Below are the bylaws for the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Northeastern New York as adopted at the January 2017 monthly meeting. Group members are welcome to provide their feedback in the comments field under the Leave A Reply label at the bottom of this page or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BYLAWS OF THE RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS OF NORTHEASTERN NEW YORK
(As amended Fall 2016)
ARTICLE I – GENERAL
1.1 Name: The group is named the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Northeastern New York. Most common abbreviations are RPCVs of NENY and RPCV-NENY.
1.2 Purposes/Mission: The purposes of RPCVs of NENY are to promote and advance the Third Goal of the Peace Corps (the Third Goal of the Peace Corps aims to help Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries); to exist as the Northeastern New York regional affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association and, as such, be the regional alumni association of returned Peace Corps Volunteers, staff, and friends of Peace Corps; to provide information about Peace Corps to interested parties; to provide an organization for anyone interested in the mission and work of the Peace Corps, international development, and local volunteerism; to educate Americans about other countries and cultures and to facilitate cross-cultural exchanges; to support the Peace Corps and promote policies consistent with its mission and the group’s priorities; and engage in advocacy on local and global issues consistent with the group’s values and mission.
1.3 Headquarters: Until necessary, the group shall establish no official headquarters. For the purposes of banking and conducting other business, a current member’s mailing address may be used as the address for the group.
1.4 Location and Purpose of Meetings: Location of the monthly meetings shall, as the norm, be a current member’s home. The group shall respect the homes of hosting members. The location of monthly meetings may be moved to other locations as deemed desirable or necessary by members or current officers.
Five types of meeting may be convened: (1) Business; (2) Officers’; (3) Informational; (4) Community service; and (5) Social. Any combination of these may be convened simultaneously and at the same venue.
Business meetings are called for the purpose of discussing the operation of the group and formal voting on business items. Business meetings are open to all members, and will be announced by electronic media two weeks prior and again three to four days prior to its convening.
Officers’ meetings may be called ad hoc by any current officer and only announced to the current officers. These meetings may be closed or open at the pleasure of the current officers. The purpose of the Officers’ meetings is to discuss the operation of the organization, set policies and agendas, and inform each other of their prescribed official activities.
Informational meetings have the purpose of educating the membership, educating the public, or exchanging information on issues before the membership or of general interest. Informational meetings are open to all members and the public, and are to be announced by electronic media at least one week before their convening.
Community service meetings are gatherings of members for activities that promote the third goal of the Peace Corps, and aid the local and world community. These may be performed by participation in community activities and services, support potential and serving U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, and communicate to the public the purpose of the U.S. Peace Corps and the RPCV-NENY, among others. These should be announced by electronic media at any appropriate time.
Social meetings have the purpose of promoting and enhancing camaraderie among the membership and guests, and entertain those interested in the U.S. Peace Corps.
Any meeting which serves to recruit potential applicants and explicitly promote participation in Peace Corps must first be approved by the Regional Peace Corps Recruiting Office. The group may not convene events that specifically and directly recruit people to participate in Peace Corps unless approved by the Regional Recruiting Office.
ARTICLE II – MEMBERS
2.1 Members: Any individual expressing interest and demonstrating agreement with the values and mission of RPCVs of NENY may become a member. Membership is officially obtained by any individual who requests to become a member by letter or electronic media to the Membership Officer. This request is accompanied by the requester’s formal name, mailing address, an e-mail address, and telephone number. No vetting is required; no waiting period is required; no vote by the membership is required; no specific qualifications or experience is required. Any individual attending an official meeting is automatically considered a member once they have provided the information, listed above, to the Membership Officer. If it is discovered that a member is a convicted felon or an indicted felon, depending upon the nature of the crime, that member can be removed from the membership list by a majority vote at an official business meeting. Those active with or belonging to the group prior to the adoption of these bylaws are not required to submit their written membership request. It shall be the responsibility of the Membership Officer to solicit, collect, and document membership requests in the group’s membership log.
2.2 Membership Requirements: RPCVs of NENY have no strict membership requirements except as outlined in section 2.1. Members are not required to attend a minimum amount of meetings or events or maintain a specific level of participation.
