Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Approximately four years ago, FMCA leaders decided to begin the process of developing a long-range plan and modernizing the association’s governing documents. The first step was to establish a committee of FMCA members who would be charged with bringing forth a plan that would help to direct the association’s future. In August 2001, the Governing Board accepted the FMCA Strategic Plan. This year, the proposed governing documents were completed and were submitted to the Governing Board for their review and concurrence.
During its meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas, the Governing Board agreed to move the proposed governing documents to the approval stage, so that brings us to the next step. First, the Proposed Constitution must be approved by the FMCA family membership. After that, the Proposed Bylaws and the accompanying proposed policies and procedures for the “Member and Volunteer Handbook” must be approved by the Governing Board.
Starting on page 266 of this issue of Family Motor Coaching is the Proposed Constitution and a ballot for your review and submission. FMCA’s Constitution has been called the association’s “mainframe” document. The Bylaws are the means by which the aims of the Constitution are carried out.
During the past four years, FMCA has hired two consultants to assist in the process of updating the documents. First, with the help of Pat Walker Hickman, an association management consultant, the FMCA Long-Range Planning Committee developed the Strategic Plan that will direct the future of the association. Then, with the help of Kathleen Klein, a professional association bylaws consultant, the governing documents were rewritten and streamlined. The counsel of FMCA’s attorney was sought to clarify the content and relationship of FMCA’s Articles of Incorporation, Constitution, and Bylaws.
Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (10th edition) states: “Under the preferred practice of ordinary societies today, the constitution and the bylaws — once usually separate — are now combined in a single instrument, referred to in this book as the bylaws.” FMCA’s Constitution & Bylaws Committee struggled with this idea, and while they understood and agreed with the concept, they realized that there was much emotion and history attached to the Constitution of this wonderful association. The Constitution also is the only governing document that is approved by and gives a voice to the entire membership. The committee decided that, based upon membership surveys they had initiated, the consensus among members seemed to be to retain the Constitution.
At this point, it is important to understand a few concepts involved in this rewriting process. The principal objectives of the rewrite initiative were:
- To ensure that FMCA’s Constitution and Bylaws conform to the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
- To ensure that the Bylaws contain only requirements.
- To remove duties, responsibilities, policies, and procedures from the Bylaws and place them in the policies and procedures within the “Member and Volunteer Handbook.”
- To eliminate redundancy and streamline the verbiage, thus making the Constitution and Bylaws more reader-friendly.
- To align, to the maximum extent possible, the organizational structure of FMCA to that of many other associations in the United States.
- To write both documents as generically as possible to permit the documents to withstand the test of time with minimal need for changes.
If you have already taken a peek at the Proposed Constitution, you have found the final draft of the recommended document.
In the remainder of this commentary, I will try to summarize for you the essence of the changes that have been made to the Constitution, which was last modified in 1983.
In Article I, Paragraph 3, the first area of change was to add and define a Mission in addition to the existing Purpose of FMCA. Basically, this statement also appears in the Proposed Bylaws, because of its importance to both documents.
In Article II, Paragraph 1, the term “classes of membership” was replaced with “categories of membership” to be consistent with the Proposed Bylaws. In Paragraph 2, since the membership application process has been moved out of the Proposed Bylaws, the “Member and Volunteer Handbook” is the reference for the specific form and manner of application for membership. (In several instances, where specific information was previously identified as appearing in the Bylaws or in accordance with the Bylaws and it has been moved to the “Member and Volunteer Handbook,” a reference to the new handbook of policies and procedures has been indicated.) Paragraph 3, Duties of Members, now states only that the member shall acknowledge and act in accordance with the FMCA Member Code of Ethics. In Paragraph 4, the following addition was made: “All individuals owning at least 1/3 interest in a qualifying motor coach have the right to cast one (1) vote per member number on Constitutional matters.”
In Article III, Paragraph 1 B, the word “annually” was removed to conform with the Proposed Bylaws, which will allow chapters to have the option of electing national directors for either one or two years.
Previously, at this point in the Constitution, there was a reference to the annual membership meeting. This paragraph is not needed in the Constitution, since the annual membership meeting is established in the Proposed Bylaws.
In Article IV, Paragraph 1, reference to specific national officers’ titles has been removed. This was done to allow FMCA the flexibility of changing officers’ titles in the future, if desired. It was suggested that the Constitution language be broader and refer to the Bylaws. Paragraph 2 has been modified, removing the concept of “National officers shall hold office for a period of one year. . . . ,” so as to permit a change to multiple-year terms of office, if desired and approved by the Governing Board in future Bylaws amendments. Paragraph 4 was added to clarify that the national officers will serve as the voting members of the FMCA Executive Board. In Paragraph 5 (formerly Paragraph 4), the term “vice presidents” has been replaced with “certain officers” in order to permit a change in the title of these positions in the future, if deemed appropriate.
Previously at this point in the Constitution, reference was made to the Nominating Committee. This paragraph was removed, since the need for a Nominating Committee and its purpose have been placed in the Proposed Bylaws.
In Article V, specific titles and procedures as they relate to records are no longer listed here, as they have been moved to the proposed policies and procedures, which will become part of the “Member and Volunteer Handbook.” The term “Accurate minutes” was changed to “A formal record” to allow for advances in technology. The term “Executive Committee” has been replaced with “Executive Board” to better reflect the role these members have in the association. In Paragraph 2, the words “kept by the national office staff” have been replaced with “properly filed and safely stored by FMCA.” Also, a reference to the “security of FMCA records” has been removed, since it is a procedure, and it has been placed in the proposed policies and procedures.
In Article VI, the reference to the design and display of the FMCA emblem has been removed. The emblem is described in FMCA’s Proposed Bylaws, and the procedure for distributing the emblems is included in the “Member and Volunteer Handbook.”
Article VII of the Proposed Constitution has been added to acknowledge the authorization of area associations.
Surety bonding, which probably was intended to be fidelity bonding in its original meaning, has been removed from the Constitution, since it is covered in FMCA’s insurance documents. FMCA insures (bonds) any employee or volunteer member who handles money in the performance of their position in the association. This is a standard business practice today.
Indemnification has been updated and moved to the Proposed Bylaws. This information is frequently included in an association’s Bylaws.
In Article X, Paragraph 1 A, “20 voting memberships” was added. This will help to assure that amendments are the product of a consensus of members and not just the idea of one individual. It is hoped that this will reduce the number of amendments, or those that might not be in the best interest of FMCA and its members. In Paragraph 2, another sentence was added to the Proposed Constitution to emphasize the responsibility of the Executive Board to review, discuss, and comment on proposed Constitutional amendments.
Procedures for the submission of Constitutional amendments to the membership have been removed from the Constitution and placed in the proposed policies and procedures. The current term “members” has been replaced with “memberships” to better clarify the voting process.
I realize that these details can be somewhat confusing. I hope that this explanation helps you to understand the changes that have been made to eliminate redundancy and streamline the verbiage of the Constitution, as well as to facilitate changes that need to be made for the association’s betterment and efficiency.
I, along with the Governing Board members, solicit your consideration and approval of this document.