[REVISED BY BOARD MAY 18, 2016]
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
League of Women Voters of Dane County, Inc.
Table of Contents
I. Political Activities
II. Speaking for the League
III. Programs and Program Review
V. President Elect
VI. Budget and Fiscal Items
VII. Delegates to Conventions
VIII. Access to LWV-DC Meeting Space, Equipment, and Materials
IX. Discussion Units
X. Local Municipality / District Study
XII. Memorial Fund
XIII. Use of Various Communication Vehicles
XV. Document Retention
I. POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
The Bylaws state that the League of Women Voters may take action on governmental measures and policies in the public interest, but that it shall not support or oppose any political party or candidate.
At the same time, the League is a political organization and encourages members to participate fully in the political party of their choice. It is an advantage to the League to have politically active members and, equally important, it can be a personally satisfying experience.
To ensure careful protection of this policy, Board members should use discretion in their political activities to preserve the League’s reputation for being non-partisan. The President, Voters Service Chair, and fund raising chair shall not engage in any visible political or partisan activity, which includes:
- Publicly endorsing a candidate
- Making a contribution to a candidate or party at a level higher than nominal (equal to or greater than $20)
- Hosting, organizing, or attending a fundraiser for a candidate
- Circulating or signing a nomination petition for a candidate (because in WI a signature on a nomination paper indicates support of the candidate)
- Circulating a referendum petition, unless the League has specifically endorsed the petition
- Holding office in a political party organization
- Managing a campaign or performing a visible campaign role for a candidate for public office
- Posting a lawn sign or bumper sticker for a candidate
- Accepting an appointment to a position on a partisan basis (e.g. Governor’s cabinet)
- Holding office in another organization that supports or opposes political parties or candidates
- Running for public office
- Belonging to a political party
The President, Voters Service Chair, and fund raising chair shall not publicly take positions, even as individuals, on issues in ways which conflict with League positions. Board members with portfolios on specific issues shall not publicly take positions, even as individuals, on those issues in ways which conflict with League positions.
All Board members are encouraged to limit visible partisan political activity. Board members may not run for public office.
All Board members may
- Attend candidate coffees and similar functions to become better informed on candidates and issues
- Participate in behind-the-scenes efforts for candidates, such as anonymous telephoning and office work and issue research
- Publicly support or oppose issues on which League does not have a position.
Board members who are not the President, Voters Service Chair, or Fundraising chair, may
- Belong to political parties
- Sign nomination papers.
Nomination papers for candidates and campaign materials for candidates or parties shall not be circulated during, before, or after League meetings. Contributions for LWV activities shall not be solicited from elected officials, nor from candidates during an election period.
It is League policy that the political activities of a spouse, partner, or relative of a Board member should be considered separate and distinct from the activities of a Board member.
Board members should seek the advice of the Board if there is any question of application of the League’s policy.
II. SPEAKING FOR THE LEAGUE
"Speaking" on behalf of LWVDC follows a plan that is presented to the Board, Executive Committee, or President, who decide that the action conforms to League policy and support positions. The form of the action may be written statements, verbal testimony at hearings, or conversations with public officials both elected and appointed.
A. Authorization is required for League officers, board members and other members to speak publicly on behalf of the LWVDC.
B. Consensus Questions, Letters, Statements, etc.
1. Member agreement questions on local program topics, summaries of member agreement, and statements of support positions shall be approved by the Board. The positions may be acted on as soon as approved.
2. Speakers for all public meetings (workshops, general meetings, radio and television broadcasts) shall be approved by the President, who carries the major responsibility for the League image.
3. Discussion outlines, communications to units, Bulletin articles and minutes shall be read by the President and/or appropriate Board members before copying and distribution.
4. Letters, statements, and all other substantive communication on local issues shall be submitted to the Executive Committee (or President if time does not permit) for approval. The exact wording and method of presentation shall be determined by the appropriate committee and President. Responses to LWVWI and LWVUS calls for action may be approved by the President.
