Sub-Units: Proposal Three


Watch the webinar recording for Sub-Units and their Relationship to One Another.

We encourage you to use the PowerPoint presented at the webinar and the Structure Modernization Discussion Guide to help facilitate conversations in your networks.  

Make grassroots activism easier by allowing chapters to keep voting delegates but not be IRS entities

  • Streamlined version of Rhode Island NOW model
  • Not mandatory – by agreement only
  • State + participating chapters agree on annual action agenda
  • Chapters implement the action agenda at grassroots level
  • State manages finances, bookkeeping & regulatory compliance for participating chapters.

Posting Instructions

1. If you want to share your thoughts on a proposal (remember these are just concepts, the actual language will be developed later), write your reply in the text box bellow the words Leave Reply, and in the box “Enter your comment here…”


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5. Be creative and don’t be afraid to say what you think! It is vital that you share your opinions — in order to create the best proposals possible we need to know what all of the members think! This site is for YOU to have your voices heard.


18 thoughts on “Sub-Units: Proposal Three

  1. PA NOW likes this option because it offers the most flexibility for each state and their chapters to create the situation that works best for them. As long as it is not mandatory and chapters have the option to remain independent we think this is a good solution to many problems.


  2. Marian Bradley, NW Regional Director, Montana NOW

    I believe completely that we need to handle at large delegates exactly the same way we handle chapter delegates. For an organization that preaches equality, we are not treating all our members equally. This needs to change immediately.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gay E. Bruhn, IL and MD
    Currently at large delegates are elected. I think this could be changed so that it works the same way it does for chapters.


  4. I recall that, during the webinar, Terry mentioned that there is a process in place for at-large members to elect delegates to national conferences and conventions. But she also stated that they “aren’t doing this”.
    Sue’s comment above makes me think that this needs looking into. What is that process? Why isn’t it being used?


  5. I just want to clarify that being at large does not equate with a desire to be inactive. Two of us in our state capital are very active. We achieve our visibility by bringing our NOW rounds to coalition demonstrations and writing letters to newspaper editors as NOW members after running them by our state council, of which we are two of the seven members.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bonnie Shapiro, NNJ NOW

    As I keep thinking this over, I am more worried, as I said in the Proposal 4 discussion with the other few people that are in these discussions, that Three will lead to Four all too quickly.

    If we want a cohesive message then we need to have some activity that people can see, rather than intuit, vis a vis Stop The Patriarchy. We are very much a back seat driver. We know what should be done, but we do not really, as a National group, do that much that is visible. So of course people don’t know what we do. The answer is not to get rid of the chapters. My chapter was dormant for awhile and then we had an abortion clinic issue and dealt with it and in 2014 got the first buffer zone any NOW chapter ever got in NJ. Who would have thought? Had we been folded into the state it never would have happened. Yet our members do not care about webinars or discussing webinars at a webinar site. They do not have the time. Does that mean they should not exist as chapter members? There are less than a dozen people discussing any of this, and most members do not even know it is going on.

    It is not necessary to get rid of the chapters to have a cohesive message. We need to be reaching out to colleges and we need to be talking to our neighbors. We need to be doing. We need to be in coalitions.

    At-large members should have their own delegates. All at large members in a state should be asked by National who wants to go to the convention and be a delegate. There can be rules set up for the ones who say they do. These should be uniform. On the other hand, tho that sounds far, in areas like mine, where we have a chapter of 200 that actually does do things, why are there just as many at-large members? It means to me that most of them want to pay dues and be left alone.


  7. By “big states”, I’m not sure if you mean population, membership, or area. We have a situation in Missouri that I fervently hope is unique. We cannot identify any activism going on outside of the state council, as no local chapter reports are being sent to us. We are down to less than a handful of local chapters as well. Our state council, made up only of members of one local chapter & at-large members, used to travel to different areas of the state for our meetings, but getting zero participation, we have ceased that practice.
    Also, in a largely rural state like ours, it is essential that at-large members, who are some of our most active, not be prevented from voting at the national conference for lack of delegate status.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like this, as long as it remains an option, and does not become mandatory. Not all chapters, however small, may want to do this. But those who do not want to deal with the IRS etc.may find it useful. I assume that if a “task force” takes on a particular project it would request funds from the state and present a budget.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sue, I totally agree. Context: I grew up in Northwest Missouri, where the population is so low that I think there’s one rep to the *State* House for like 4 counties. I’m now in NY State, where we have a mix of very active chapters and many smaller/less active chapters, across a large geographic area (it can take 5 hours for some of our members to travel to the NY state capital in Albany, which is similar to the travel time between my hometown and Jefferson City). So I completely agree that your question is both legit and important.

      The only thing that makes sense to me is for each chapter to decide for itself whether it wants to be a formal or informal chapter.

      When it comes to the impact on the State structure, it totally bears thinking through multiple scenarios, so let me take a first cut at it. I’m guessing:
      Scenario 1: Where there is a mix of informal and full-blown Chapters within a state, I imagine the full-blown chapters would end up taking on State responsibilities. Would love to hear from VA/RI on how this went for them.
      Scenario 2: But–what if a state ends up with *only* informal Chapters within it? Do we think that brings us into the Proposal 4 model in that state? If so….as Bonnie Shapiro from NNJ NOW noted in the Proposal 4 thread, only the state would get the rebates and the state would make the decisions. And as Theresa from Rockland County NOW asked on the Proposal 4 thread, where does the State leadership come from in this case?
      I wish I had good answers…..thoughts, anyone?

