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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 16:18 
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These things are not necessarily any more sinister than your running trials or hosting workshops.


Up to a point I would agree with this but at least you know it's BYAP running the trial or the workshop so you know your getting their viewpoint. It's not always so clear in an association.

If I were in business I would be trying to start an association because it makes good business sense. There really isn't anything sinister about it in this respect.

1. It gives you some control over who gets certified and provides you with instant legitimacy(which is really more important).
2. It helps you promote your products.
3. It provides literature to educate the public at no or little expense to you.
4. You have some access to funding that you wouldn't have otherwise had (like to get speakers or handouts printed for a local show and tell which just happens to be - at your business which also happens to be where the local association meets ...). You'd be surprised at how much can be spent in a store by members after a meeting like this.
5. It has a built in group of new people that come to the association first and can be directed to your products instead of your competitors.
6. It gives you access to a marketing list of names who might be interested in buying what you have to sell.


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Perhaps I am being too optimistic but I can't have any affect on the outcome of it if I don't get involved and while it may not get off the ground over there. It is trying to start up right in my own back yard so to speak so I think I should have a look see instead of ignoring it.

As to how productive the association will be, well that will totally depend on the people who join and either make it work or don't. We won't know that for a while yet.


Nothing wrong with being optimistic and if the meeting were in my backyard I'd probably check it out but meeting the principle movers and shakers would tell me more than the meeting I think.


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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 18:59 
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I'm still a little confused about what actual benefits such an organisation will provide to members.

scotty435 wrote:
1. It gives you some control over who gets certified and provides you with instant legitimacy(which is really more important).
2. It helps you promote your products.
3. It provides literature to educate the public at no or little expense to you.
4. You have some access to funding that you wouldn't have otherwise had (like to get speakers or handouts printed for a local show and tell which just happens to be - at your business which also happens to be where the local association meets ...). You'd be surprised at how much can be spent in a store by members after a meeting like this.
5. It has a built in group of new people that come to the association first and can be directed to your products instead of your competitors.
6. It gives you access to a marketing list of names who might be interested in buying what you have to sell.

Some good points there. But let me reply to them.
1. No, I don't think it does. Since you pay to become a member. Here in the UK there have already been consumer backlashes against such "paid for" schemes. They are often the subject of TV programmes which like to mock such things which result in an instant loss of revenue, and in some cases small companies have gone under.
2. Not really. It helps promote AP as a whole.
3. Possibly... but only up to a point. A commercial AP setup will still need to provide information to local customers. Also there are too many differences around the world to rely on a single point of information. If people here in the UK started receiving information about Yabbies, Barra or Black Soldier Flies then all it would do is leave people confused. Some go by different names. Others simply don't exist in the UK.
4. Funding? I didn't read anything in the charter about providing funding. Do you think it's likely?
5. This is a possibility. But given the amount of free information provided on the 'net do you think it is likely?
6. No. A commercial AP setup has to rely on local customers. Shipping produce to far flung locations adds additional costs which would directly contravene some of the main benefits of AP grown products.

AP is not in the stage where it needs an overall "governing" body. What it needs is local support. By local I mean within the same community areas. What the charter calls "chapters". These need to be built up first then joined. A bottom up approach, rather than a top down one.

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 20:05 
There's a great post by Kellen, on the ning community.. that deserves to be posted here...

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It was mentioned by someone that the need for "lifetime trustees" is due to needing someone to have control of assets and bank accounts. Actually, an incorporated association is a "person" (legal entity) all by itself. "It" maintains control of its own assets and cash until the association is dissolved. When new executive board members are elected/appointed, signature rights on accounts and limited asset management rights (with restrictions) are granted to them. Most often, these account signing privileges are given to the president and the treasurer, while the asset controls are shared amongst the entire executive board (president, vp, treasurer and secretary usually), subject to vote. Often, the account signers are required to carry a bond, which provides the association some insurance against fraudulent activity. All activities involving assets are governed/restricted by the bylaws of the organization, and the board (a separate entity either appointed or elected) has the single tie-breaking vote in the event of a split decision. The membership base decides the overall direction via votes on proposed actions from the exec board as well as motions/proposals from the common membership that are then put up for vote. Motions/proposals are allowed at any time, and without prior notice, but typically require a "second" (an additional member publicly stating agreement with the motion/proposal) in order to proceed to a vote.



