By Judy Czarsty, F79148
Have you ever read the newspaper and looked at what your local town leaders were doing and said to yourself, “Boy, are they missing the boat! They should . . . .” Well, some of you probably say the same thing about FMCA. This month I hope to show you how you can put into action your thoughts about what FMCA could do.
FMCA is a member-owned and member-governed association whose operations are run by paid staff. S tarting with the March issue, you began to receive a glimpse of the many faces behind the scenes at the FMCA national office via the “Employee Spotlight” column. This month I would like to spend some time telling you about our committee system, in hopes that it not only will educate you about FMCA but might ignite a spark of enthusiasm that prompts some of you to say, “I can help FMCA.”
FMCA has within its ranks more than 180,000 individuals who have some type of expertise. It might be in marketing, finances, the legal field, program development, information technology, small business, banking, agronomy, developing and executing a household budget, putting on events for the church or other organizations, and on and on and on.
Have you ever thought that with just a minimal amount of time, you could put your expertise to work for FMCA? I’m not talking about another full-time or even part-time job. I am talking about contributing your ideas and experience to help FMCA move forward via a commitment that, in most instances, involves reviewing materials and sharing ideas via conference calls throughout the year.
FMCA has an executive director and staff who are paid to implement the ideas that come out of committees. But, the ideas are what are hard. The fount of knowledge and expertise at FMCA’s disposal goes beyond the 15 Executive Board members and a handful of committee members who have served FMCA well over time. New blood needs to be infused to keep the organization humming and in the race to achieve another 50 years of existence.
To start out, let’s look at the Finance Committee. Members of this committee review the performance of FMCA’s investments and FMCA’s investment strategy, and may suggest changes to that strategy. They also recommend investment firms, and look for ways to find more income for FMCA. Of course, this committee reviews the executive director’s annual budget, makes adjustments, and submits a revised budget to the Executive Board for approval. The budget then proceeds to the Governing Board for adoption. Members of this committee have varied backgrounds, such as working for brokerage firms, budgeting, banking, directorships on boards of other corporations or nonprofits such as hospitals and churches, and, of course, accounting. Their experience can be in the federal or private sector, civilian or military. These members like to deal with finances and, of course, they review FMCA’s performance compared to budget each month. The committee reports to the Governing Board. Your commitment would include a couple of one-to-two-day trips to Cincinnati (at FMCA expense), in addition to monthly review of financial progress.
The Membership/Member Services Committee develops and solicits ideas, recommendations, and other assistance and innovations that will foster growth in membership and reawaken interest among currently inactive members. Members on this committee are always on the lookout for new and cost-effective benefits to enhance belonging to FMCA. You may find people from all walks of life on this committee, but, most importantly, you will find people with a strong interest in finding enhanced benefits. The committee may meet in Cincinnati, as well as by conference call, and may hold workshops at the biannual Family Reunions (conventions).
People who volunteer for the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee want to help keep FMCA members informed of proposals that could infringe on their rights as recreation vehicle users. This committee also played an instrumental role in obtaining federal approval regarding signage that alerts the public to exits with RV-friendly services. This committee works by conference call and e-mail throughout the year.
For those of you who are “detail” people, you might have an interest in the Constitution and Bylaws Committee or the Policy and Procedure Committee. These two committees report to the Governing Board. Both committees deal with the governance of FMCA, either through reviewing or revising FMCA’s Bylaws, reviewing chapter bylaws, or developing procedures to carry out the policies of the Governing Board or the Executive Board. They are involved in interpreting the FMCA Bylaws when needed, or Roberts Rules of Order as it would apply to FMCA. Your commitment, depending on the committee, could include periodic review of chapter bylaws, conference calls, working with e-mailed documents, and perhaps a couple of one-to-two-day trips to Cincinnati (at FMCA expense).
If you like to delve into insurance coverage and evaluate ways to reduce the risk of loss or injury, then the Risk Management Committee is for you. This committee serves as consultants to FMCA staff and the Executive Board on matters related to insurance and risk management. They review and analyze FMCA’s potential risk to loss arising from damage to property, review all insurance policies, consult and guide FMCA’s staff in developing insurance programs to protect FMCA, revise FMCA’s Risk Management Guide, and advise on the selection of FMCA’s insurance broker(s). The commitment includes a couple of conference calls after reviewing various documents related to FMCA’s insurance and risk management.
Totally different from these last three detail-oriented committees is the Marketing Strategy Committee. Members of this committee advise the Executive Board and FMCA staff on ways to better market FMCA in order to attract new members. These are what I call “creative” people who can think outside the box. They come from various walks of life but must be people of vision who are able to see possibilities when others see no solutions. These are very optimistic individuals who seek positive ways to portray FMCA and make membership in our association more attractive.
The Long Range and Development Committee members are people who think strategically and are comfortable charting a way to move forward for two, five, 10, and perhaps even 20 years in the future. This committee reviews FMCA’s Strategic Plan, assesses progress, and determines whether modifications are needed. They continually look at ways to streamline FMCA to make it viable for today and the future. They assess our governance structure and whether it is best serving the needs of the association. These members play a very important role in the future of FMCA.
Youth Advisory Committee members are interested in keeping the “family” in FMCA. They work with FMCA staff to plan the activities for our youth at the summer convention. The committee selects and supervises adults who help with registration and running of the program during the event. FMCA relies on this committee to oversee the youth activities at the convention. The committee also supervises the election of the Teen-Age Travelers (TATS) officers.
The last two groups I’d like to talk about are associated with our Family Motor Coaching magazine. The first, the Magazine Panel, has not been designated as a committee but consists of a large group of people serving FMCA. Magazine Panel members have varied backgrounds, including those who have worked in the printing and publishing industries, but have a definite interest in Family Motor Coaching. They read the magazine each month and give the magazine staff input on what they liked, the effectiveness of a particular story, potential new stories, etc. These people are the critical eye or the cold reader for our magazine, and their input is invaluable in helping to shape better and better issues of the magazine. The panel’s work is primarily by e-mail and a gathering at the biannual Family Reunions (conventions).
The final committee is the Technical Advisory Committee. This is exactly what it sounds like. Members who serve on this committee have a technical background, whether it is the electrical field, engineering, air-conditioning, engines, tires, or whatever there may be that involves the technical side of motorhoming. Committee members review all technical material for accuracy and relevance prior to its publication in the magazine. Some of them also serve as member resources for readers who write in to the magazine for advice and help. The commitment is sporadic, and all work is done by e-mail, with an occasional phone call.
Currently, we are looking for committee members to serve from approximately late August or mid-September 2011 until a similar time frame in 2012. The source of applications will come from the national area vice presidents and the readers of this column. This is the first time in recent history anyway that FMCA has gone out to the general membership seeking candidates for committee service.
I hope I have sparked your interest. It is your time to tell us how to do things better or to help us develop a better FMCA mousetrap. We would like to know about your interests and to consider you for service on one of FMCA’s committees.
Interested? E-mail or call FMCA’s executive director, Brad Koshland (email@example.com; 800-543-3622) or any national area vice president and tell him you are interested in being considered a candidate for the “xyz” committee. The area vice presidents’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses are listed in this magazine in a box titled “Executive Board” (see page 8). You can talk with them about the committee and the time commitment, and send them a short paragraph or two explaining your experience that you feel qualifies you for committee membership.
ACT NOW! July 24, 2011, is the deadline for applications for FMCA committees.