Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
One of the greatest benefits of membership in the Family Motor Coach Association is the opportunity to join a chapter. Chapters truly offer the most opportunities for fun and fellowship. For various reasons, some FMCA members do not avail themselves of chapter membership. I feel it is important that everyone knows about chapters and the support available to them from the FMCA national office.
This month I would like to spotlight the Chapter Services Department. I was pleased with the positive comments I received in response to my February 2003 column, which addressed the most frequently asked questions received by the Membership Services Department. I thought I would use that format again when discussing the Chapter Services Department, since many of you probably have had the same questions.
Chapter Services has a very broad area of responsibility. The staff in this department provide support to members of the Governing Board, the Executive Board, and all national committees, in addition to assisting area associations and chapters. In this column I would like to highlight the services that the department performs specifically for chapters.
The department serves as a resource for members who are interested in joining chapters and also supports chapters that are interested in attracting new members. Many times, new chapters are born because of the requests this department receives from FMCA members and the support that it provides.
The Chapter Services Department has compiled the following list of frequently asked questions and the answers. I hope this will help you to understand the services offered. If you have a question about a topic that is not included in this article, I encourage you to call the Chapter Services Department at the FMCA national office: (800) 543-3622.
How do I find a chapter in my area, or a chapter whose members share certain interests, such as golf?
You can locate a chapter with a particular special interest by looking in the Chapter Directory. The directory is a compilation of approximately 450 chapters with the names of their officers, their special interest, and a personal contact. It appears in the January and August issues of Family Motor Coaching magazine and also is listed on FMCA’s Web site, FMCA.com. You also can contact the Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622 and they will help you to find a chapter with a common interest, such as golf, or in an area close to you.
How can I form a chapter, since there isn’t one available within a reasonable proximity to my area?
A chapter formation kit is available to assist you. The kit can be obtained from the national office, at area rallies, or at FMCA conventions. Your area vice president can request a kit for you, or you can call the Chapter Services Department at the FMCA national office. Chapter Services staff also will process a mailing to help you gauge interest in a new chapter in your area. Non-chapter members can be sorted according to coach brands, zip codes, or states. You must have 20 family members in your group to start a chapter.
What happens after we send in our request for a chapter charter?
The staff verifies that the group has the required number of members, and that the individuals are FMCA members. The officers are checked for eligibility, and the information is submitted to the Executive Board for approval. Please allow four weeks for processing.
How do we recruit new members for our chapter?
The national office will process one mailing per year for each chapter for the purpose of increasing its membership. This mailing also is used to encourage non-chapter members to join chapters. The national office will assume up to $125 per year for postage for this purpose.
How do we order chapter attachment plates for our chapter officers, similar to those of the national directors?
Chapters wishing to purchase chapter officer attachment plates may contact the Chapter Services Department at the national office to request an order form. This form includes a complete list of available attachment plates and the associated prices. Chapter members also may order attachment plates that identify the name of their chapter.
How do I obtain signs and prizes for a chapter rally?
Each chapter is entitled to one sign package per year, which consists of four Coroplast boards, four directional arrows, and four FMCA logos. The national office also annually supplies each chapter a package of prizes to be given out at chapter rallies. The items in this package include a multipurpose lantern; a wind chime; two stadium cushions; a Koozie 12-pack cooler; a copper 1-liter thermos; two copper beverage mugs; two Koozie can holders; and a fleece blanket “” all of which are emblazoned with the FMCA logo. Two copies of the “FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide” also are included. The nine items in the package have a total value of $147. Additional prize packages can be purchased by chapters.
What is the role of the chapter’s national director?
One of the main duties of the national director is to keep his or her chapter informed about activities pertaining to the national organization and to the areas, as well as keeping the national office apprised of the chapter’s activities. Another important duty of the national director is to serve as a member of the Governing Board, which involves attending and voting at Governing Board meetings.
When and how do we vote on our national officers, including the area vice presidents?
