state affiliate or state affiliates in a special interest affiliate should be recorded. The secretary should also maintain a current list of officers. The president should also have copies of these.
Opening Checking Accounts
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- A federal tax identification number is necessary before opening a checking account. If the affiliate does not have a federal identification number the bank will use the Social Security number of the president and treasurer or whoever opens the account. This would cause the bank to list that person as having earned the interest for that account.
- To receive a tax identification number an application must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service. This only requires filling out a form listing the current officers of the organization and their signatures.
- Each checking and savings account should have at least two signatures. Usually the president and the treasurer are the two signers although this is sometimes based on where the signers live. Emergency situations may come up where the second signature may be needed.
- An account should only be opened or closed with the permission of the president or the board of directors.
- When looking for a different bank to open any checking account all charges should be thoroughly investigated. Some banks charge for each check written and each deposit made. Some charge a monthly service charge. Some allow the account to earn interest if the account maintains a certain average balance but will charge a fee if not maintaining that balance. Some have no service charge but no interest if the account maintains a certain balance. Some banks allow accounts with no service charge for nonprofit organizations.
General Financial Guidelines
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- All treasurers should be bonded for an amount established by the board of directors. Bonding the treasurer will keep affiliates from incurring any losses due to errors or improper disbursement of funds. Some affiliates also bond the president as the second signature on the account. Bonding companies can vary greatly in their charges. It is advisable to check with other nonprofit organizations in the local area to determine which would best serve the needs of the affiliate.
- No withdrawals, disbursement, transfers, or investments should be made without the direction or approval of the president or the board of directors.
- Some special interest affiliates have a fiscal year starting on July 1 and ending on June 30. This is because their business meeting might be used for planning the yearly budget. Others may use the membership deadline to start the next fiscal year. State affiliates are generally based on the calendar year (January 1 to December 31). Those affiliates who use the July 1 to June 30 or the membership deadline as the beginning of the fiscal year for their accounting should contemplate changing to the calendar year. It is much easier when calculating figures for tax forms that have to be filed. However, the affiliate must decide which is the most efficient for their needs. There are sometimes federal grants that ask for earnings based on the federal year which is from October 1 to September 30.
Maintaining Checking Accounts
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- Records of checks and deposits need to be kept clear and accurate. This will make it easier for an audit to occur without any problems and it will facilitate the changing of positions at a later date.
- Each bill needs to be filed so that there is a receipt for each check written. It is helpful to write the check number on each bill paid to make it easier to check later.
- Any check written needs to be approved by the president or the board of directors. Some affiliates required written approval while others just require oral approval. New presidents should ask about past requirements.
- If possible, a note should be written on the check memo stating the purpose of the check. This may eliminate confusion if more than one check has been written to the same party.
- Each month a bank statement will be sent to the treasurer. Each check and deposit should be verified on the check register to be sure that all figures are correct.
- Check charges and bank charges need to be deducted or interest that may accrue needs to be added to the register.
- The balance on the check register must agree with the balance on the statement after adding additional deposits and interest to the register amount and subtracting any additional checks and charges from the statement.
- It will be easier to understand the types of expenses if these records are categorized on a computer spread sheet
- Some affiliates would rather use a ledger as a second way to verify the check registers. The ledger can also categorize expenditures. This would allow longer explanations to be noted.
- If your affiliate uses either a ledger or a spread sheet, the totals should always agree with the check register.
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- A few affiliates have the president present the budget for approval. However, most affiliates have the treasurer draw up the budget while others have a finance or budget committee. In most cases, however, the treasurer has to gather the data from the year before.
- It is easiest to get the figures of expenses and contributions or earnings from the previous year and delete old expenses and add in new expenses in order to prepare the most precise budget.
- It is beneficial to get input from committee chairs to get the possible expenses for the next year if there will be any.
- Most affiliates do not have any special rules about spending over the budget limit. Most have the board initially approve the budget. The affiliate constitution and bylaws should be consulted to make sure that no special instructions have been provided.
- A budget guides the treasurer in paying bills. If the budget for expenses is close to the limit the treasurer should consult the president about the proper procedure.
- Sometimes the board of directors may need to be consulted when a large expenditure is presented that was not on the original budget.
