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Bylaws and tradition

We’ve been working on setting up Bay Area Sacred Harp as an unincorporated association; up until now, money for conventions and all-day singings got ran through checking accounts of an individual member of BASH, which is not an ideal situation for anyone. California state law allows for unincorporated associations — an easy and cheap way to set up a group entity that legally can have a bank account.

I was one of the people who helped draft the bylaws. We tried to balance the traditions of Sacred Harp singings against the need for fiscal and organizational protection. So, for example, most Sacred Harp business meetings take place during an all-day singing or convention, and everyone present is automatically a member. But what do you do if the organization needs to hold a special business meeting in between annual conventions? — an unlikely occurrence, but a possibility that should be allowed for. And how can you provide at least some protection from the possibility that unscrupulous people could take over control of the organization? — also unlikely but such takeovers have happened to other too-trusting nonprofits. I’m not sure we got the balance just right, but I do feel that managed to favor tradition to some extent over other considerations.

(Draft bylaws are online at the BASH Web site.)