Trustees are not necessary, nor are they typical for the vast majority of associations (outside of large charity based orgs). An annual audit by a qualified accounting firm is normally performed, and the "results" are posted publicly or made available on request, for review by all members in good standing. This provides for financial transparency and fraud prevention. Many assume an audit to be costly, but for a small organization with relatively few transactions (which would most likely be the case here) it tends to be a very minimal cost.



Up until last year, I served on the executive board for a small association with about $40k in annual revenue and about $300k in balance sheet assets, for nearly a decade. I served as president for most of that time, but also as vp for a few years as well. I now serve the same organization as the chairman of the board of advisers. As an executive board member, I was responsible for a certain degree of the daily operations of the org. I was also responsible for implementing and coordinating activities and initiatives that were in line with the goals and priorities of the active membership base. The members decided the overall direction. The exec board put it into action.



Avoiding potential conflict of interest is incredibly important. The "lifetime trustee" issue seems to be a major concern to a lot of people (me included), and I can understand why. It needs to be removed in my opinion. Additionally, all organizers/founders should be allowed to be considered for positions on the advisory board, but probably should not be eligible for exec board positions, at least for the first year. Since at least 3 of the organizers own businesses that profit from providing products and/or information to aquaponics growers, it appears there is a very valid concern regarding conflict of interest. That may very well not be the intention, but perception is perception, and in order to build credibility in a budding association, this issue has to be eliminated.



An association exists to serve its members. If you want "backyard" people to sign up and be your "base", you have to cater to their wants and needs and not that of suppliers/vendors. In typical associations, suppliers/vendors seek to become "associate members" (non-voting and ineligible to serve on the exec board) so they can enjoy some networking opportunities with the membership base at some sort of level determined by the association members. If vendors want to sponsor an event, get some talk time at a conference, host a display booth and so forth, they typically pay a good sum of money for it.... according to the fee schedule outlined by the association. These fees are then used for the betterment of the association.



Just some thoughts from my own experience with associations. Hope it helps.


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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 20:31 
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That is an excellent post by kellen. I am glad you posted it here Rupe.

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 21:19 
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So I suppose one of the questions I need to ask of them is, what are the Trustees for this association? In the organization I'm in, the trustees are simply some of the member elected to go look at the books every so often and report to the membership to make sure no one is playing funny with the money. I just couldn't figure how that position would be desirable as a lifetime obligation and it doesn't hold any property.

However, the organization I'm in is also not legally allowed to directly own real property (since that could result in profit if it were sold) so they had to set up a separate corp to hold the property that the offices are in and that sounded a bit more like what they seemed to be trying to describe in the charter.

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 21:40 
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TCLynx wrote:
So I suppose one of the questions I need to ask of them is, what are the Trustees for this association?

Good point.

From the "charter":
Quote:
9.4 All Officers of The Association except the Chairman and Trustees shall serve until the
next Annual Association Conference and shall be eligible for re-election at the will of the
Conference.

Which effectively means you can never get rid of them. Oh, and also you can only vote in/out the new people if you attend the conference.
The more I look at this, the less I like it. Still not seeing the benefits to members. I know of another "association" that works like this... Scientology.

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '11, 22:38 
The "trustees" are also given a status that nobody else in the association is accorded... the right to hold multiple positions...

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9.5 No Officer of the Association, Chapter, or Branch, except the Trustees, shall serve simultaneously in more than one elected position


So a "trustee" could be the head of a chapter, and/or even a branch.. simultaneously...

But even if removed from either... would still remain a "trustee"....

Yep, you can never get rid of them... unless they die.. or resign...


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 05:57 
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DragonC wrote:
The more I look at this, the less I like it. Still not seeing the benefits to members. I know of another "association" that works like this... Scientology.


I think some of the bike clubs are also set up in a similar way. :shifty:

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 07:03 
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DragonC wrote:
I'm still a little confused about what actual benefits such an organisation will provide to members.

scotty435 wrote:
1. It gives you some control over who gets certified and provides you with instant legitimacy(which is really more important).
2. It helps you promote your products.
3. It provides literature to educate the public at no or little expense to you.
4. You have some access to funding that you wouldn't have otherwise had (like to get speakers or handouts printed for a local show and tell which just happens to be - at your business which also happens to be where the local association meets ...). You'd be surprised at how much can be spent in a store by members after a meeting like this.
5. It has a built in group of new people that come to the association first and can be directed to your products instead of your competitors.
6. It gives you access to a marketing list of names who might be interested in buying what you have to sell.