Savings and Investments
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- No savings and investments should be made without the approval of the president or the board of directors. The by-laws of your affiliate may have special rules concerning these types of accounts.
- Sufficient funds should be kept in the checking account to minimize bank charges. Some banks offer interest or no fees if the balance remains high enough. This advantage should be weighed against the interest that same amount would earn in a savings account.
- Some treasurers are given the approval to withdraw the interest from a savings account as needed for the checking account. The president should make sure a new treasurer understands what the limitations are when starting a position so no controversy arises later.
- Some affiliates allow the treasurer to add to the savings whenever the balance reaches a set amount as long as it is reported to the president and at the next board meeting. Other affiliates make those recommendations for adding more to the savings when the treasurer gives the report at a board meeting.
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- The treasurer�s report consists of the beginning balance, a list of expenses (in categories), and a list of income in categories such as donations and fund-raising activities.
- This is generally a summary but the treasurer must be prepared to answer questions about any particular amount.
- A report is usually given at each regular board meeting and convention and the business meeting for national special interest affiliates.
- Each treasurer should send out a copy of the report before the next board meeting in an alternative format (i.e. Braille, computer disk, or tape and large print).
- The treasurer may prefer to send a copy of the report to the newsletter editor for publication so it is in an alternative format and for members to read. This is easier for many smaller affiliates.
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- When the president appoints the fund-raising committee, usually the treasurer is asked to serve on it. The treasurer is responsible for keeping track of all funds.
- If using a professional fund-raiser, a separate account must be kept since expenses must come out before the money can be considered the affiliates’ to use.
- Some fund-raising income can be kept in the checking account but should be clearly designated when deposited so later it can be determined if a particular fund-raiser is worth attempting again.
- As noted under the mailing list, donors from fund-raising letters should be designated. Usually, these donors are willing to donate again in the future.
- Fund-raising often needs to be encouraged by the president and the treasurer since these officers know how much money is needed.
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- Membership lists should be kept accurate and as up to date as possible.
- Each entry should contain the members name address and phone number.
- Each entry should also give the choice of format for both the Affiliates Newsletter and the Braille Forum.
- Each entry should tell the mailing status such as blind or sighted. Some affiliates may prefer to designate blind visually impaired or sighted. The U.S. Post Office regulations E040.4.0 through E040.4.2 pertain to mail sent without postage. These require that mail sent without postage meet certain requirements. First, the person sent the mail must be unable to read regular print (blind or physically handicapped). Paper, Braille, records, tapes, or other material for the production of reading matter is allowed. The size of the type must be 14 point or larger to be eligible. The envelopes must be left unsealed and must contain the words “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” on the upper right corner of the addressed side.
- It would be helpful for membership retention to designate whether a member is a new member or a renewal. With this designation it would be easier to check if prior members have renewed. This would allow affiliates to call members to find out why they have not renewed. It would also help if reminder letters are sent to members not responding with dues after a certain date. It also will help insure that new members are added to the lists going to the national office for both membership dues and the Braille Forum.
- The A.C.B. office sends out a membership list each year to check against the current list and affiliates will have to add any new members to that A.C.B. list. The deadline for A.C.B. is March 1
- Each affiliate has it’s own membership deadline.
- The treasurer must be sure to provide the information to all who handle the membership lists after receiving each member’s dues. This needs to be done throughout the year as any dues are received.
- It may be easier to change information and retrieve information if you use a computer. Many affiliates use computers for their lists. A variety of programs are currently used. They include: Word Perfect Lotus D Base Excel, Access, Microsoft Works, or Microsoft Word. If you are using a print or Braille list, it will be easier if it is in alphabetical order.
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- Some affiliates combine their mailing list and membership list and just designate which names are members. This may depend on which method the affiliate uses for it’s records computer print or Braille.
- Mailing lists need to contain the name address and phone number of each person on the list. Phone numbers are helpful if a copy of a mailing comes back without a postal stamp marking the status. Also sometimes those stamps are not correct. Some mailings have come back marked deceased and the person was found to be very much alive later.
- Mailing lists should be checked periodically to make sure that those are up to date.
- Mailing lists need to contain postal information to indicate whether those can be sent free matter or not. It is the affiliate’s choice whether it just lists sighted or blind or whether it has visually impaired as a third listing (explanations of the Free Matter qualifications are listed under the Membership Lists).