2.3 Membership Rights: Members of RPCVs of NENY have the right to participate in group activities and vote on group decisions. Beyond these two rights, RPCVs of NENY offer no specific rights to its members. The Membership Officer will be responsible for making sure current and potential members understand the methods used by the group to communicate with its members. Whenever possible, the membership officer shall encourage members to use one or more of the communication methods to stay in contact with the group. At official business meetings, a quorum is established when 5 members are present beside the current officers. If a quorum is established, a majority vote would include the attending members, and the current officers, and those participating by electronic media. Any individual may vote as soon as they are declared a member. Voting may also be conducted via electronic media such as email, Facebook communication, and online form submittals. When voting by electronic media, the officers must not allow a member to vote more than once (i.e. at a meeting and via email).
2.4 Revocation of Membership: Membership in RPCVs of NENY may be revoked with the support of a majority of members, demonstrated by vote, or by two or more of the current group officers. Membership may be revoked for conduct contrary to the values and mission of the group, physical or verbal abuse by a member toward other members or associates of the group, improperly representing the group and its interests, theft of group funds or intent to steal funds or property belonging to the group, or any other reasons deemed to be contrary to the values and mission of the group.
2.5 Executive/Steering Committee: Any current and former office holders are considered part of the group’s executive/steering committee. Any former office holder may opt not to participate in committee duties with no repercussions on his or her membership in the group. The committee should be consulted on any major changes to the group such as, but not limited to, altering meeting schedules, undertaking fundraising activities, major expenditures (still subject to a group vote), nomination of future officers, changes to the group bylaws, changes to the group structure or mission, and other actions to be taken on behalf of the group.
2.6 Bi-annual Membership Survey: Whenever possible, the officers should create and distribute a membership survey approximately every two years to gauge member satisfaction and potential future priorities. Officers should analyze the results, take action when appropriate and supported by the group. The officers will also share the results of the survey with the group. Results will also be posted on the group’s public website.
ARTICLE III – OFFICERS
3.1 Offices and Terms of Office: RPCVs of NENY has the following offices and corresponding terms of office:
President: 2 years (no reelection)
Vice-President: 2 years (no reelection)
Treasurer: 2 years (may be reelected)
Membership Officer: No term limit; may be combined with office of Vice President
Webmaster: No term limit; whenever possible, 3 or more members should be able to develop, contribute to and maintain RPCVs of NENY’s website and online activity.
Additional offices or officers may be added either on a permanent or temporary basis as needed and as confirmed and approved by a majority of the current officers.
When deemed necessary, officers may propose adjustments to the normal office terms in order to accommodate members interested in volunteering for an open position. Officers must present any changes to the group, provide a specific plan for the change, and a timetable for expected return to normal terms. This change requires the approval of both the president and vice-president but not the group.
3.2 Removal of Officers: Any RPCVs of NENY officer may be removed from office with the support of a majority of members, demonstrated by vote, or by two or more of the current group officers. Membership may be revoked for conduct contrary to the values and mission of the group, physical or verbal abuse by a member toward other members or associates of the group, improperly representing the group and its interests, theft of group funds or intent to steal funds or property belonging to the group, or other reasons deemed to be contrary to the values and mission of the group.
3.3 Vacancies and Nominations: When possible, the group will be given at least two months in advance of the end of an officer’s term to nominate a suitable replacement. The current officers should prepare one or more names for the group’s consideration, whenever possible. If new officers are not nominated, the term of current officers extends until they are replaced via the nomination and voting process or until the officers are removed from office pursuant to section 3.2 of these bylaws.
3.4 Officers’ Duties
President: The President provides leadership and direction for the group. The President is responsible for correspondence with NPCA and for submitting the NPCA member group report. The President is responsible for setting the agenda of and running the monthly meetings. The President may also perform financial and webmaster duties as needed.
- Vice-President: The Vice-President supports the President in the leadership and administrative duties of the group. The VP shall be understood to be in line to assume the office of President, following a vote by the group at the end of the President’s term. In this way, the VP shall have two years to learn about the leadership and administration of the group by observing and supporting the President. The VP is responsible for finding locations and speakers for the monthly meetings. Whenever possible, monthly meeting location and speaker duties should be shared with other willing group members. The VP may also perform financial and webmaster duties at the direction of the Treasurer and President.
- Membership: The Membership Officer is responsible for maintaining membership logs including the following information: members’ names, contact information, and country/countries of PC service; membership status; payment status; and other items relevant to promoting the interests of the group and being accountable to members. The Membership Officer shall also take on the responsibilities of promoting membership to potential new members. Whenever possible, the Membership Officer shall inform the President and the group at large about changes or updates to group membership.