5. Letters, statements, questionnaires, and all other substantive communications to the public and to appointed and elected officials shall be signed by the President as elected spokesperson. They may be co-signed either by the committee chair or, in the case of outlying Units, by a resident Board member or the Unit leader.
6. The President may designate an officer, Board member, or appropriate League member to deliver an official statement at a hearing.
C. Individual Action Alerts
The Board, Executive Committee or President may also direct that the full membership be alerted to the need to act as individuals.
D. LWV Representatives on Governmental or Community Commissions or Committees and League Observers
1. In order to function as a working member of a committee, an official League representative may take part in the discussions and decision-making of the group. The representative should be well versed on League positions and take care that any
representation reflects League positions. The League representative should periodically report on the group's activities to the President and/or Board. Official League representatives on government boards, commissions or committees must be paid-up members.
2. Observers are not to participate in meetings without authorization to present a League position. However, they may ask questions for clarification. When observing a meeting for the League, an observer shall not sign a resolution as an individual.
III. PROGRAMS AND PROGRAM REVIEW
A. The Board shall endeavor to keep members abreast of League positions that are not under current study, especially when action is contemplated or carried out.
B. Unless a general meeting or special meeting (e.g., Lively Issues luncheon) for members deals exclusively with an existing LWV position, the League will endeavor to present differing perspectives on the topic being considered.
A. At a minimum, Committees shall be established as enumerated in the Bylaws.
B. Additional Program, Action and Administrative Committees may be established by the President. In general, these committees will be composed exclusively of League members. Examples of such committees include:
- Reading Committees may be appointed by the President with the approval of the Board to assist the Board by reading the Annual Meeting minutes and locally produced League publications.
- A Personnel Committee may be appointed by the Board as needed.
- A Long Range Planning Committee may be appointed with membership selected to represent a range of perspectives and include at least one Board member.
C. Subcommittees of the Finance/Development Committee
- A Treasurer's Review Committee may be appointed to review the quarterly budget comparisons with the Treasurer before they are presented to the Board. Whenever possible, the past treasurer and the past president should be appointed to this committee.
- A Budget Committee will be appointed annually to recommend a budget for the upcoming year. This committee would include the current treasurer, the President and/or President-elect, and at least one additional non-Board member.
- A Financial Advisory Committee will be appointed to monitor the investments and make recommendations for the management of the Memorial Trust Fund and may make recommendations to the Board of Directors on overall management of LWVDC funds. The committee will be composed of 5 members, including at least one past president and one past treasurer.
D. A non-League member with special expertise may be appointed to serve on a committee as a resource, but League goals and procedures should be maintained.
V. PRESIDENT ELECT
The position of President Elect is designed to allow the officeholder to be unencumbered by major responsibilities while becoming acquainted with all aspects of the organization and to encourage informed planning for the next administration. The President Elect shall be a voting member of the Board of Directors, serve as Acting President during the absence of the President, and is to be an ex-officio member with voting privileges of the Executive Committee, the Budget Committee, and a Long-Range Planning Committee should one be appointed.
VI. BUDGET AND FISCAL ITEMS
A. Proposals submitted to the Budget Committee should indicate overall plans for the coming year. When the budget is approved at the Annual Meeting, no additional approval is needed to carry it out. Major changes in plans or implementation, including over-expenditures, do require Board approval. The Treasurer has authority to pay for an expense up to $50 or 10 percent over the budget allocation, whichever is greater.
B. Since all dues are payable July 1, new members joining between:
- May 1 and December 31 will pay full annual dues for the fiscal year ending June 30 of the following calendar year
- January 1 and April 30 will pay one-half the annual dues for the fiscal year ending June 30 of the current calendar year
C. Expenses treated as contributions shall be itemized on a voucher and be accompanied either by a personal check or proof of previous payment along with the request that this amount be credited to Member Contributions.
VII. DELEGATES TO CONVENTIONS
For each LWV Convention, the slate of delegates shall be approved at the Annual Meeting; subsequent changes in the delegation will be approved by the Board.
A. State: Incoming officers and Board Members have first priority, followed by the general membership on a first come-first served basis with 2-day delegates having priority over any 1-day delegates.
