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Activity rejected by director for personal reasons

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Guest Eric

I belong to a non-profit volunteer organization that has an annual event for its members. Additionally I am part of a group of people that are responsible for an activity that takes place at the annual event. The activity is fairly expensive and labor intensive, but we are very passionate about it and have a lot of supporters that volunteer hundreds of hours and donate thousands of dollars so that there is zero financial cost to the organization in addition to the hundreds of volunteer hours that we are providing. We have gotten tons of feedback from a lot of members that this is one of the best things at the event. The entire purpose is to benefit the members. We would not work on this if we didn't feel that that it was a significant positive impact to the members and to the event. However, this year, we have an event director that doesn't personally like what we are working on. I tried to explain to the director that the important thing is whether or not the members want the activity, not whether or not the director personally likes it, but the director disagreed. It appears to be a matter of an extremely opinionated director discriminating against certain types of (paying) members that like certain types of activities because they don't fit with the director's personal taste. I have never heard of anyone else having this bizarre opinion. As far as I can tell, the opinion is mostly isolated to this particular person who happens to be director this year.

I don't think I will be able to win this battle, especially since we've already been significantly delayed by this, however, we have an annual board meeting that includes members. I am considering taking that opportunity to make some sort of motion in protest, but I'm not sure what my options are. I have seen some motions rejected in the past on technicalities. I was thinking of making a motion to add a mission statement saying something to the effect of having a goal to be inclusive to all types of members. Is this something that is doable? Or do you guys have any other suggestions?

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Guest Eric

Yes. Planning the event is the job description for the event director, although usually the event director doesn't get involved in this part of the event. In the past the board has approved it directly, but this time the event director is more opinionated and I get the impression that the board doesn't really want to piss of the director by vetoing the decision.

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Whose decision is it whether to have the event?  The organization's or the executive director's?  It seems to me, unless I'm missing something, that the organization, either by rule, motion or custom, wants to have the event but the director is trying to stand in the way of it.  It is usually the executive director's job to carry out the policies and wishes of the organization, not to interfere with them or to decide what the organization's policies shall be.

But, without knowing more details, we are just speculating and speaking of what we think is the norm.

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13 minutes ago, jstackpo said:

Does the director want to keep his (paid) job?

How do we know it's a paid job? Unless I missed it somehow, the OP doesn't say that it is. "Event Director" may just be the title for one of the board positions, or some other appointed position similar to a committee chair.

Either way, however, it seems to me that if the board has a backbone, they can order the director to plan the event (if it is not too late, as the OP suggests it nmay be). Then if the director still refuses, he can be subjected to disciplinary action. The real problem seems to be the board's reluctance "to piss of the director."

[Edited to correct a typo.]

Edited by Weldon Merritt

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6 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

How do we know it's a paid job?

We don't, of course -- I neglected to put a "?" inside the parentheses.

In the director's (possible) defense, Boards are supposed to exercise "fiscal responsibility" (or words to that effect).  Perhaps he/she knows something about the event that the other folks missed.

Judging from the first posting, however, that seems a bit unlikely.  So who is in charge?

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Guest Eric

The event director is an appointed volunteer position for planning the annual event. The event director changes every year. It's not the same as the executive director. It's generally frowned upon for the board to interfere with the event director's decisions, however, they certainly could. I don't want to force this issue on the board b/c it could impact their relationship with the event director and ultimately negatively impact the event. My plan at this point is to politely protest by introducing some sort of motion at the annual member meeting.

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This is a question about the delegation of decision-making to the ED (event director), which in turn depends on the motion to establish the position, the motion to hold the event, the hierarchy of staff and volunteers, and any relevant organization rules.  I don't think it's one we can give a general answer to on this forum, except to say that, if the rules in RONR apply, and if the board has the authority to manage the affairs of the organization (either from the bylaws or from an incorporation statute), then the board can amend its past motions and/or adopt new ones to have its wishes carried out.  Whether it wants to or not is a political question.

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Guest Eric

Is there anything that would prevent me from being able to introduce a motion in the annual member meeting to change the mission statement of the organization?

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Probably not, however I'll bet (sight unseen) that your "Mission Statement" is in your bylaws, or very closely connected to them.  So to change the statement, you would probably have to propose an amendment to the bylaws.  Whether you have time to do that (check the bylaws for the "change rules" you would have to follow) is your next research project!

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What is the authority for holding this "annual event"?  Is it in your rules or an adopted motion somewhere?  Is it just custom?  How did it get started? How long has it been going on?   How is it that the event is even held?   It still seems to me that unless your rules or some adopted motion grants this event director unusual authority, his job is to carry out the wishes of the organization, not to direct what the organization will do.

Edited by Richard Brown

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Guest Eric

The annual event is part of the bylaws and was always part of the organization. The organization mission statement is also mentioned in the bylaws. However, we do not have mission statement for the annual event. Perhaps I could introduce a motion for adding a mission statement for the annual event instead of amending the org's overall mission statement in the bylaws. Would that be easier? Or is amending the bylaws not that big of a deal?

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1 hour ago, Guest Eric said:

The event director is an appointed volunteer position for planning the annual event. The event director changes every year. It's not the same as the executive director. It's generally frowned upon for the board to interfere with the event director's decisions, however, they certainly could. I don't want to force this issue on the board b/c it could impact their relationship with the event director and ultimately negatively impact the event. My plan at this point is to politely protest by introducing some sort of motion at the annual member meeting.