- Treasurer: The Treasurer is responsible for making deposits into and writing checks from the group’s accounts. The Treasurer is responsible for presenting the President and VP with a bank statement and other relevant financial news at each monthly meeting and upon request. The Treasurer is the primary point of contact for communication with the group’s bank and with other groups’ treasurers.
3.5 Record keeping
The group shall maintain digital, online records of its monthly meetings, agenda, notes, etc. as well as its financial reports and annual renewal applications to NPCA for five (5) years. Hard copy or paper copies of RPCVs of NENY records may be provided upon request. Bank statements shall be accessed via the website of the group’s current financial institution.
Membership lists shall be maintained on an on-going basis through online records. Additions or subtractions to member details shall be made as quickly as possible so as to keep the records current and accurate. Membership list information may be provided only as allowed for in the NPCA data sharing agreement or by approval from two or more current officers.
ARTICLE IV – BYLAWS: DISTRIBUTION AND AMENDMENT
4.1 Distribution of Bylaws: Bylaws are posted on the group’s public website (https://rpcv-neny.org/about/group-bylaws-draft/). Bylaws are available in print or other format upon request from any group member. Requests for the group’s bylaws by non-members must be approved by the VP or President.
4.2 Amendment of Bylaws: Bylaws may amended at a monthly meeting following written notice and a discussion period. Acceptance or rejection will be by a majority vote of all members present and all electronic votes. The following items do not require a group vote: spelling or typographical errors in the bylaws, changes required for webpage formatting, reordering of bylaw section numbers or labels based on recent bylaw changes.
4.3 Required Vote: Approval of the group’s annual budget requires a majority vote. Any significant deviations from the annual budget also require a vote from the group. Election of new officers requires a nomination from a current member, a second by another current member and majority approval by vote at a monthly meeting. Officers should not be elected via email. The following may be approved by a majority of current office holders instead of a majority of current or respondent members: payment or reimbursement for web hosting fees and the purchase of RPCVs of Madison fundraising calendars. These items must be included in the annual budget when possible.
4.4. Proposing Amendments: Any member may propose an amendment. The amendment must be discussed during at least one monthly meeting, posted on the group’s public website, or distributed via email for review before a vote is held.
ARTICLE V – FINANCES
5.1. Membership Dues: Members can pay dues through NPCA or directly to RPCVs of NENY. Those payment directly to RPCVs of NENY should be informed of the option to join through NPCA. Annual membership in RPCVs of NENY is $15.00. RPCVs of NENY does not enforce dues or require them for members to participate. Members may pay more or less than the $15.00 amount at any time during the year. The Treasurer and other members must explain to any donors that RPCVs of NENY is not a recognized charitable organization and therefore donations are not declarable on state or federal tax returns.
5.2 Account Privileges and Maintenance: The President, Vice President and Treasurer have access to the group’s accounts. No other members are allowed to access the group’s accounts without the written permission of all three of the above-mentioned members. All officers must forfeit their account access at the end of their term(s).
5.3 Checks, Drafts and Notes: All checks, drafts, or other orders for the payment of money and all notes or other evidence of indebtedness issued in the name of the RPCVs of NENY must be signed by a current officer.
5.4 Deposits: All funds of the RPCVs of NENY not otherwise employed must be deposited to the credit of the RPCVs of NENY.
5.5 Annual Budget: At the March Business/Potluck meeting, the officers must present an annual budget to the group for review and approval. This budget shall be distributed via email and posted on the public website when appropriate and possible.
The budget shall outline the following:
Current financial state of the group including current account balance and a report by the officers on the ability of the group to continue or expand its usual financial activities;
All anticipated expenses for the upcoming 12 month period including description and amount of each expense;
All anticipated revenue and contributions for the upcoming 12 month period including description and amount of each expense; given the unpredictable and variable nature of membership dues, they do not need to be included in the annual budget; officers may, when possible, offer a forecast of expected membership dues for the upcoming 12 month period;
Any proposed or planned fundraising activities including a description of the activities and expected costs and revenue;
Any significant changes to the financial activity or state of the group; this may include addition of new donations, change of banking institution, change of treasurer, or other related issues.
5.6 Disbursement of Monies
- Disbursement of funds for recurring expenses and those necessary to the operation of the group will be addressed by the executive committee, including the Augusta Field Scholarship Fund (see addendum). Such outlays shall be reported to the group in the monthly treasurer’s report.
