By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
This month’s magazine contains a report about FMCA’s 80th International Convention, which took place July 14 through 17 in St. Paul, Minnesota (“Minnesota Memories”). Based on reports I received from the FMCA members I talked with at the convention, the event was an overwhelming success.
The facilities of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds were excellent and brought to mind a small-town atmosphere, with tree-lined streets and wide sidewalks, carved wooden statues and ornamental gardens. This small town that took shape with FMCA’s arrival happened to be filled with more than 3,000 motorhomes, and not one was in peril of violating a city ordinance! The people in St. Paul really extended the hand of friendship and welcome and went all out to make our stay the best possible. The local area also provided our members with many opportunities for sight-seeing before and after the convention.
FMCA’s Governing Board meeting was conducted before the start of the convention. To ensure all Governing Board members understood their roles during the meeting, a training session was held Sunday morning and was well attended.
After the training session, I arranged for FMCA parliamentarian Joy Myers to present a seminar titled “Chicken Soup for Meetings.” Joy covered the basics on the proper procedures in conducting a meeting and how to make motions. She informed the group that the FMCA president and chair of the Governing Board meeting (in this case, me) is not a queen who can dictate but must run the meeting in a democratic manner. Several members volunteered to role-play and do a short skit where we all had a little fun and applied the lessons on making motions. I heard many good comments about the seminar and hope we can offer it again in the future.
When the Governing Board meeting began on Monday morning, I was not sure how things would go. The 2009 budget was presented with a deficit of $508,442, and a dues increase was proposed. FMCA treasurer Doug Key described FMCA’s operations through June 2008 and the decrease in advertising income, convention revenue, and dues income. He also covered the status of the RV industry. He explained the procedures for the development of the 2009 budget and the philosophy of the Executive Board. He then presented the 2009 budget.
I had called a special meeting of the Executive Board an hour before the Governing Board meeting to add a proviso to the motion for the dues increase. The proviso allowed that if the budget was balanced during the Governing Board meeting, the motion for a dues increase would be nullified. The Governing Board accepted the challenge to adjust various expense line items of the budget to bring the budget into balance.
The adjustments included $224,200 for reductions of staff salaries and benefits as a result of voluntary staff reductions (positions that will not be filled) that occurred after the 2009 budget had been prepared; a $143,644 reduction in new initiatives for recruiting and retention that the Governing Board felt were good ideas but not necessarily needed in 2009; a $25,000 reduction in Executive Board travel; a $24,000 reduction in area vice president travel; a $30,000 reduction in staff travel to support area rallies; and a $62,000 reduction in entertainment for the two international conventions in 2009. That brought the budget into balance.
The Governing Board approved six amendments to our Bylaws. These related to defining ownership of a motorhome to include a lease interest; ensuring a surviving spouse or partner retains membership; providing the authority for electing a chapter temporary delegate for the Governing Board meeting; stating that a chapter voting member of the Governing Board can represent only one chapter; clarifying the requirements to call a special meeting of the Governing Board; and clarifying requirements for inactive chapters to return to accredited status.
There were 15 amendments to the Policies and Procedures that required Governing Board approval. These included clarification on the President’s Council’s responsibilities (involving two separate policies and procedures); outstanding service criteria for life membership; budget resolution; audits and reports; expense reimbursement; investment policy; Governing Board voting procedures; reimbursement of travel costs; member staff reimbursement; insurance coverage for chapter activities; temporary delegates (included in two different policies and procedures); Finance Committee’s responsibilities; and Nominating Committee procedures. The changes to these Policies and Procedures can be found on FMCA’s Web site under Governance; the effective dates are highlighted in red to help pinpoint them. If you need a copy of one or two of these procedures and you do not have access to the Web site, please call the Chapter Services Department at the national office, (800)-543-3622, and they will be glad to assist you.
My goals in running the Governing Board meeting were to keep the business moving, to allow all members the opportunity to speak, and to have fun while doing it. Traditionally these meetings last more than eight hours and generally are not the highlight of the convention. I am very proud of the actions of this Governing Board in terms of the knowledge the delegates showed, the respect they had for each other, their willingness to get the business completed, and their ability to laugh.
Joy Myers had advised me that if I needed to ask her a question during the proceedings, the proper way to do so was to state, “If no one objects, the assembly is to stand at ease while I consult with the parliamentarian.” During the proceedings when an amendment to an amendment to the motion was proposed, I needed clarification from Joy, so I told the Governing Board to “stand at ease.” Most members know about my military background, so the statement brought on a laugh. Some members were even expecting me to call them to attention and were ready to salute if I did so. We finished the meeting at 5:15 p.m., and all involved should have felt good about what was accomplished.
At the February 2008 convention in Pomona, I asked members of the Executive Board to assist in various ways, and this was very successful. I continued this practice during the St. Paul convention and further expanded their responsibilities to get a maximum interaction between them and convention attendees and commercial members. So many things are happening during the parking days and the convention itself that it is impossible for me or for Jerry Yeatts, director of conventions and commercial services, to oversee and head off any potential problems. The Executive Board members did an excellent job in assisting where needed. They also were asked to use their golf carts to help handicapped and other members get back to their coaches after entertainment, and to provide rides at other times as they moved about the convention grounds. Both actions paid big dividends for us, and we got some excellent feedback on entertainment and the convention in general.
During this convention, I held two focus group sessions with younger baby boomers. As was the case with the Pomona focus group, participants were willing to share their ideas and thoughts about FMCA and how we can make this an even better association that will appeal to our current membership and also to boomers and others just entering the lifestyle. Their thoughts and ideas will be shared with the appropriate national committees for their review and action.
One idea that has come up at each of the focus groups is the possibility of having our summer international conventions over the weekend. Many of these members still work and only have a few days or weeks of vacation each year. If the conventions were held over the weekend, FMCA could possibly see a higher attendance. We must remember that not everyone is retired and can travel whenever he or she pleases. And with the current price of fuel, we all are looking at making attendance at the convention only part of a trip, and not the sole purpose of the trip.
Until next month, may all your travels be safe and trouble-free.
Help Us Update Our Records
Please make sure to keep the FMCA national office informed when any of the information in your records changes. You can make changes to your membership records at any time at FMCA.com, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Changes also may be submitted by calling the Member Services Department at (800) 543-3622 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Changes to your membership record can include your phone number, e-mail address, postal address, and the brand of motorhome you own. We especially urge you to provide your e-mail address if it is not on file with FMCA. This helps us to contact you quickly in case important issues arise. This information is only for FMCA business purposes.
If you are listed in the January directory issue’s “Stoppin’ Spots” section, which includes the Stop Over Spot, Come Visit, Mechanic’s Helper, or Pinch Hit Driver categories, please verify that your information is up-to-date. This list begins on page 275 of the January 2008 issue and also is online at FMCA.com (click on “Directory”). If you would like to volunteer and be included in any of the “Stoppin’ Spots” categories, please contact the FMCA Member Services Department. The deadline for making changes for the 2009 directory is October 31, 2008.