Rather than trying to finesse some sort of mission statement that might or might not support your position, it would probably be better simply to introduce a motion that the event be held.

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9 minutes ago, Guest Eric said:

The annual event is part of the bylaws and was always part of the organization. The organization mission statement is also mentioned in the bylaws. However, we do not have mission statement for the annual event. Perhaps I could introduce a motion for adding a mission statement for the annual event instead of amending the org's overall mission statement in the bylaws. Would that be easier? Or is amending the bylaws not that big of a deal?

If the annual event is part of the bylaws, then that should be the end of the argument.

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Guest Eric
39 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

It still seems to me that unless your rules or some adopted motion grants this event director unusual authority, his job is to carry out the wishes of the organization, not to direct what the organization will do.

Looking at the verbiage of the job description of the event director, it basically says that the event director's responsibility is to organize and oversee all aspects of the annual event. It doesn't give any additional guidance about carrying out the wishes of the organization or explaining the limits of the event director's authority. Perhaps I could introduce a motion to modify the job description of the event director to carry out the wishes of the organization.

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Guest Eric
4 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

If the annual event is part of the bylaws, then that should be the end of the argument.

I think you're confusing the annual event with the (rejected) activity that I am involved with that has been part of the annual event in the past (although not every year).

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Guest Eric
6 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Rather than trying to finesse some sort of mission statement that might or might not support your position, it would probably be better simply to introduce a motion that the event be held.

By then it will be too late. In fact it is already probably too late. If we started working on it now we would be way behind schedule.

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Guest Eric
15 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Ah, okay.  Is the Annual Event what RONR would call an Annual General Meeting?  The one at which you could move to hold the "rejected" activity, notwithstanding the obejctions of one director?

Yes. The Annual General Meeting. Unfortunately it takes place at the annual event, so that's too late.

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1 hour ago, Guest Eric said:

By then it will be too late. In fact it is already probably too late. If we started working on it now we would be way behind schedule.

I understand that, but since this is an annual event, you can help to ensure that this problem does not recur in the future.

25 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Perhaps it is too late.... we need a lot of more specific information rather than the vague "annual event" that we have been told about.

Do we?

As I understand the facts, the society holds an annual event, which includes the annual business meeting in addition to other non-business activities. This year’s event director has some sort of problem with one of these activities. Since the membership only meets annually, it will not be able to adopt a motion on this issue until the annual meeting, at which point it is a little late to decide to hold this activity, as it seems to involve a fair amount of planning. The board meets more frequently, but for whatever reason is unwilling to give the event director instructions. I don’t know that we need to know any more than that. What exactly the event is won’t change the parliamentary or practical situation.

2 hours ago, Guest Eric said:

Is there anything that would prevent me from being able to introduce a motion in the annual member meeting to change the mission statement of the organization?

You are free to make pretty much whatever motion you want, including all of the ideas you have suggested, unless something in your bylaws or applicable law provides otherwise. If that motion involves amending the bylaws, there are likely notice requirements - check your bylaws. If you are amending something previously adopted (such as a job description) which is not in the bylaws, previous notice is not required, but is desirable. Amending something previously adopted requires a majority vote with notice. Without notice, it requires a 2/3 vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership.

I concur with Mr. Novosielski, however, that you should stop beating around the bush and adopt a motion ordering that the event be held. This will provide the clearest direction to future boards and event directors.

1 hour ago, Guest Eric said:

Looking at the verbiage of the job description of the event director, it basically says that the event director's responsibility is to organize and oversee all aspects of the annual event. It doesn't give any additional guidance about carrying out the wishes of the organization or explaining the limits of the event director's authority. Perhaps I could introduce a motion to modify the job description of the event director to carry out the wishes of the organization.

All employees of an organization are expected to carry out the wishes of the organization. That is the default arrangement. There is no need to specifically state that.

Edited by Josh Martin

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Guest Eric
4 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

You are free to make pretty much whatever motion you want, including all of the ideas you have suggested, unless something in your bylaws or applicable law provides otherwise. If that motion involves amending the bylaws, there are likely notice requirements - check your bylaws. If you are amending something previously adopted (such as a job description) which is not in the bylaws, previous notice is not required, but is desirable. Amending something previously adopted requires a majority vote with notice. Without notice, it requires a 2/3 vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership.

This is very helpful. Thank you! What is the definition of "previously adopted" in this case? Does that mean that it was voted on? What if no one ever voted on the language of the job description? Does that mean that it was not previously adopted?

 

4 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

All employees of an organization are expected to carry out the wishes of the organization. That is the default arrangement. There is no need to specifically state that.

Is this specified somewhere in RONR?

 

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Guest Susie

"The event director is an appointed volunteer position for planning the annual event."

 

OK - so traditionally there was (for example) an Annual Meeting/Event with a dinner and fundraising auction held afterwards. The Event Director decided that he/she didn't want the auction, so that was dropped. Now people are upset.

Usually there are committees that organize such large events, and they pass motions to approve the event's budget, what the event will look like, etc. etc.  It doesn't sound like that was done. This sounds like a one-person planner.

The Board could motion to establish Annual Event Committee so that more than one person would plan such an important event. Sounds like it's too late this year, however.

 

and

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