- If this mailing list is used for fund-raising it may be helpful to note when the person has made a donation. Sometimes this is an indicator of interest in making donations in the future.
Affiliates with Offices
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- Offices can be used for permanent storage. This is a special benefit when officers change so often that records can be lost.
- Many offices have the equipment for transcribing minutes and treasurer�s reports in alternative format for board members. However, the secretary and treasurer must get the information to them in a timely manner to allow them to do so.
- The office will often file resolutions for the affiliate. The secretary must make sure that the office receives these.
- The secretary will have to separate the motions from the rest of the minutes in order for the office to file them. If the office does not currently have a separate file for motions, this practice might be encouraged. It will save time when looking for a particular motion later. The office might be the one asked to look through the minutes in the future otherwise.
- If offices do the accounting for the affiliate, it is important to have a viable check and balance system. This will allow the treasurer to easily follow what has transpired. The president needs to approve what checks are written by the accountant. The treasurer will be the one responsible for signing the checks and must understand what the accountant is working on. It is important for the treasurer to verify the amounts of checks before signing them. This also makes it easier in the future when an audit occurs.
- Most offices do not do any tax filing unless an accountant does the bookkeeping (tax information listed under “Federal Tax Filings” and “State Tax Filings”). The office will usually store all important documents such as incorporation papers, papers declaring the tax exempt status (501 C 3), the Constitution and By- laws, and any other papers necessary for the organization. However, most secretaries and treasurers keep a current copy of the most recent minutes and treasurers reports since they would be the ones questioned about them.
- It is important, for the president to understand what responsibilities are usually given to the office personnel and which ones are handled by the secretary and the treasurer.
- If the office takes care of the membership and mailing lists, it is important for the secretary and treasurer to get new members’ names and addresses to them as soon as possible to keep these records up to date. The information needed for these lists is given under the section labeled “Membership Lists” and “Mailing Lists”.
- Offices should try to accumulate a disk library of all the records. Not only do these disks take less room than paper records, but they are usually more accessible. If copies of these are kept in a different location from other records, no records will be totally lost if damage or loss occurs due to flood, fire, earthquake or misplacement through moves. This office can serve as a more permanent storage location.
Federal Tax Filings
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- Affiliates that earn under $25000 do not have to file for the Internal Revenue Service. If your affiliate wishes to do fund-raising and encourage contributors by indicating that the donations are tax exempt, 501 C 3 status is necessary.
- To receive tax exempt status, Form 1023 of the Internal Revenue Service must be completed. This application states which sections affect different organizations wishing tax exempt status. All affiliates would be listed as charitable organizations. This also explains that subordinate organizations that are covered by a group exemption letter do not have to file separately. In other words, a chapter in a state or a state special interest affiliate would not have to file for this tax exempt status if group exemption letters have been filed by the state or special interest affiliate.
- The affiliate will have to submit a description of the activities engaged in by the organization. The description given for a charitable organization is organized and operated for the benefit of public interest.
- File the completed form with all the necessary information with the key district office in the city where the organization’s key place of business or office is located.
- As soon as possible after the application is received, the affiliate will receive notice of the IRS determination. The affiliate will also be advised which annual returns the organization will be required to file.
- The application form gives addresses telling where to submit the form.
- Affiliates having receipts from $25,000 to $100,000 and having assets under $250,000 may submit the Form 990 EZ.
- Affiliates having receipts over $100,000 must submit the Form 990 unless there are unrelated business earnings. These are earnings from any enterprise that would be in competition with other businesses, i.e. thrift stores, food stands, or any competitive production. If an affiliate has any of these earnings, the Form 990T must be filed.
- Affiliates must send 1099’s to any subcontractors (persons working on specific projects), to renters of office space, or to individuals earning interest from loans.
- Any affiliate with employees have to file all federal tax forms for employees, i.e. Form 941 for federal income withholding tax, Social Security, and Medicare: Forms W2, W3, and W4’s; and Federal Unemployment forms.
- Workmen’s compensation insurance is also required for affiliates to cover any employee. This can be obtained through most insurance companies.
State Tax Requirements
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- Check what state tax documents must be filed for your organization, call your State Department of Revenue. Most states have limits for the amount of receipts that can be earned in a calendar year before any form needs to be filed. These amounts vary depending on the state. Some states require a form to be filed by all public charities.