The four national officers at large “” the president, senior vice president, secretary, and treasurer “” are elected by the Governing Board at the annual Governing Board meeting. It takes a majority of all votes cast to elect these national officers. Area vice presidents are elected by the national directors within their respective area by mail ballot. The ballot usually is mailed near the end of April or the beginning of May with a return date 30 days later, and a tabulation period of 10 days after that. The ballots are returned to an accounting firm where they are tabulated. The national secretary is notified of the voting results and sends a notice of these results to the Governing Board. It takes a plurality of all votes cast within the area to elect the area vice presidents.
How do we advertise chapter rallies?
The “Association Calendar” is published in each issue of Family Motor Coaching and online at FMCA.com/calendar. It encompasses four months of dates and information about chapter rallies. If your chapter would like to announce an upcoming get-together, fill out the form that accompanies the calendar (found on the first page of the listing) and submit it to the Chapter Services Department. The form also is available at FMCA.com. Please note that all rallies listed in the “Association Calendar” are considered open rallies, which means that all FMCA members are welcome to attend. If a rally requires reservations, it should be noted as such.
Is our chapter covered by insurance?
FMCA’s insurance policy provides coverage for bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage alleged to have arisen out of an occurrence, or an accident, by an insured. The insureds are FMCA, Family Motor Coaching Inc., areas, associations, chapters, members, employees, and volunteers while acting on behalf of FMCA. This insurance is applicable to the United States and Canada. There is no insurance coverage for Mexico.
What do we do after we have a chapter officer election?
Any time your chapter has a change of officers, whether by way of election or resignation, etc., the chapter secretary should notify the FMCA Chapter Services Department in writing within 30 days.
Why didn’t the Chapter Directory in Family Motor Coaching magazine have our new officers listed?
The complete Chapter Directory is printed in the January and August issues of Family Motor Coaching. New officer information must be received in the national office by November 1 to be included in the January issue and by June 1 for the August issue. Chapter changes are printed in the March, June, and November issues and also need to be received at the national office two months prior to the publication date.
Our chapter just updated our bylaws. Do we need to send them to anyone?
Send all updated chapter bylaws to the Chapter Services Department at the national office. Once received, they will be forwarded to the Constitution & Bylaws Committee for their review and your respective area vice president for his or her information. The purpose of this is to assure their conformance with FMCA’s national bylaws. A response should come within 60 days.
Who should I contact if I have a concern or suggestion after attending an area rally?
A message should be left in the respective area vice president’s voice mailbox. You can leave a message by calling (800) 544-7062 and using his or her voice mailbox number, which is listed on the first page of the “President’s Message” column in each issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine. You also may write to the respective area vice president in care of the FMCA national office.
How many chapters am I allowed to belong to?
You may belong to as many chapters as you want, but you can be a chapter officer in only one chapter at a time. However, you can hold up to two offices within that chapter.
If I have a suggestion for one of the FMCA committees, who do I send it to?
Please send suggestions for any of the committees to the Chapter Services Department. Your suggestions and comments will be forwarded to the chairmen of the committees to which they pertain.
How do we find out about area rallies?
Dates and locations for area rallies are listed in each issue of FMC magazine in the “Association Calendar” and also can be found online at FMCA.com/areas. You can register for some of these events on the Web site or by contacting the Chapter Services Department.
What does the word “Passport” mean on the area rally registration forms?
A Passport registration is for a registrant who will not stay overnight on the rally grounds. This registrant will drive in and out every day, but is permitted to attend all the rally events.
How can I park with my friends at an area rally?
You can park with your friends at an area rally if you arrive together and have the same coach parking credentials.
Why did I receive general rally parking credentials when I am a volunteer?
The FMCA national office does not coordinate the volunteers for area rallies; therefore, the national office sends out general credentials and the area gives volunteer credentials to the volunteers upon their arrival at the grounds.
Can I get a schedule of events for the rally when I register?
The schedule of events for an area rally usually isn’t finalized until just prior to the rally, so it is not available in advance. When you arrive at the rally, you will receive a program that contains an events schedule.