Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
At the July Governing Board meeting held during FMCA’s 82nd International Convention in Bowling Green, Ohio, some dynamic changes to the structure and opportunities of chapters were made.
For one, the Bylaws have been changed so that all chapters will be required to have only one business meeting per year, instead of two. The meeting must be duly announced to the membership, and a quorum must be present for it to qualify.
The other change that was made was to allow a new type of chapter, known as an associate chapter. In the past, to form a chapter, one needed to find a minimum of 20 FMCA member families who were interested in doing so. Once started, a chapter needed at least 15 active FMCA memberships to continue its recognition as a chapter. A chapter has been required to have at least six chapter officers: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, national director, and alternate national director. The national director serves as the chapter’s representative on the FMCA Governing Board. This is the group of members that gather each year to vote on important issues and elect national officers.
Another type of chapter structure that was in place for many years, but rarely used, was the affiliate chapter. An affiliate chapter was a chapter of FMCA members located outside of the United States and Canada. It required the same number of members to form and maintain its relationship with FMCA. However, it did not have Governing Board representation.
Nothing has really changed with what I will call a “regular” chapter, for sake of clarity. It still requires the same 20 FMCA memberships to form, 15 memberships to continue, six chapter officers, and Governing Board representation. However, the Governing Board has now authorized the opportunity to establish “associate chapters.”
An associate chapter will need only 10 FMCA member families to form. Once started, the associate chapter can also grow to various sizes. An associate chapter has to maintain seven active FMCA memberships to continue recognition and qualification as a chapter. An associate chapter will be required to have four chapter officers: president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. It will not have a voice on the Governing Board or in the governance of FMCA, however, because it will not have a national director or alternate.
Other than those differences, all will pretty much be the same. Associate chapters will benefit by having the same insurance coverage FMCA affords regular chapters. Please note that chapters formed outside of the United States and Canada still will not be covered by FMCA’s liability insurance.
Associate chapters can be formed by FMCA members for the same social and sharing purposes as regular chapters, or a regular chapter can become an associate chapter by just indicating a desire to modify its bylaws so as to reflect the chapter’s wishes. A copy of the revised chapter bylaws and the minutes of the meeting wherein this was voted on would need to be submitted with the request to change the chapter’s status. Changing a chapter’s status from one type of chapter to another can be done only once a year when the chapter’s annual certification is submitted.
Why the creation of associate chapters? There are many aspects that make this new chapter opportunity a desirable alternative to the regular chapter.
First, FMCA is getting older. Some of the older chapters (meaning the length of time that the chapter has been around) are having trouble maintaining the appropriate number of FMCA members required to be annually certified. While their membership numbers have decreased, these smaller groups still desire the affiliation and protection that FMCA provides for chapters. And they certainly are not ready to quit rallying with the longtime friends they have made through FMCA chapter membership.
Second, some have discovered it is difficult to find 20 member families to form a new chapter; usually, members of existing chapters are asked to join in order for the chapter to get started. With the smaller requirement, associate chapters can be formed with as few as 10 families. Then, as they grow and increase in number, they can consider the option of becoming a regular chapter with the governance structure and opportunity for representation.
Third, some existing regular chapters are not interested in being a part of the governance of FMCA and struggle to find members who can or will travel to attend the Governing Board meetings. They will now have the opportunity to rally and enjoy a social network and not be required to ask people to serve as national directors or alternates.
Currently, several FMCA chapters are in an inactive status because of their inability to meet the membership count requirements or have the required number of chapter officers. It is hoped that this change will permit them to become associate chapters and get back to having social functions “” the reason they originally were formed. Other chapters may have been waiting for this change since they are not interested in the governance of FMCA and just want to be able to rally and enjoy the lifestyle with like motorhome owners.
Whatever reason you may have for forming an associate chapter, or changing your club’s status to an associate chapter, you now have that option.
The number of chapters that are part of FMCA (more than 500) is not really important. What is important is the number of members who belong to chapters. Currently, only one-third of FMCA members are in a chapter. While many members are in multiple chapters, only a third of FMCA members overall participate in this truly enjoyable benefit of FMCA membership.
Should you be interested in joining a chapter, I encourage you to go to FMCA.com, Chapters/Areas, and perform a chapter search. Many chapters are now providing specific information online about their chapter, their activities, and where they rally. A simple click will notify the chapters that you are interested in additional information. You also can call the Chapter Services Department at the national office (513-474-3622 or 800-543-3622), and they will assist you in finding chapters you might be interested in. I also encourage non-chapter members to check out the Association Calendar in Family Motor Coaching magazine or online at FMCA.com to find a chapter rally to attend. Visit several chapters. Try a few out and when you find one that fits, join.
Some of you might be asking, what is a chapter? Great question. I encourage you to talk with fellow members about the fun and fellowship you can experience as a member of an FMCA chapter. And for more information about “What Is A Chapter?”, check out my February 2008 Executive Director’s Commentary column, available at FMCA.com (select FMC Magazine; Columns; Commentary). If you cannot go online, call the national office and we would be happy to mail you a copy.