B. National: The President Elect has first priority, followed by incoming Officers, Board Members, and portfolio chairs as called for by the convention agenda. If the delegation is not complete, other
committee chairs may be selected.
VIII. ACCESS TO LWV-DC MEETING SPACE, EQUIPMENT, AND MATERIALS
A. Meeting Space
1. League Committees. Groups that are official League of Women Voters of Dane County (LWVDC) committees may use the LWVDC offices for meetings. These include the Board of Directors, standing committees, program committees and ad hoc committees established by the Board. In general, all of the above committees shall consist of League members.
Committees wishing to use the LWVDC office for meetings should check with the office manager to avoid scheduling conflicts. Meeting dates and times need to be recorded on the office calendar.
2. Non-League Committees. Committees which may have some LWVDC members but are not official League committees may only use the office for meetings on an occasional basis (defined as 2-3 times a year) and only with the approval of the president. The size of a group using the LWVDC conference room for non-League meetings is limited to 12 people. This procedure applies to coalition meetings where sites are rotated among the members.
These meetings should also be cleared with the office administrator and should avoid times that might conflict with official LWVDC meetings or activities or those of the groups that sublet space from the LWVDC.
B. Supplies and Equipment. It is LWVDC policy not to allow the use of supplies or equipment for personal use by its members or for non-LWVDC purposes.
Exceptions to this policy can be approved by the President/Executive Committee on a one-at-a-time basis (no more than once or twice a year) under the following circumstances:
- Request for use shall be specific and precede granting of privilege, and be entered in equipment maintenance manual
- The person or agency making the request is part of LWV and has no other better recourse
- The person(s) who will use the equipment is(are) skilled in its use and of proven responsibility
- The project for which the equipment is to be used is fully compatible with LWVDC goals
- The project itself is not routine to the person's or agency's activities, or, if it is, request for the use of LWVDC equipment for such a project is due to a one-time emergency and will not be repeated
- Use of the equipment will in no way conflict with LWVDC needs
C. Keys. Only board members and staff shall be in possession of a key to the office for the duration of their term of office and employment. Exceptions to this policy and temporary tenure of a key can be approved by the President, PresidentElect, and Vice-Presidents, in order to facilitate access to the office outside office hours, to members:
- Holding meetings
- Working on a LWVDC-related project (off-board portfolios, election night reporting, for example
- Picking up or returning LWVDC-related material (publications, supplies, tape recorder, etc.)
The names of persons holding keys shall be recorded in the equipment maintenance manual, and show the following:
- Key given to/Door (A,B,C)/Authorized by/Date key given out/Date key returned/Comments
D. Remote access to League office computers. Any employee or board member who requests authority to remotely access the office computers must sign a security statement agreeing to the following:
- Use of a strong password to log into the computer (greater than 8 characters, using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.).
- Password will be entered manually each time a connection is initiated, not “remembered” on the home computer.
- Remote Desktop Connection will only be made from home on a wired or encrypted, private wireless network (not from a public place on a free wireless network). Home computers used for remote access should have their malware and antivirus software kept up-to-date.
- Confidential League information (e.g., Social Security numbers, birthdates, bank account numbers) will not be stored on a home computer.
- The signed agreements will be kept on file in the office.
E. LWVDC will send out local studies or program materials to non-members so long as the person requesting them will cover costs and postage.
F. The League Membership directory is for the convenience of the LWVDC. It is not to be used as a mailing list by other groups or in any way that would misrepresent League's policy of non-partisanship.
This policy shall be clearly stated on the cover of each edition of the member directory.
IX. DISCUSSION UNITS
Units meet as discussion groups to inform themselves on League program, to reach member agreement, and to participate in program making and action planning.
A. Units are asked to name Unit officers and discussion leaders from their membership
B. Each Unit shall have a goal of 10-15 paid members.
C. If a Unit desires to invite a public official or other non-League speaker to help in presentation of a program, it should get approval from the Unit Chair and an appropriate Board member.
D. A Unit may act within its municipality/district in the name of the League only when given authority by the Board to do so. If the Unit has not done a "Know Your Town" or "Know Your School" survey, it may act under a county, state, or national position provided the action is approved by the Board of LWVDC.
