Dues-Deposit Societies

A safety valve for explosive political battles in membership organizations

Kevin Langdon


Most of the membership organizations I'm familiar with, and especially (for some reason ;-) ) the high-IQ societies, seem to get into bitter, and often prolonged, disputes every few years. Things get ugly and highly polarized, but neither side will let go of its grip on the society. What is a society? It's a name, a membership, and a treasury (possibly including non-monetary assets). Here's an idea for a practical approach to the periodic schisms in such organizations.

Instead of paying dues, members would deposit funds in individual accounts with the society, which would be decremented for each member's proportional share of the costs of publication of the journal and other expenses. This would be easy to do with a little programming. There would be no society treasury at all apart from these accounts. All members' accounts would be decremented when each issue of the journal was published and quarterly for other expenses. When a member's account dropped below a certain amount, the Treasurer would remind him to make another deposit. Any member could resign at
any time and get his deposited funds back.

When there were fundamental disagreements, the parties could go their separate ways much more easily. Those who did not care to associate with one another could form their own groups from the former one, taking their dues-deposits with them. In case of a split, any faction not claiming 2/3 of the original membership would have to choose a new name.

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