      In addition, I do think it’s key that truly active members be able to vote at National Conventions, in order to retain our bottom-up structure. But how do we define “truly active”, and who makes that judgment on the member? My understanding is that at present, the Chapter President decides (since she has to sign the delegate form). I suppose that, in the current model, the availability of the delegate role encourages at-large members to join up with a Chapter, which provides additional energy and rebate funds to the Chapter, yes? I guess in Scenario 2, the State leadership would decide, based on state-defined criteria?

      This is just a first cut….other thoughts/perspectives? Thanks to all for the thoughtful approaches being taken.

      Judi Polson


  8. Theresa Bergen, Rokland NOW NY
    I really don’t understand what a State organization or State Council is if not a group of chapters. Where dose State leadership come from and to whom do they answer if there are no financially independent chapters. I would really the the people who are proposing #3 and 4 to give me some idea of there thinking. In addition VA was mentioned as a big state with a well functioning State/Chapter arrangement in place. I would very much like to here from big states as to not only how they are doing but what they are doing. Also how and where do you meet that every feels they can get to. Right now I feel like this proposal needs a lot of fleshing out.


  9. My thoughts here are, I still like the independent chapters in the states. I don’t like the thought of being called “Task Groups or an Action Groups”. I think the word “Chapter” lends an organized perception of our organization. With that said, I too would be concerned about being able to immediately access funds for local needs when the “chapter” board votes on them too. I am very much of the mind with Bonnie Shapiro about not loosing the “heart & soul” of NOW and what NOW has come to be known for.

    I am struggling with the appearance of non-cohesiveness too. I find myself when talking about our new chapter struggling to explain what NOW does today, what the state chapter does for the local chapter and what the local chapter would impact in our city. I feel there needs to be parts of Concept 2 & 3 merged.

    I can’t speak to the administrative issues and I personally have yet to experience them with this new chapter. However, with so much that is done online these days, I am missing this massive burden that many are speaking of. Please don’t slam me regarding that; we are just getting off the ground again here in San Diego. Thank you.


  10. Bonnie Shapiro, NNJ NOW

    I think both comments are very thought provoking. I am not against proposal three if individual chapters like mine have access to our funds and to the dues that people pay precisely because they wish to be in a local chapter and not just be at-large members ( who mostly do not want to interact at meetings, have responsibilities, etc and just want to pay dues). Without chapters as the heart and soul of NOW, NOW as we know and love it is gone. So, if some or many chapters wish to be incorporated into the State, that should be facilitated if the remainder of the chapters can continue on as they are doing now. I say all this as president of what is a “small” chapter of 200+ as Jodi wanted to weigh in.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Judi Polson, NOW-NYC:

    As I mentioned on the call, I like this option very much. It sounds like:
    * It would enable Chapters to focus on actual organizing / actions rather than on administration, if they choose.
    * To move up in NOW leadership, a person would have to become skilled in, and successfully be responsible for, financial and administrative tasks–the less-fun tasks that are essential to the long-term of the organization.
    * We’d need to find a way for the members of the…”non-participating Chapters”, perhaps, would be the phrase?….to be protected from individual liability for the actions of the organization, if those Chapters were not incorporated. At least, I think so…need a lawyer’s view on this!
    * We very much need people from small Chapters to provide their perspective on this option.


  12. …and what if the local chapters do no activism? The state ends up doing all the activism AND the paperwork!
    I would like to abandon the model using delegates. Some of our strongest activists & national conference attendees are at-large members without a local chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. At a chapter meeting, when discussing this proposal, we wondered how chapters would have access to funds if they agreed to become informal entities and therefore not get rebates.

    While I like proposal 3, I can see that as a potential obstacle. I would love it if folks would help me generate different ideas on how informal chapters could fund their work without rebates. Must they necessarily be dependent on the state to share funds with them? What if the state doesn’t want to? I will keep thinking about this but I would love others to help think of ideas to solve this.


  14. I heard a lot of people on the webinar express that they like this idea. That is exciting. DC NOW merged chapter and state informally, just like RI. We pool money. We elect identical leadership in chapter and state. We would love to be able to drop the IRS status of the chapter and just have the state maintain IRS status. We only keep the chapter around because national bylaws require it and because we want delegates at NOW elections. We understand that other states that have small geography – e.g. DC, RI – or small population – e.g. MT – would like to be able to do this. It would cut the administrative burden at least in half. That is important because a great deal of our time is spent on administrative tasks. That is time not spent advocating on issues, running campaigns, and taking action. And advocacy, campaigns, and actions is what we exist for and how we attract new members and therefore funding. I would love it if we decided to assign delegates not based on chapter membership. It would ease these chapter/state barrier issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also like this option. Here in Montana we have a state organization but no chapters because of our population and large area size. Because all our members are at large, we do not have much representation at conference. We have actually been considering forming a “local” chapter just to have delegate slots for conference. We actually then use almost a “task force” structure for some issues and it allows our members to work in coalition.

      Liked by 1 person

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