- Prior to the December meeting, the executive committee will email a list of organizations or projects that have been proposed for support and the amounts suggested to the member. Members may vote on these disbursements by email to the secretary or in person at the monthly meeting. Passage shall be by a majority of those present and all emailed votes.
The process for determining annual outlays shall consist of a period to nominate organizations to receive support, a period for discussion, and then a vote at the following meeting. One month shall be allowed for discussion. Written nominations with a brief statement of purpose and how it meets the mission of RPCV-NENY shall be submitted by Oct. 31. Discussion will occur at the November meeting and a vote taken in December. In the event that this schedule cannot be met, a vote shall be taken at the earliest appropriate time.
- Proposed support of one-time expenditures — such as Peace Corps partnerships or memorials — shall be sent to the members in an email prior to the upcoming meeting. Any member who cannot attend may vote on the proposed outlay by email (or other means) prior to the meeting. Acceptance or rejection of the proposal will be by a majority vote of all members present and all absentee votes. If an immediate decision is required, for example, to meet a deadline or to respond to a crisis, the executive committee may suspend this process and disperse up to $100.
- In the event that the group wishes to support a project outside the process in #2, for example, after a presentation at a meeting, donations may be made by those in attendance (i.e. passing the hat or providing a donations jar)
The executive committee will present the list of organizations as proposed by the members.
This annual budget shall be distributed in hard copy at the March Business meeting and distributed via electronic media at least two weeks prior to the March meeting. All members should be encouraged to review and vote on the budget. If approved, the officers should document the details of the budget that received approval and seek input from the group only when a significant deviation from the budget is necessary or anticipated.
If not approved, the officers shall collect input from the group via meetings and electronic media to better understand what aspects led to the budget’s disapproval. A revised budget should be presented to the group in the manner described above at the next scheduled Business/Potluck meeting as well as via email and online. This process shall be repeated until a budget is approved. If budget approval is not provided after it is first presented, the officers shall follow the previous year’s budget projected to the current year as much as possible.
Whenever possible, the current officers should involve future officers in the development of the annual budget.
Officers may request expenditures not identified on the annual budget when necessary. If requesting expenditures outside the annual budget, the Officers should provide an explanation to the group either at a business meeting or/and via email. The group shall vote at the business meeting or via email, depending on the nature of the expense.
ARTICLE VI – INDEMNIFICATION
6.1 Indemnification: Each person who at any time is or has been an officer of RPCVs of NENY or is serving or has served at the request of the RPCVs of NENY will be indemnified by the RPCVs of NENY in accordance with and to the full extent permitted by the law as in effect at the time of adoption of this bylaw or as such law may be amended from time to time.
ARTICLE VII – CONFORMANCE OF BYLAWS
7.1 Conformance of Bylaws: If any provision of these bylaws does not conform to the requirements of New York State or other applicable law, the group is authorized to revise that provision until it conforms to those requirements. However, if any such revision would destroy the purpose of the provision, these bylaws must then be amended as set out above:
Informational addendum: Augusta Field Memorial Lifelong Learning Fund: In memory of former group president Augusta Field, the group shall establish and annually fund one or more current members’ participation in Peace Corps Connect annual conference or another Peace Corps related conference, seminar or event. This fund celebrates the memory and service of our beloved former president, Augusta Field. Augusta, who passed away in 2015, was a volunteer in Lesotho in 1988. She was a very active, passionate, and warmhearted part of our group for many years. Her friendly and collegial spirit added vitality and welcomed members new and old. This fund salutes her work in higher education, her many contributions to the group, and serves to keep her memory alive.
The support this fund, the group shall make available a minimum amount of money each year (up to $300). Current office holders should, after reviewing the group’s finances, propose a specific amount as part of the annual budget. Members may request some or all of this funding in writing to any of the group’s officers. The group’s officers should bring worthy funding requests as well as their recommendation on approval to the group for a vote. Members receiving funding will be responsible to present to the group about their experience at Peace Corps Connect or whichever event is funded by the group’s donation. Members accepting funds agree to attend the event in question or refund in total the amount granted. This amount shall not accumulate year upon year. A new amount shall be authorized by the group’s officers each year. The group’s officers should promote the availability of funds via email, on the group’s website, and through contact with members.