Membership review: progress and next steps

The Council of Inclusion International met the first week of March to move forward several proposals related to the membership review.

Through interviews conducted in each region by Richard Bennett, we have a good indication that the membership of Inclusion International has general agreement on the Statement of Unity and on the Membership Proposition. 

There is also general agreement that we should be strengthening and broadening our membership with families and self-advocates at the center of our global movement.  (see powerpoint from Richard Bennett)

The work of the Council over two days focused on consideration of several important questions:

Criteria and processes for membership

Based on feedback from current members, three membership categories are being considered:

  • Family based and self-advocacy organizations/groups with voting rights;
  • “other” organizations and groups that sign on to and work towards the Statement of Unity (non-voting) and;
  • individual members without voting rights.

Building on the general agreement that family based organizations/groups and self-advocacy organizations/groups should retain the central leadership of Inclusion International, the Council considered how we might verify whether a group is “family based” or whether it is a “self-Advocacy” group.  Regarding “other” organizations or groups who may become non-voting members of the network, Council likewise discussed how to determine if the organization or group was in line with the Statement of Unity.  For individual memberships (non-voting) it was determined that a process for signing up to the Statement of Unity would be required.

Next Steps: a small working group of Council will develop a proposal for the specific criteria and process of accepting members.  (See Chart and timeline)

Voting Rights

Within the general category of members who would be eligible to vote there are significant questions about representation (national vs. local groups, coalitions etc.).  In each country there are unique relationships between our existing member or members and potential new members.  This requires consideration of  alternative models of voting:

  1. one member = one vote or
  2. one country = one vote or
  3. weighted voting based on the size/representation of an organization.

While a voting structure that gave all members an equal vote would simplify the system and incentivize new members to join, some of our current larger national members would argue this would erode their influence and their legitimacy as the national voice of people with intellectual disabilities and families in their countries.  In many countries this would not be an issue but for those where it is, a one member = one vote process would be a “non-starter” .  Council discussed how to create a weighted voting system that reflects the geographic (countries) representation and the organizational/group representation of people with intellectual disabilities and families.

Next Steps: the Officers will seek technical support in developing models for weighted voting schemes to be used as a basis for consultation with regions and members.   (see Chart and timeline)

Moving to a new Fee structure

Based on the membership categories proposed (Full Members with voting rights; network members with non-voting rights and individual members (non-voting) an “interim fee structure” for new members was proposed and discussed.  This fee structure would apply only to new members for a fixed transition period as a way to encourage and grow membership with a longer term objective of reducing the fee burden on existing large fee paying members.

Next Steps: The Officers will further develop financial projections based on the proposed interim fee structure and propose options for consideration by the membership (see attached Chart and timeline)

Governance

While there was little time for Council to discuss the current structure of II Council nor how and by whom decisions are made within the network, these are critical issues for consideration as they speak to each of the other discussions about voting; elections and policy setting of the global network.

In terms of the overall timeline, the Council would like to have the next phase of proposals available for consultation with the membership by the end of 2015 and to use 2016 to consult with regions and members in order to have concrete proposals for ratification at the General Assembly in 2016.

If you have any questions about the membership review please let myself or Raquel Gonzalez r.gonzalez@nullinclusion-international.org know. Thank you for all your input and contributions to this process of strengthening our global network.

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