The RID Board recently received a letter signed by eight RID members which questions the power of the Board to create fees independent of member dues. In response to this letter, which was made public by the authors, we have decided to share our response publicly as well.
The authors of the letter cite one section of the RID Bylaws which authorizes the RID Board to increase or decrease the cost of dues by 10%. In the event that the RID Board wants to increase dues by, for example, 20%, this would require an affirmative vote of the membership. Here is the relevant section of the Bylaws.
We believe it is important that members are aware that the Board always includes a review of the Bylaws during its decision-making process. Additionally, when there is any question or concern, we consult with our legal counsels, parliamentarian, and RID councils (DAC, DivC, CoE). We also work to engage with members prior to making decisions.
For this particular situation, during the March 2016 face-to-face board meeting, the Board acknowledged and discussed the fact that RID has, historically, conflated the terms “dues” and “fees.” This practice of having the terms used interchangeably has occurred frequently in our external communications. Internally, however, the RID Board has always had a clear distinction of these terms. During the board’s discussion process and prior to approval of the FY 2017 dues and fees structure, the RID Board confirmed that we have the authority to make such decisions. Once the decision was made, the Board focused on how to message to the members a clear explanation as to how their dues and fees are being allocated. Transparency in this regard is one of the Board’s expressed values.
Out of respect to the members who sent the letter, the Board again reviewed the process that had been followed during the March Board meeting and also consulted with our legal counsel. This second layer of due diligence reaffirmed the fact that the Board does have the authority to set fees without membership approval.
To reiterate, the Board’s authority to increase or decrease dues is limited to 10%, however, the RID Board can set fees that are necessary to sustain the work of the organization without member approval. This authority comes from the section of the Bylaws relating to the Board’s corporate powers. The only other limitation of the Board, as written in the Bylaws, is the limited ability to make certain decisions regarding certification and member status. Let’s show you the relevant sections of the Bylaws.
Over the last several years, we have been working to clarify the difference between membership dues and fees. This year we took a step further in that clarification by providing clear information detailing the allocation of your dues and the allocation of fees. This information has been previously shared in a vlog, but we would like to share it again for your reference. The Board values providing clear information and is working to clarify to members how your dues and fees are being used. Here is the previously published graph showing the distribution of dues and fees.
This graph shows that membership dues are used for services related to member benefits, and fees are set for the maintenance of professional credentials, programs, and services.
In summary, in response to the letter received, the Board did review the March 2016 decision regarding the FY 2017 dues and fees structure with legal counsel and the parliamentarian and affirmed that we acted within our authority. Doing this required that we dedicate additional time and money to verify a process we had already completed. This process took the Board’s attention from other RID priorities; however, we did so out of respect for those members who expressed concern. We feel that it is important to make sure the information was clear, not only to those who authored the letter but to those who were engaged in the discussion publicly. Now that it’s understood that the RID Board made an informed decision, with the authority provided to the Board through the RID Bylaws, we look forward to closing this discussion and moving forward.