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ACBL Dues Revenue Flow: Bad for Recruitment

Setting the background:

As a 45-year member of the ACBL, like others, I desire to see the league improve. At some point, after years of watching the ACBL BOD harm Bridge by continually ignoring sound advice— usually for political reasons — any individual member has a personal decision to make — do you risk losing effectiveness by going public with criticism — or do you continue to try to work privately — hoping the League actually does improve? For me personally, the tipping point in that personal evaluation is when you believe that such great harm is headed toward the League — as to suggest public criticism — is worth the possibility of losing  personal effectiveness — in an attempt to limit or reverse damage to the League.

Hopefully, having made the decision to publicly criticize the League, i can be both correct in my criticism and reasonable in my presentation. There is no avoiding criticizing the volunteers. I believe I have the best interest of the ACBL at heart, hope I am right. I am not criticizing particular politicians, but rather the process. 

How revenue from ACBL dues flows:

In the ACBL when a club or teacher recruits a new member -- the dues are collected and forwarded directly to ACBL Headquarters. The originating teacher or club may participate in the revenue only through receiving a one time small bonus every 100 members, and perhaps a smaller bonus every 25. The ACBL pays nothing to the United States Bridge Federation and a small amount to the WBF. (Or maybe recently, a small amount to the USBF and nothing to the WBF, its confusing at the moment.)

How revenue from dues paid in Europe flow: 

In Europe, you join your local club and a small amount goes to the National Governing Organization, a small amount goes to the European Bridge League, and a smaller amount to the World Bridge Federation. The originating club keeps at least %25. (Someone with knowledge of Europe greater than mine, please amplify). However, as an example, in the UK, a member of the English Bridge Union  a club may choose to be an "unaffilliated clubr." Again, anyone who can amplify this UK system, please comment. I do ask of the ACBL, do you want Bridge clubs here to start a category called "unaffiliated club?" [this paragraph edited to replace "unaffiliated member" which was in error, with "unaffiliated club", which is correct. Thanks Richard Fleet, and others.]

Let's Change the revenue flow and send money to the club or teacher who originated the member!

This is a sound economic idea, the teacher or club will then be motivated to repeat the behavior which led to the recruitment or retention of members to protect their future commission. Oops, won't pass political muster before the ACBL BOD. Why not? Because ACBL headquarters is currently sending the money that belongs to the originating club or teacher to the Unit instead! How is that you say? Reach Chapter III Section A: Units, in the ACBL Codification which reads:

  • 2.3.5 Units will receive 11% of full dues payments and Life Master Service fees paid by their members.

To put the pieces together of why the ACBL BOD will not change the revenue flow, consider that ONLY Unit Board Members vote for ACBL BOD Members. Right, the ACBL BOD will not take money from the Units and give it to the originating teacher or club -- because the Unit board members vote for the ACBL BOD.

Let's require the Units to spend the 11% received on membership recruitment and retention!

Uh oh, that means the ACBL BOD forces the Unit to do something with their Unit funds, and then the Board member asks the same Unit Member to vote for him in the next election! Again, fails politically.

Let's force a change through the Board of Governors as provided for under the by-laws of the organization!

Won't work politically, surprise! The Board of Governors are elected  by the ACBL Unit board members [thanks for correcting my error, Gretchen Smith], and said elected members are mostly present and past unit board members. If this hurdle were surpassed, the process to force change in the by laws works very loosely like this:

  1. Majority of the Board of Governors petition the Board of Directors for change to the by-laws. 
  2. ACBL Board rejects BOG petition by simple majority
  3. A supra majority of the Board of Governors is then required to require the Board of Directors to reconsider the by laws change
  4. Upon rehearing by the Board of Directors, the once failed petition requires 75% of the Board of Directors vote to pass on second hearing. 

I think I am slightly misrepresenting the above process, as i reproduced it from memory; but you get the point, the Board Governors, elected by their Unit Board, (no contested elections) and mostly unit and district board members themselves. will never really clear the artificially high voting thresholds represented by the voting requirements as provided four under the By Laws. Change is not politically possible under the current system. [Al;so edited after Gretchen Smith's correction]

What's left? Is there no solution?

If you can show a pattern and practice of violation of the by-laws by the Board of Directors, then a court will sort of place the organization in quasi receivership -- while the court reviews and approves the process and procedures of the League. This will be very expensive and not easy, but is possible. 

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