- Many states have support services available for filing tax documents for non-profits.
- Many states charge sales tax even to non-profit organizations who hold raffles, bingos, or some other fund-raising activities. The State Department of Revenue will be able to give this information.
- Gambling licenses are required for most organizations that hold raffles, bingos, or similar chance activities. Some have less expensive ones available for one time raffles.
Filing Incorporation Papers
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- If the organization is incorporated papers have to be filed periodically. Some states have yearly filing requirements and some have biannual or tri-annual filing requirements.
- Do not allow this filing to lapse. There are substantial penalties for up dating lapsed incorporation papers.
- It is wise to choose either a member who will remain in the vicinity indefinitely or to have a lawyer as the registered agent.
- If the affiliate is not incorporated or no one is sure contact the state attorney general or the secretary of state. This will depend on which state the affiliate would be registered.
- Many special interest affiliates have the national office handle the registering and reporting for affiliate corporations in the District of Columbia. This is helpful since special interest affiliates have members in many states. If this is done for the affiliate the treasurer will receive a bill for the registration charge. The list of special interest affiliates that are currently having their filings done by the national office are as follows: A.C.B. Radio Amateurs A.C.B. Social Service Providers, American Blind Lawyers Association, Braille Revival League, Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, Council of Families with Visual Impairments, A.C.B. Friends in Art, Guide Dog Users Incorporated, National Alliance of Blind Students, National Association of Blind Teachers, Randolph Sheppard Vendors of America, and the Randolph Sheppard Service Corp. The D.C. Association of Workers for the Blind also has their incorporation papers filed by the national office.
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- The President needs to encourage the right amount of public awareness and publicity. This can be accomplished by appointing a public relations committee. Publicity helps to promote your group to a wider audience.
- Most newspapers have columns of weekly or monthly events. Information needs to be in early enough to meet their deadlines.
- Radio stations will often allow spot service announcements that give meeting times, places, dates, and other information. Check deadlines for information to be provided to them on time. Some stations have a weekly or monthly calendar of events.
- Some cable networks also have a scrolling screen covering coming events. (your affiliate could also use this opportunity to tell them that visually impaired persons need to rely on others to get this information and that it would be beneficial to have these calendars spoken aloud.)
- Radio reading services and telephone reading services should be contacted to see if announcements of events are allowed.
- Chapter or state newsletters should give dates, times, and places of regular chapter meetings.
- Phone trees are useful in calling members and other interested persons. Electronic phone tree programs are available that allow lists of phone numbers to be called with specific information are helpful for busy presidents who wish to pass on important or timely information.
- Special events sponsored by chapters or state or special interest affiliates are a good way to encourage new persons to come. Your group will want to get publicity.
- Publicity for special events needs to be planned ahead of time. Most media companies need two weeks to a month advance notice of an event.
- Radio news releases or interviews are a way to get the event publicized.
- TV interviews or news items generated by calling them about your special event work especially in smaller communities.
- Newspaper news releases and news coverage of special events are also possible if you plan for them.
- Articles about special coming events should also be included in affiliate and chapter newsletters.
- Notifying schools or other interested persons about special contests, awards, or scholarships is a good way to promote these special activities.
- Inviting college students to participate in your affiliate and chapter meetings after they apply for a scholarship is a good way to show interest in younger persons. Of course, inviting them before they apply is even better but sometimes members are not aware of some blind students until they do apply for a scholarship.
- Contests for younger children can create awareness in the community about your group. These can range from coloring and writing contests for classes in public schools or contests specifically for blind students.
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- Each affiliate should have its own brochure. The A.C.B. national office has A.C.B. brochures but local ones are important for fund-raising publicity in your local community.
- If the affiliate does not currently have a brochure, consider writing one. Even chapters sometimes use simple flyers so they have information to hand out when they have bake sales and other fund-raising projects.
- Brochures can be simple with just the most basic information about your group. Some brochures are more elaborate with pictures and more color.
- Brochures need to include the purpose of your group and its major projects. If brochures are used for fund-raising purposes, scholarship programs and other educational programs will make your organization seem more worthwhile.
- Brochures should include information about annual conventions and your main office information if any.
- Contact information needs to be given: address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses.
