As chair of the SDA National Bylaws Committee, it’s my job to help national and all chapters assure that their bylaws and standing rules are current and in compliance.
But what are bylaws anyway? They are the document that governs the national organization (or chapters), basically a contract between the organization and its officers so that the business of the organization is conducted consistently. They describe various membership categories, committees, types of meetings and how they are held, and the people who have authority to make decisions, among other things. As a chapter, your state requires bylaws in order for you to be organized in that state. (And SDA National requires that you have bylaws/standing rules to remain in good standing as a chapter.)
In general, bylaws shouldn’t change considerably, unless there are changes within the organization that would require changes to the bylaws.
Standing rules establish specifics for the organization, such as uses of finances and responsibilities of committees.
Bottom line, bylaws are designed to be overarching and procedural, while standing rules are specific and administrative.
Sounds complicated, I know… That’s why SDA’s Bylaws committee exists – to help members and chapters understand their bylaws and standing rules, and to assist when changes are contemplated.
We’re a small committee (shout out to Gretchen Renz, CDFA, my right-hand committee member and our ExCom Liaison, Karen Roman, FSDA), and we don’t get much time in the spotlight, which is just how we like it. Unless there are amendments to the national bylaws or standing rules that create a lot of discussion during the annual business meeting. Remember the name change amendment?
But we’re here when needed – by ExCom and chapters – when a question arises regarding conformance with bylaws, when a chapter wants to make a change, or has a question. Just the other day I received an email about whether or not their chapter had a quorum. The answer was yes, by the way.
So remember your national Bylaws Committee when you have a question – we love to hear from you!
Betsy Nickless, FSDA, currently serves the SDA National Bylaws Committee Chair.