Continuing Resolutions

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Written by Jock MacKenzie (Westlake Village)

Problem 
The constitution and by-laws prescribed by RI for the management of each of our clubs are deliberately vague when it comes to the actual governance of a club. The Manual of Procedure (MOP) shows the relatively few "rules" laid down for us by RI. 

Solution
Because we're left basically to our own devices, and because the RI constitution and bylaws shown in the MOP don't pretend to define each club's traditions and accepted procedures, what are called "Continuing Resolutions" should be adopted in each club.

Continuing Resolutions are those general procedures followed by a given club?the ones with which a club is familiar and comfortable. They are a series of club policy statements which are accepted by a club's Board of Directors prior to the start of each Rotary year. The statements define how a particular club is managed. Having the incoming Board meet and agree upon, and then publish for the members, the club's Continuing Resolutions for the ensuing Rotary year has at least two great benefits:

    a. It forces the new Board to understand, question, change and adopt the Resolutions as "theirs".

    b. Subsequent publication to the membership opens the window to club governance procedures for all the members, making the members feel more "ownership" of what and how the club does what it does.

For example: Clubs nominate and elect officers and directors differently. In some clubs, everyone who is eligible for president is shown on a preliminary list which is then distributed to the members. Anyone not desiring to be nominated for president calls the club secretary and has the name taken off the preliminary list. Remaining are those who are both eligible and willing to serve. The club membership as a whole elects the President-Elect-Nominee in December of each year. The person getting the most votes wins; the second highest vote getter becomes an alternate pick.

In other clubs, the past presidents gather in November to decide who should be nominated. In one club, if there are four open Board positions, ten members are nominated and prioritized. The ten are called in priority order by the immediate past president until five people have agreed to run for the board. The club members elect the four board members, and the low vote getter succeeds to office if one of the first four cannot complete a term. In that same club, there are five members nominated for president, and the names are prioritized. They're called in priority order until one accepts nomination. The club's Board of Directors elects the president.

There are plenty of Continuing Resolutions that would allow running a club to be easier, without restricting a club to what might be comfortable for someone else but inappropriate at the local level. Here are a few generally accepted examples of subjects which might require Resolutions:

An annual review of the financial records; the way a Red Badge program is conducted: how much the dues are and how they are used; the Board of Directors meeting time, place and frequency; and the Club's meeting time and place.

The ways your club deals with specific events and problems should be in writing, accepted (or not) annually by each succeeding Board, and updated as situations and desires change. If you do this, you will end the wrangling at Board meetings when two members have differing views of "the way we've always done it." If you have an approved set of Continuing Resolutions, governance becomes easier for each succeeding president, and board members are more willing to serve when they know they don't have to argue about every little thing that comes up. It's in writing, and they accepted it at the beginning of the Rotary year. Does it mean that because a policy is in writing that it can't be changed? No, that's not the case at all. It's a codification of what's usual and beneficial to the club. New ideas and situations come up, and the "rules" get changed. But at least, there's guidance to begin with and someplace to start with the solution to a problem.