X. LOCAL MUNICIPALITY/DISTRICT STUDY
Members of the League who reside in one municipality/district may wish to pursue a study of local interest.
A. Adoption Procedure
1. The Unit shall submit the proposed study as a "lively issue" to be considered along with other "lively issues."
2. The Board may then recommend that the study be conducted.
B. Study Procedure
1. The study shall proceed under the direction of the Board. The Board shall approve agreement questions, review a summary of Unit responses, and approve the statement of position.
Study materials shall be provided for each local topic presented to the members. When materials have been supplied by either the state and national League, LWVDC may supplement with additional materials.
In all instances, the Board chair for Program shall be consulted and must approve selections.
A. Materials shall be recommended by the Study Committee or Program Chair. For local program options, Units may select study materials appropriate to their topics.
B. When studies are to be published locally, the Unit or committee shall coordinate production and distribution plans with appropriate Board members. These plans require Board approval.
C. Since LWVDC will underwrite the costs of production, a proposal showing estimated costs must be presented to the Budget Committee for approval and inclusion in the document to be presented to the Annual Meeting.
A search for financing from League or non-League sources is encouraged, although a plan to do so must be approved by the Board.
XII. MEMORIAL FUND
The LWVDC endeavors to treat the Memorial Fund as an endowment. Withdrawals from the Fund’s income should be no more than 4.5% annually, in order to maintain the corpus of the Fund. Bequests and donations made in memory of a League member should be consolidated on an annual basis and deposited into the Memorial Fund.
XIII. USE OF VARIOUS COMMUNICATION VEHICLES
The purpose of this policy is to develop stated policies and procedures for communicating effectively with League members, using the three methods most commonly employed: action alerts, updates, and general information vehicles used regularly.
A. Regular emails and hard-copies. Regular communication with members of the League of Women Voters of Dane County occurs primarily using the following:
1. Study materials and the Bulletin. These either are mailed hard copy or are found on the Web site with an email reminder sent during the month. Key information will be included in the Bulletin with additional information, such as Board minutes, available on the website.
2. Study materials mailed or emailed should be no longer than 12 pages (6 sheets of paper), including the cover sheet. Additional information should be put on the Web site. Those without Web access can request hard copy of the additional information.
3. Forum [LWVDC general meeting] reminder. This email will be sent either the Friday or the Monday before the forum.
4. Other reminders of League activities – highway clean-up, fundraising, etc. Every effort should be made to limit the number of duplicate emails.
B. Thank-you acknowledgements for contributions. In general, thank-you acknowledgements will be sent via email when the league has an email address for the contributor. Exceptions that will receive a hard copy letter:
- New members
- Late renewals who need a member interest sheet
- Single donations equal to or larger than $250
- Memorial contributions
- Donations by check when we do not have an email address for the donor.
Fundraising letters and the membership renewal letter will contain language similar to the following: In order to reduce paper and postage costs and make the best use of your contribution, [membership dues and] any contribution will be acknowledged via email if we have your email address. The email will meet IRS standards for documenting a contribution.
In the email acknowledgements for postal mail donations, language similar to the following will be included: “If you need a printed copy and are unable to print this email, please contact our office.”
C. Email Action Alerts. An action alert has a specific date for action, usually within a week. If it does not have a date, it is either an update or regularly scheduled information.
1. The state League and the national League have alerts that are sent to members. We should encourage our members to register for these so that we can refrain from passing them on to the membership to avoid duplication and to avoid cluttering up email inboxes. If the email comes only to the officers, it is up to the president to decide whether to send it to the membership.
2. The president must approve Action Alerts on local issues from committee chairs or committee members. The alerts must be consistent with League positions.
3. All local email alerts, whether from the League office administrator or from a committee head, should use the following format:
- The subject line should indicate what the alert is about.
- The body of the email should indicate, in order:
- What is needed (call, email, etc.)
- When it is needed
- Who is requesting it
- Rationale: one or two sentences. The rest of the information about the issue should be available either below this summary in the email or on the Web or both.