- A blank space for local chapters to put a local contact person’s business card or address label would be beneficial.
- Brochures should have a catchy color or phrase to attract attention to them.
- Include a membership form if space is available or a membership contact person.
Some Major Committee Guidelines
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Long Range Planning Committee
- Examine on-going efforts of the organization and make recommendations to the appropriate committee.
- Make long range goals appropriate for the time.
- Examine current practices of each committee and offer suggestions and/or solutions.
- Collaborate with other organizations on legislation or other joint efforts that may benefit members.
- Establish a time-line, if possible, for specific goals to be reached.
- Establish goals to promote membership growth.
- Initiate outreach efforts for membership drives.
- Keep membership lists accurate and up to date to make sure all members receive the newsletter.
- Send out membership renewal letter or coordinate with the affiliate office so a letter can be sent.
- Review the membership application to make sure it requests all the necessary information.
- Develop the itinerary for the affiliate convention and send it to the national office by due date if the affiliate is a special interest affiliate. If a state affiliate, give the “Braille Forum” editor information about your convention for interested members.
- Make sure a program chair is appointed for the convention and offer ideas if possible. Make sure the program schedule is turned in to the national office on time if the affiliate is a special interest affiliate.
- Work out prices and other details necessary to make the convention run smoothly.
- Decide what needs to be printed in the convention program and if the affiliate is a special interest affiliate, send this to the national office.
- The President should decide when the board meetings need to take place during the convention so the times can be included in the program.
- Work with the fund-raising committee if activities are taking place during the convention.
- Establish a state affiliate or special interest affiliate phone tree for the organization to help activate members when critical legislation needs immediate responses.
- Contact appropriate legislators when legislation affecting blind persons is recognized.
- Motivate members that advocacy is necessary for the growth and maintenance of blindness related programs.
- Inform legislators this organization is prepared to fight for any action taken that limits blindness related programs or activities.
- Collaborate with other organizations in order to forward or maintain these programs.
- Contact affiliate members as needed to call or write legislators or other government officials when necessary.
Budget and Finance Committee
- Establish a yearly budget and make changes as necessary.
- Inform the board of the current budget and how current expenses and income compare with the budget.
- Alert the board to major changes in the budget during the year.
- Coordinate with the Fund-raising Committee so they know of needed funding.
- Assist the treasurer with any questions that occur about on-going expenses.
- Make sure the publication is using basic guidelines established.
- Make changes in format and individual columns as necessary.
- Make sure the newsletter is sent to all members in a timely manner.
- Make sure the mailing list is kept up to date. The editor or affiliate office needs to have labels kept accurate.
- Make sure the newsletter contains relevant items.
- The editor should try to get printing costs as low as possible and consult with the publications committee about changes in the printing source. Costs should be checked from time to time to compare prices and the quality of the product.
- Check the printing and tape quality to make sure it is satisfactory.
- Remember that the newsletter is the primary way to pass the message that your affiliate is a viable organization that advocates for members and wants the best programs possible.
- Make sure that nothing inappropriate or offensive to members is published. This does not mean that differing opinions about programs or services cannot be offered but that these do not offend anyone’s gender, religion, ethnic background, disability, or sexual orientation as stated in equal opportunity laws.
- Explore new ideas or columns that may be of interest to members as a whole.
General Publication Guidelines
- Any guidelines written should be regularly checked to make sure they are followed on a regular basis. The president and publications chair should review them each year for possible updates.
- The Number of pages printed will be based on the information available and the funds allocated at that time.
- No comments by the editor should be made in any article. Editorial comments should be limited to an editor’s column.
- Surrounding facts can be inserted immediately before the article but no editorial remarks should be placed there. They should be written in the editor’s column.
- No comments, based on age, gender, disability, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, from other publications should be printed if they would bee offensive to any member. The editor should consult the publications committee about any article which might be offensive to members.
- The committee should try to get printing costs as low as possible and consult with the publications committee about changes in the printing source.
- Each newsletter should be written in the same type font and point size with the titles in a larger size. Section titles might be in a font point size larger than the title size. Titles should also be in Bold type face. You might encourage persons sending in article submissions to submit them in this same font style and point size.
- No titles should be hanging at the bottom of a page. No single sentence danglers should remain at the top of a page. This will help make your newsletter look more professional in nature.
