Article 2 of Poverty Bay Sail & Power Squadron's By laws calls for the squadron "To render, and encourage its members to render such altruistic, patriotic, or other civil service as it may from time to time determine or elect."

In the past, squadron members have contributed funds and/or goods to worthwhile charitable organizations in alignment with the By laws. In most instances these funds were a result of a fund raising activity or, in the case of goods, the result of donations by members.

In other cases the funds have come from the general fund of the squadron without a specific fund raising activity or drive. In these cases the Executive Committee is responsible for the approval and disbursement of the funds by the squadron treasurer. Section 6.6 details the role of the treasurer.

6.6.2 - "The treasurer shall pay all bills contracted by this squadron which have been approved by the Executive Committee or by the head of a department or the chairman of a committee which has contracted the same by virtue of appropriations made by the Executive Committee or by the adopted budget."

At the March 4, 2004 Executive Committee meeting the topic of how charitable organizations have been selected in the past was discussed. It was generally agreed that it had become a rather informal process. While there has been no harm done or funds distributed to unworthy causes, it did appear the By laws were not being upheld, as the Executive Committee had not approved all contributions.

As I see it, there are two issues to be resolved. First, how to decide which charitable organization will be supported by the Squadron. Second, the approval process for distributing general funds of the squadron to a charitable organization.

In order to be in compliance with the By laws the following process is proposed:

  1. Any member in good standing of the squadron may nominate a charitable organization that he/she feels is worthy of the squadron's endorsement or consideration for financial support. This should be done in writing and may be given to any member of the Executive Committee.
  2. At the Executive Committee meeting following the nomination any and all such nominations will be reviewed and voted on for approval. The person making the nomination shall not be present at the meeting. If the nomination came from a member of the Executive Committee he/she would not be allowed to participate in the discussion nor vote.
  3. All members who make a nomination shall receive direct feedback as to the results of the Executive Committee's decision. The Commander is responsible for making sure this is done in an appropriate manner.
  4. On a timely basis, the Executive Committee will communicate any decision to support a specific charitable organization to the membership in whatever manner it deems appropriate. This communication should disclose whether the Executive Committee is asking the membership for financial support and/or is making a donation from the general fund.
  5. If appropriate and based on the Executive Committee's approval and guidelines, the treasurer is thereby authorized to distribute the funds.

As an example, one of the squadron's traditions is to raise funds for a charitable organization at the Christmas party. Based on the 5 steps listed above the process would be seen to work as follows:

  • September:
  • An article detailing the process and requesting nominations is published in the September edition of the Pirate's Log. (Note: once the membership is familiar with the process this early notification will not needed.)
  • October:
  • A reminder of the nomination process is made at the dinner meeting with an additional article published in the October issue of the Pirate's Log. The deadline for nominations will be the November dinner meeting night.
  • November:
  • A request for any further nominations shall be made at the dinner meeting. The decision will be made at the November Executive Committee meeting with the results published in the December Pirate's Log.
  • December:
  • If appropriate, after the Christmas party the treasurer will disperse any funds coming from the general fund. Details of member donations as well as any general fund disbursements will be published in the January Pirate's Log.

I believe this policy will not only keep the squadron in alignment with its By laws but will also increase member involvement and decision transparency. It should also facilitate the squadron supporting a wider and more diverse group of deserving organizations in our community.

Respectfully submitted by Jack Green