- Contact information: how to contact the pertinent elected official.
4. When a non-League group requests an action alert, the alert should be consistent with League policies. The executive committee will decide whether to send out the alert. The alert should be restructured to fit the above format.
D. Updates. If immediate action is not requested, the information is an update. Most updates should be put in the Bulletin and/or on the Web site. If several updates or the information falls between Bulletins, in the summer or in mid-winter, a short email update can be created summarizing the basic information, with the rest provided on the Web site. The format would include:
- What it’s about
- How it relates to League
- Where to find more information
E. General email practices
1. All emails from the office administrator should include a standard signature with the following information:
- League name
- Web site
2. All emails will have informative subject lines
3. Instructions for accessing the Dane County League email list will be available in case of the office administrator’s absence.
F. Notices from other groups and organizations shall be included in the Bulletin or announced at League meetings only when they pertain to League program and principles. This also applies to groups requesting time to make presentations at League meetings.
G. Letters to the Editor will be accepted for publication in the Bulletin. “Letters” must be clearly designated as personal opinion. Publication will depend upon practical considerations as to length, the number of letters, and the nature of the topic.
H. Facebook. Events sponsored by the local chapters of the following organizations may be posted on our Facebook page without prior approval by the Board, Executive Committee, or President(s): AAUW, CRANES, Common Cause, Delta Sigma Theta, NAACP, Physicians for Social Responsibility, United Nations Association, the Urban League, The Madison Institute, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Wisconsin Voices.
Action alerts, updates, news items, forum announcements, and other event reminders that are emailed to members and/or posted on our website will generally also be shared to our Facebook page, but should be modified as appropriate.
Personal contact information for individuals such as phone, address, or email will not be posted on our Facebook page without obtaining consent from the individual.
Personnel matters, including performance evaluations and recommendations for wage increases, are generally handled by the President, but may be handled by an officer designated by the President. All personnel matters relating to the performance of an employee shall be discussed only by the Executive Committee in closed session.
Holiday Policy for Office Administrator: The following days are paid holidays.
- Jan. 1
- Martin Luther King Day
- Memorial Day
- July 4
- Labor Day
These holidays are in addition to one week of paid leave in late December.
If Jan. 1, July 4, or Christmas falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a paid holiday. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, no payment is made.
Pay is for 3 hours for a specific day, based on a 15 hour work week. Thus if the holiday falls M – F, staff receive 3 hours of pay, whether or not they normally work on that weekday. Staff may choose to work 3 hours less on scheduled work days during that week.
XV. DOCUMENT RETENTION
At least one hard copy of the following documents should be retained permanently in the office, marked as “Office Copy, Do Not Remove”: Member Directory; Annual Report; Annual Meeting Materials; Bulletin; Candidates’ Answers.
At least one hard copy of the following materials should be retained for five years, marked as “Office Copy, Do Not Remove”: Grant and Award Applications, Approval Letters, and Reports; Issue Forum Study Materials.
Treasurer’s Documents: Payroll records should be retained for 7 years and then shredded; the IRS 990 form and any tax returns should be kept for 10 years and then shredded; End of Year Balance Sheets and End of Year Income and Expense Statements should be retained permanently. Shredding should be done by the Treasurer and another Board member.
A. Petitions shall be circulated at League meetings only if they are within League principles or positions and the Board has approved the petition.
B. Whenever possible, moderators for candidates' forums should be chosen from outside the local district.
C. Affiliations in coalitions are encouraged as a device for furthering the LWVDC agenda without diverting funds and personnel from LWVDC projects, providing that:
- The affiliation will further LWVDC goals and positions
- Interested members are willing to follow the coalition’s actions
- A designated representative will be responsible for informing the LWVDC Executive Committee of the coalition and keeping the group apprised of the coalition’s deliberations.
- LWVDC will engage in joint action only when the Board or Executive Committee has approved participation after reviewing the proposal for consistency with LWV positions.
Ad hoc affiliations as co-sponsors of nonpartisan, educational programs also are encourag ed as an efficient means of promoting the LWVDC agenda.