- For graphics, using dashes, or other appropriate highlights, are easily read in an email. For printing the document, if you have disabled persons in your newsletter list, these do not interfere with brailing or speech devices. Stars or dashes are also appropriate between articles.
- Margins should be established so submissions could also be sent with those compatible with the usual newsletter. Obviously, this format should be listed in any query about submissions to reduce the time necessary in reformatting articles.
- If a significant amount of graphics is used in the issues, a version should be sent to your email subscribers before these additional graphics are added.
- Some printers have particular guidelines for page numbers. For example, you might need the newsletter’s total number of pages to be in multiples of four to make sure you don’t end up with blank pages. Articles not time sensitive can be taken off the current issue if necessary to conform to this page restriction.
- When reading any newsletter for an audio version, make sure a timer is used to gauge when each side should be completed. Before finishing each side (whether for CD or cassette), make sure the reader has stopped and is starting the recording on the next side at the same place. When starting to record each side, wait long enough to insure that no words are missed in the beginning of the tape. At the beginning of each side, the title of the article currently being read should be given. When starting each article, you may wish to indicate the page number. Speak slowly and clearly enough so all listeners will be able to understand the words. Also, do not have long pauses or breaks when reading. If the reader loses the place when reading, return to where you started the long pause and read where the reading left off. This will make the audio version sound more natural. If the reader coughs, sneezes, or has phone interruptions, please back up to cover these distractions. The audio version should sound as professional as possible.
Submission deadlines should be distributed widely to make it clear to those sending in articles for a particular issue.
The editor usually does the final formatting for the newsletter unless he/she requests help in the final formatting once the edition is put together. The publications chair should assist in compiling the articles and send them to the editor, office manager, and all committee members for comments. This will minimize duplication of work by several committee members. If any questions or problems arise, please contact the Publications chair.
Possible Format for Newsletter
- The logo should be portrayed on the cover along with the name of the publication and the name of the editor. This may vary according to affiliate.
- The purpose statement of the affiliate should be given as well as the affiliate office phone numbers and address.
- A table of contents should be near the beginning of the newsletter.
- An editor’s column should be included followed by letters to the editor.
- It is important to have a president’s message.
- Convention reports including programs and the schedule of affiliate meetings and other activities should be included.
- Legislation updates are also important.
- Affiliate committee reports should be included if the information would be of interest to the members.
- Articles submitted should be included if they would be of interest to members.
- Member focus (articles about individual members) should be included as space permits.
- Information about other conferences of interest to members should be included if space permits.
- Special interest stories, jokes, etc. (appropriate for the audience) should be inserted when space permits.
- A fund-raising letter should be written occasionally.
- The newsletter should also include a list of board members and committee chairs.
- A membership application should always be included.
- The committee needs to look for any appropriate grants available.
- Make a list of possible areas that grants could cover.
- The committee should check magazines, newsletters, and other publications for possible grant offerings.
- Check on the internet for possible grant listings.
- The committee should apply for any grants that could fit in with any of your programs.
- The committee should contact any corporations or foundations to find out what grants they might have available for non-profit organizations.
- The committee should check with libraries to find grant listings, donors, or other sources for grants.
- The historian should save pictures and writings about all affiliate events.
- A scrapbook should be kept for all items saved.
- The historian should keep documentation of all events in chronological order.
- The history book should be updated as appropriate.
- The historian should keep account of where all historical documents are being held.
- The historian should display historical documents at special functions for members to see.
- The historian should send articles to the newsletter from time to time about historical events.
- The historian should find someone to take pictures at significant events to help gather memories.
- The chair should send an article to the newsletter requesting resolutions before the convention in the first two issues of the year.
- The committee must read all resolutions and ideas sent for resolutions.
- After writing or rewriting any resolutions, the chair should present them to the members if they are not withdrawn.
- Some affiliates require reading resolutions a second time at a second session for debate and vote.
- The president and the secretary should receive a copy of the resolutions so they can be sent to the appropriate person and be recorded.
- Give a copy of resolutions to the affiliate office so they can be sent out there if preferred.
Constitution and Bylaw Committee
- Have each committee member read a current copy of the Constitution and bylaws.
