LWVPX 501(c) status: Membership vote about consolidation

Vote on the future of your League

This summer, LWVPDX is going to make a decision about an important administrative and legal dilemma, and members will have a say.

The issue is whether to change our organizational 501(c) status. We now are structured as two separate tax-exempt entities: a membership organization that is a 501(c)4, and an education fund that is a 501(c)3. The proposed change would make the membership organization a 501(c)3. There would also be a 501(c)4, which would include our endowment and would be dormant, unless the 501(c)4 fund needed to be activated for a specific advocacy project that didn’t fit the requirements of a 501(c)3. 

Background

The LWVPDX Board considered the change because we now have two boards, two budgets, two sets of minutes, two sets of accounting and reporting, and the need to reconcile when, for example, the two entities split the rent. And, having the membership organization as a 501(c)3 could open the door to more grants and donations than we currently qualify for.

A committee of five members – three on the board and two off-board – met regularly through the fall, winter, and spring to research the question. Their research and interviews with experts led them to make the proposal that the board considered in April. The committee produced a report for members to read and understand their proposal about consolidation. The committee’s report is available at this link.

The board voted 10 to 4 in April to make the change, which would require an update to our bylaws; any bylaws changes require approval by 2/3 of the voting members. Some dissenting board members want the membership to vote against the proposed change. 

Perspectives from both sides

The arguments for and against making the change have been shared widely with the membership and are linked below. 

Arguments in Favor

Arguments in Opposition 

At the Annual Membership Meeting in May, members heard from Pamela Clark and Debbie Aiona, who summarized the arguments for each side. Pamela led the board-appointed 501(c) Committee, which spent last September to this March researching, interviewing, and writing a report on this matter. Debbie is our long-time Action Chair. 

How members can take part

The process for deciding this matter will be as follows.

Discussion by Members

Two meetings will be held via Zoom and are open to any member who wants to attend. These meetings are hosted by Discussion Units 3 and 4. 

  • August 15 at 1 p.m.
  • August 26 at 5:30 p.m.

 There was an informational meeting on May 14 as well. It featured two experts: one a retired accountant who advises LWVUS on nonprofit matters, and the other an attorney whose nonprofit helps other nonprofit organizations navigate the legal issues surrounding nonprofit status. A recording of that meeting is available at this link (passcode: v?^7Uw+*)

Vote via Google Poll

Voting will be open from August 15 to September 7, and members may vote at any time during this period. We will send a poll link out prior to August 15. The voting options will be:

  • YES =  to accept the recommendation of our 501(c) Committee, reorganize our Portland League structure, and consolidate our activities, including administration and membership, into one 501(c)3 organization and maintain an inactive (or dormant) 501(c)4 entity to hold the Endowment Fund in the event that future conditions warrant lobbying expenditures in excess of what our 501(c)3 can spend.
  • NO = to keep our organizational current structure as it is.

Board member Ryann Enger will tabulate the vote results on September 7, and we will announce the results.

This is your chance to make a choice that affects how our organization conducts itself. Thank you for your participation.