Dear members of BirdLife Port Natal,
Please find attached a covering letter from Shireen Gould, membership manager at BLSA, as well as a new Membership Policy Document that has been drawn up by a committee appointed by the BLSA Council.
Please read these through carefully.
As Membership Secretary for your club, I have forwarded some comments to BLSA on both the letter and the Policy Document which are copied below. Please read them as well.
As BirdLife Port Natal is one of the bigger bird clubs in the country, my own personal feeling as Membership Secretary is that I am in favour of the status quo being retained ie Option 1 Full Affiliation. If we choose Option 2, someone will have to manage the entire membership of the club, and in practical terms having a volunteer do this is really not feasible nor is it fair. In addition office equipment will have to be purchased etc. It is a fact that members of our club are growing older so finding someone for the task will not be easy. If we employ someone to do the job, we then encounter South Africa’s numerous labour laws.
For ease of knowing what members are thinking, I have put one question at the end of this email document – and would be grateful if you could complete it and return to me for collation as soon as possible.
Thanks and kind regards
Dear Shireen and all,
I note from your covering letter re the above document that you want a decision on the preferred membership option for our club by 31 July.
This is not possible for BirdLife Port Natal. Firstly, I read the March Council minutes which first mentioned these changes, but we have only received these documents now in July, giving us very little time to consult with our members, who after all are the ones who will be mainly affected by our decision. Our committee does not believe that we have the right to make this decision until proper consultation has been done with all our members.
But secondly and more importantly, BirdLife Port Natal has a Constitution to which we adhere. That Constitution states very clearly in Section 2 our status and affiliation, and in Section 7 our membership, what the present status for members is. The committee of BLPN believes therefore that after due consultation with our members, and if the option of partial affiliation is chosen by the members, we would have to pass at an AGM the changes envisaged in your email and document them in a revised Constitution. We do not yet know what the majority of our members would want, and with nearly 400 members in our club, this process of discussion will certainly take longer than 31 July. Even if we receive many responses by that date, I would like to remind you that the work we do for the club is as volunteers, which is time limiting as well, for our response to be prepared. Our AGM is held in February each year, and that is where ratification of any changes to the membership status would have to be done. There is a further problem in that we have been requested to hold on making any changes to our own Constitution until the BLSA revised Constitution has been accepted by SARS. More than two years have now elapsed since the revised Constitution was passed by the membership at the BLSA AGM, but we are hamstrung if we cannot make the necessary changes to our Constitutions until the BLSA has been accepted.
As I am unable to comment within the PDF documents you sent to us to Word, I am commenting below on them.
Letter from Shireen Gould
Paragraph 1 : I would like to know which clubs had representatives on the committee to draft the membership policy document.
Option 2 : Partial Affiliation
a. How much is the annual affiliation fee? The same as in the membership costs at the moment, or will another figure be arrived at?
b. What exactly does “receive support from BirdLife South Africa” mean in practical terms?
c. “Existing members of these clubs …” – please clarify. Does this mean that the new members will be the only ones affected, and the old members will retain the status quo?
Membership Policy Document
Membership categories, page 2. Indirect membership – after the second sentence, there should read the following – Bird club fees are remunerated to the bird club for which the member has paid on a monthly basis, and a monthly form specifying these payments and the total thereof are sent to the relevant bird club.
Definition of membership, page 3. Where does this leave family members? How are they defined?
Further to the communication from BirdLife Midlands below :
We do have two questions and one comment –
1. What is the difference between a Life Member and an Honorary Member? We see that an Honorary Member would be given Life Membership as a matter of course. What does the Life Member receive?
BirdLife Port Natal would also like an answer to this question. We have some Life Members of BLSA on our membership list, but owing to the many changes that have occurred in the record-keeping at BLSA, their status seems to have been lost. What should be done about them?
Secondly BLPN honours certain members with honorary life membership of our club, and then pays those members’ fees directly. BLSA is requested to send the invoices to BLPN rather than directly to the member. Life membership therefore has two different meanings – that for BLSA and that for the club. This needs to be clarified.
Some members pay for life membership, others have the status of ‘honorary’ given to them. Perhaps this difference needs to be clarified.
2. How does the facility work for members to join for 1 – 3 years in advance with the appropriate fees being paid at the beginning of the relevant period?? Do they pay once off and are not affected by the annual increase in fees during this period? Can any member elect to do this at any time? And are the number of periods limited?
3. A comment that refers to ( The Membership Division sends an invoice to the member via post or email three weeks before the member’s renewal date) – we feel that the time of 3 weeks before the renewal date is too short as the post will take much longer and members could also be away and they will receive their notice too late. We suggest that this should be 6-8 weeks before the date. BLPN supports this.
The most important issue remains consultation with our members, and if the majority elect the partial affiliation option, then this will have to be ratified at an AGM of our club.
Chair & Membership Secretary of BirdLife Port Natal