- Write an article for the newsletter asking for possible changes in the Constitution or bylaws. This article would have to be placed in the first issue of the year.
- Write another article in the second issue of the year to have any possible Constitutional changes listed in the newsletter at least thirty days ahead of convention (some affiliates have other time requirements).
- Have committee meeting before the program session so possible changes can be presented.
- Read the possible changes again at second session (this may also vary from affiliate to affiliate) for debate and vote.
- Give a copy of all Constitutional and bylaw changes to both the affiliate office and the secretary for record keeping purposes.
- Ask the secretary to send a copy to the publications committee for publication in the upcoming newsletter.
- Give each committee member a list of the awards to be given at the annual convention luncheon or banquet.
- Publicize in the newsletter and other publications as appropriate for nominations for these awards. Include the date nominations are due, criteria for awards, and where nominations should be sent. Ask for the name and address of any deserving person plus a summary of their achievements and your remarks. Ask for them to be sent to the chair.
- If not enough nominations are received, ask board members for more nominations.
- When nominations are received, evaluate the letters and other material to find the appropriate recipient for each award.
- Check to make sure the recipient has not previously received the award.
- Have plaques or certificates ordered in time for presentation to the winners at the annual luncheon or banquet.
- Present the awards at the annual luncheon or banquet.
- Write an article stating the award winners for the newsletter and the “Braille Forum”.
- Give names of winners and awards to office and secretary for record keeping purposes.
- Take pictures of award winners if possible for affiliate history.
- Make necessary arrangements for any fund-raising activities for the affiliate. Coordinate any convention fund-raisers with the convention committee.
- Develop other fund-raising ideas to help the organization raise money. Suggestions may include but not be limited to: barbecues, dinners to celebrate holidays, Tupperware, Stanley, home clothing companies, or other company parties that give discounts to non-profits, candy sales, magazine sales, candles and other decorations (Christmas), t-shirts, and casino nights or cruises.
- Decide when raffles could conveniently take place.
- An annual (or biannual) fund-raising letter should be written. It is best to have this written by the president but the fund-raising committee may help to develop it. Sometimes, an affiliate uses this to get more members as well.
Simplified Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure
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Meetings are no more troublesome than the members that attend them. Parliamentary procedure is a system of rules that allow members to know what they can expect from each other in an orderly, fair, and efficient way. The procedures are based on two universally accepted democratic principles which balance the interests of the individual and of the group. Every member has equal rights and obligations. The officers and members must deal with each other in good faith and with fairness. The whole organization is undermined to the extent that any individual or minority is not treated equally. The majority rules. Assured of fairness for all, and recognizing that unanimity is impossible, each member agrees in advance to accept the will of the majority to facilitate decision making. This is, in effect, an unqualified grant of trust and confidence. All the procedures summarized below are an application of these principles. They allow members to express their opinions, act on their needs, and know what is going on.
- After the president or chair opens the meeting, members wishing to have the floor (ask to speak on any subject or motion) must request to speak. You say, “Mr. or Madame President or Chair, may I have the floor?” The president or chair will respond by allowing you to speak or letting you know when you can speak. The president or chair may list the order of speakers if several have asked to speak at the same time.
- A motion is the formal proposal of a suggestion for consideration of the group. A motion gives the group something to react to and act on so that there can be a final decision. A motion limits discussion to something definite so that everyone knows what is at stake and what the outcome will be.To make a motion, a member says, “I move that ____.” A second is required and indicates that at least two people feel that the proposal merits consideration. If a second is not given, the item is not discussed, simply because it doesn’t have enough support to be considered. To second a motion, a member says, “I second that motion.”
- Amendments are suggested changes to a motion before the body. They must be germane (which means they must have something to do with the motion being discussed). There can even be an amendment to an amendment, but that’s all. Amendments have to be seconded. Once before the group, discussion is limited to the amendment in question. The group votes on the last amendment proposed and works its way back to the main motion. To amend a motion, a member says, “I move to amend the motion by ____.”
- Motions are prioritized chronologically. Motions are passed in order of precedence. In other words, if a motion is being discussed, you can interrupt that discussion to present a new motion. It must either be an amendment to the motion under discussion or a motion concerning the current motion. If it is regarding another matter or would only b possible if the current motion under discussion passes, you have to wait until the discussion is complete and the motion is voted upon.
