18. August 22, 2012

August 22 Call

On the call: Elizabeth Youker, Mark Churchill, Elisabeth Babcock, Stanford Thompson, Anna Ancheta, Louise Ghandi, Margaret Martin, Steven Liu

Beth asked when Venezuela conversations would come to light in reference to us using the name El Sistema USA. Stan said it would be sent in the next day so that the working group can discuss on the August 29th call.

Beth – goals for today was to provide feedback to questions about the by-laws that the working . We want to talk next about the ratification and implementation plan. We want insights on feedback folks have on these plans. We want to finalize those plans within this and the next call. We will table the issue about the name for now and discuss it this week.

Beth – Brought up the question from the working group about the number of votes programs would have to the leadership group. The leadership group decided 3 votes was good enough.

Beth – Brought up the question about leaders having staggering terms and the leadership group decided that the board could figure it out later and to leave things the way they are.

Louise Ghandi brought up questions that Dalouge brought up in his August 22nd e-mail to the entire working group:

Q1 – Are dues expected to be paid at the time a membership application is submitted prior to the vote to establish the corporate entity? This strikes me as an exclusive choice. I was under the impression all El Sistema inspired programs would be invited to vote on establishment of the new entity prior to formal membership being established. What is the position of the group if less than 50% of El Sistema inspired programs apply or participate in voting?

Answer from Beth: Yes, dues are typically expected in membership organizations at the time the member registers or renews as a member. This does not have to be the case, but is typically one of the things that constitutes being a so-called “member in good standing.” In the case of the Alliance, a provision has been made for any party who wishes and would otherwise qualify to be a member being able to apply for a dues waiver, if they are absolutely unable to pay the dues.  This waiver provision was created in order to be sure that dues served as no serious obstacle to membership and to make the Alliance as inclusive as possible.

Once members have applied and been registered, the eligible registered members (in this case Active Programs) will be the ones permitted to vote to ratify the by-laws.  The reason for this is because the Alliance will be a membership organization that exists to do the will of the members, therefore only the members themselves can determine whether or not the by-laws as written are adequate to bind the membership together.  If the members fail to ratify the by-laws, it will be for the members to amend them until they can be ratified as the acceptable rules under which the membership agrees to operate.  It is entirely acceptable to have a membership organization incorporated that only includes a subset of possible organizations that might be permitted to qualify as members.  The reason for this is because the Alliance is not presenting itself as an organization representing the entire field, but instead as an organization representing the thinking and will of its members.

Therefore, incorporating a membership organization designed primarily to bring together members to work on shared goals (such as the Alliance) is clearly very different than incorporating a membership organization, such as a union, which is designed to represent all the workers in a given field (whether they become members of the union or not).  When the organization is incorporated to legally represent a class, it must adhere to higher standards on the percentage of members out of a field who have decided to join, before it can be legally established.  An Alliance of members who have agreed to come together to share resources, ideas, and action, need not meet such stringent tests.

Margaret Martin expressed her concern about her organization, and potentially others, being able to pay the full amount of the recommended dues. The working group felt that it may be appropriate to change the name from recommended dues to aspirational dues and encourage everyone to pay the minimum dues if possible.

Q2 – The dues structure doesn’t specify if the program budget for calculating member dues is specifically for the El Sistema inspired program if it is under the umbrella of a larger organization.

Margaret Martin mentioned that the answer was spelled out in the ratification plan:
(footnote #7) “For the purposes of calculating dues, direct program expenses will include all direct operating expenses including staff, fringe, and all other direct operating expenses (space, materials, travel, etc…) and will not include in-kind gifts/expenditures or general and administrative (G & A) overhead. G & A will be included at a standard 25% as calculated in the dues formula.”

Q3 – The Recommended Annual Membership Fees strike me as quite high. These numbers are well over 1% of their corresponding program budgets.

Mark Churchill clarified that these numbers were devised comparing other comparable associations and fee structures. The Working Group concluded that it would be up to each program to determine what worth they set their membership dues for the first year(s).

Dalogue’s Implementation Plan comments

  • I don’t see an expected timeline of benchmark goals for the new Alliance. It would be valuable to know what success is expected to look like in the first year of operations.
  • The list of Potential Initial Operating Activities is very modest for such a robust organization. The list of Potential Future Operating Activities is so comprehensive that no item or items stand out as priorities. It is hard to discern what the work of the Alliance will and should be once it is established.

The Working Group concluded that we could make adjustments to the implementation plans and clarify timelines and goals in the near future.

The phone conference concluded with Beth’s question seeking any suggestions on how we could improve this work, keep it inclusive, and moving forward. No members of the Working Group had any suggestions and thanked Beth and Stan for their hard work.

The call concluded at 12:54pm EST

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