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The Bylaws in Plain English
The writers of bylaws for an organization usually give top priority to exact statements. Readability usually suffers as a result. Also the bylaws contain statements of each bylaw but not the reasons for having that bylaw. For these reasons we have included this section wherein we have attempted to give the general intent of the bylaws in a more readable form along with a short explanation of the reason for the bylaw when appropriate.
March 20, 1998
Bylaws for Members for Church Accountability Inc. (MCA)
Article I — OBJECTIVES
In this section the objectives of the organization are given. One needs to state what the organization is going to do. Also the objectives are given to provide limit to the activities of the organization.
A. The primary purpose of MCA is to provide a way for people to work together toward accountability reform.
B. It is believed that a foremost need is to alert church members of the need for accountability reform. It is hoped that informed members will want to take action to bring needed changes.
C. The organization will solicit members in order to be effective.
D. The organization provides a way to make contributions to this effort tax deductible (USA).
E. Members will doubtless not agree on the exact approaches to use in working toward accountability reform. We want to provide the flexibility for groups of members who see things the same way, to work together without needing everybody in the whole organization to agree with what their approach is. Their approaches must, of course, remain within the organization's broad guidelines.
F. We don't want to create a complex organization. We want to keep it simple.
G. We want to provide a means for members to interact as a group with church leaders. We hope that this will get further than individuals interacting with leaders by themselves.
H. We want to make independent audits of the church. In order for these audits to be really independent we believe they must be paid for by an independent organization such as MCA rather than by the organization that is being audited, i.e., the church.
Article II — MEMBERS
A. Persons in agreement with the objectives and methods of MCA can become members by completing a membership application form or by otherwise requesting membership. Membership may be dropped by a written communication with the secretary-treasurer.
B. The secretary-treasurer will maintain a list of current members. Anonymity cannot be guaranteed.
C. There will be no charge directly associated with MCA membership.
Article III —AGENTS
A. MCA is an umbrella service organization for the groups of members formed within it. The groups are where the action is. The bylaws call the leader of the group an "agent"
B. Any member may organize a group and become its leader or agent. Don't do so lightly, though. It will be a lot of work.
C. Agents do not speak for the MCA organization itself.
D. Agents can set up accounts to which contributions may be made.
E. In MCA we don't take lots of votes. Members "vote" by joining a group that they approve of or by starting their own.
F. If an agent does not support the objectives of MCA or has "bad manners" he/she will be asked to quit.
G. If you contribute to the expense account of one of the groups, you should know that the agent or leader has the prerogative of spending it for expenses.
Article IV — ACCOUNTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
This section tells about the bookkeeping accounts of MCA. The "member holding" accounts are of most interest.
Any member may request that a member holding account be established for them. These accounts are offered only as a service to members. They allow members to make contributions in one tax year but delay disbursement to the destination charity until another year. This allows members who believe they must delay contributions until a later time, to do so while still taking the tax deduction in the current year. The 'catch' that makes this legal is that once you have made a contribution to a holding account, you can never get it back. All the choice that you have is to direct that it be passed on to another legal tax deductible charity of your choice. You can do this whenever you like.
Please pardon some blunt speaking here. Keeping track of such an account is a lot of work for our volunteer help (even though they are under the direction of a commercial accounting firm). Please don't ask for such an account and then nickel and dime us to exhaustion. These accounts are intended for use by those who have quite sizable contributions they want to make by this means. While we are on the subject, it saves work also when members save up any contributions for a reasonable time then make them in one larger contribution. We don't mean to 'look a gift horse in the mouth' but the work can get overwhelming to the volunteer help.
It is important to know that you don't have to worry about such holding accounts at all in order to contribute to the work of MCA. Contributions not otherwise directed will be put into the general operating account (used for office expenses, mailings, accounting help, etc.). You may also contribute to the account for future auditing and investigating activities or to the expenses of an MCA group by marking your contribution appropriately.
Some people like diagrams. The following might be of help to some people. It diagrams how contributions can be made directly to MCA accounts or, alternately, how they can pass into a member holding account and at a later time be disbursed to other MCA accounts or to external charities. If you don't like the diagram don't pay any attention to it.
I. Expenses for mailings and promotions can be paid from a groups accounts. No wages will be paid to the trustees or to the agents (group leaders). It's volunteer help.
Article V — ACTIVITIES
A. MCA will make attempts to arrange audits of conference records. If they are not allowed to do so the attempt will at least be reported.
C. The secretary-treasurer needs to get the help of a professional accountant to keep the books.
D. The secretary-treasurer will publish a newsletter. The newsletter will contain a quarterly financial statement of MCA, trustees reports, votes on bylaws and letters from members as space allows.
E. This is what an agent can do. Mainly they speak to the conference leaders on behalf of their group. They have to stay within the guidelines of MCA.
F. The agents work is to promote accountability. They can't use MCA to carry out other agendas.
G. Agents have to keep their group of supporters informed about their activities.
Article VI — DECISIONS
A. Rules for making amendments to the bylaws.
B. Generally you vote in MCA by joining a group.
Article VII — TRUSTEES
The trustees are to make sure that the organization runs according to the bylaws.