- Withdraw a Motion when you have made a motion and want to withdraw it, which simply means you have changed your mind. You say, “I withdraw my motion,” and that’s it unless discussion has started on your motion. Then it is the property of the body and can only be withdrawn by a motion to permit withdrawal which requires a second, is neither debatable nor amendable, and requires a majority vote. Of course, if no one objects, a motion may be withdrawn at any time.
- Division of the Question may be called when you want to consider a motion point by point. You say, “I request the motion be divided as follows ____.” If the chairman agrees, debate and voting will be conducted on each point, one at a time. If the request is not granted, you may move to divide the question. The rules applying to main motions govern.
- Division of the Assembly is called when the results of a vote are unclear or you want a definite count taken instead of a voice vote. You say, “I call for a division of the assembly.” You may state if you want a hand count, secret ballot, or roll call vote. If there is a conflict, the chairperson will decide the method of vote.
- End Debate when you want to end debate and put the question being discussed to an immediate vote. You say, “I move we end debate.” The motion requires a second, is not debatable, is not amendable, and requires a 2/3 vote. If there is more than one part of the proposal being discussed, i.e., there are amendments, or other motions to refer to a committee, or to postpone, etc., you should specify whether you are moving for a vote on the item under immediate consideration or on all matters pertaining to that question. If there is no objection, the chairman may end debate on his own or at the suggestion of a member. However, if there is an objection from any member, a motion is required to end debate. In many meetings, the phrase “I would like to call the question” is often used instead of a move to end debate. The difference between calling the question and ending debate is that calling the question is considered a vote of acclimation. In other words, no vote is necessary unless there are objections to ending debate.
- Limit Debate when you want to limit debate to a certain amount of time or to a certain number of additional speakers. You say, “I move we limit debate to ____ [a specified number of speakers on each side or a specific time].” If there is more than one part to the proposal being considered, you should specify whether you want to limit debate to just one item under discussion or to all discussion on the main question. The motion requires a second, is not debatable, and requires a 2/3 vote. (The same special restrictions for the motion to end debate hold for the motion to limit debate.)
- Refer to a Committee when you want to have a smaller group go over what is being discussed before further action. You say, “I move we refer this matter to ____.” The motion requires a second, is debatable and amendable only as to which committee will handle the matter, and requires a majority vote.
- Appeal when you want to reverse a decision or ruling of the chairman. You say, “I appeal the decision of the chair (stating the action or decision that is objected to).” This appeal requires a second. The chairperson may explain his or her reason for decision without leaving the chair. The appeal is debatable, is not amendable, and requires a majority vote to overrule the chair. The appeal must be made immediately after the decision in question. The chair must recognize all appeals.
- When you want to end the meeting, you say, “I move we adjourn.” The motion requires a second, is not debatable, and must be put to an immediate vote. It requires a majority vote for passage. Adjournment ends the meeting. Any unfinished business is then considered old business at the next meeting.
- Recess when you want to suspend the meeting, take a break, or just hold off until a specific time before the next regular meeting. “I move we recess until ____.” The motion requires a second, is debatable only as to the time of the resumption of the meeting, and requires a majority vote. The only acceptable amendment is on the time of the resumption of the meeting.
- An ad hoc committee is a group of people assembled just to work on one specific point. (An emergency anything committee is an example of an ad hoc committee.)
- Dilatory behavior is behavior that is made in a deliberate attempt to delay the body.
- Frivolous behavior is behavior that is just plain silly.
- Quorum is simply the number of members required for a vote. For most board meetings, this requires one more than half of the members to be present for any actions to be taken. However, in conventions, the number varies according to the affiliate’s constitution.
Business may be referred to an existing group, such as executive committee, or to an ad hoc committee, which is a committee especially established for a specific purpose and exists until the matter is resolved; or to the committee of the whole (which is a way of saying that the group can consider the matter informally). Usually a matter is referred to the committee of the whole when there is need to discuss a matter before the introduction of a motion. The same effect can be achieved by moving to consider the matter informally or by moving to table the discussion until another time.
Compiled, written, and edited by: Ardis Bazyn
Member of A.C.B. Membership Committee
Thank you to all of the A.C.B. members who gave valuable input
For Positive Inspiration, contact Bazyn Communications!
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