Some good points there. But let me reply to them.
1. No, I don't think it does. Since you pay to become a member. Here in the UK there have already been consumer backlashes against such "paid for" schemes. They are often the subject of TV programmes which like to mock such things which result in an instant loss of revenue, and in some cases small companies have gone under.
2. Not really. It helps promote AP as a whole.
3. Possibly... but only up to a point. A commercial AP setup will still need to provide information to local customers. Also there are too many differences around the world to rely on a single point of information. If people here in the UK started receiving information about Yabbies, Barra or Black Soldier Flies then all it would do is leave people confused. Some go by different names. Others simply don't exist in the UK.
4. Funding? I didn't read anything in the charter about providing funding. Do you think it's likely?
5. This is a possibility. But given the amount of free information provided on the 'net do you think it is likely?
6. No. A commercial AP setup has to rely on local customers. Shipping produce to far flung locations adds additional costs which would directly contravene some of the main benefits of AP grown products.

AP is not in the stage where it needs an overall "governing" body. What it needs is local support. By local I mean within the same community areas. What the charter calls "chapters". These need to be built up first then joined. A bottom up approach, rather than a top down one.


I don't think you got my point. For the common Joe, association membership has very little to offer (look back a few posts and you'll see where I stand on this). For the commercial member it has much more to offer because of marketing.

Regarding my last post, I feel the need to defend what I said, most of what I was talking about was from the perspective of a company that sells equipment to do Aquaponics, not so much one involved in selling the produce from Aquaponics.

On number one, I wasn't referring to a "paid for" scheme. If you are in charge of certifying something that usually means you know something about it and people respect you for this.

On number 2 - why would I care if AP was promoted - I've nothing to sell? I'm all for educating and helping people but not promoting.

On number 3 -
Quote:
A commercial AP setup will still need to provide information to local customers.
- Agreed, but I wasn't trying to say that you wouldn't need to do this.

On number 4 -
Quote:
Funding? I didn't read anything in the charter about providing funding. Do you think it's likely?
I wonder what they collect membership fees for?

On number 5 - It won't be the only source of information as we both know but it might be the first source of information.

Number 6 - true for a produce centered business but not as much for an equipment related business. Much of the benefit comes at the local chapter level but people might buy items like T-shirts, caps, posters, fish feeders, timers, test kits etc. by mail.

I'm for a group that provides an opportunity to meet people with similar interests without a lot of hype and hoopla. If there are dues fine but lets agree to put them toward the beer bill. :cheers:


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 07:11 
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Dufflight wrote:
DragonC wrote:
The more I look at this, the less I like it. Still not seeing the benefits to members. I know of another "association" that works like this... Scientology.


I think some of the bike clubs are also set up in a similar way. :shifty:


But the only way you can leave is death by members or by others :P

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 07:16 
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:evil3: good one zman.


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 07:57 
I've become confused by some of the discussion on the ning community though... particularly that surrounding voting allocations... and/or the role of "suppliers" in the association...

And posted this...


Quote:
From my reading of the charter...


At any "Association" conference...

During the open session... anyone who registers can attend, but cannot speak or vote...

With the exception of branch delegates, chapter delegates, and members of the Board of Governors... presumably.. although not specified.. with an equal vote..


During the closed session... the same appears to be the case...


At any "Chapter" conference... the same scenario appears to be implied under 7.2... ""The Chapter shall be governed by the Bylaws of this charter..."


Which suggests that at any "Chapter Conference" of branch members... the same rules apply... while anyone who is a paid up member may attend... only the "Branch Delegates" can speak and vote... presumably on an equal vote basis...


I suspect the intention for any weighted votes... would be confined to the membership of the actual branchs... although this isn't specifically stipulated...


The only other interpretation of the "weighted" voting allocations... would be to imply the any particular "elected" delegate.. at any level... who happened to be a "commercial grower" or "supplier"... would hold 4 times the voting rights, and influence of anyone that was merely a "backyarder"... even if that "backyarder" was an actual elected delegate...


If this is the case.. then even a "backyarder" elected at either Branch, Chapter or even Board of Governors executive level.. would find themselves out weighted/voted... at all levels of the association...


In reality... it would probably be doubtful if any "backyarder" would ever acheive any elective role.... even possibly at "branch" level...


Which would seem contrary to the intention of Chapter 1, Article 5.1 .. which states that the "branch" is "the basic and most important unit of the Association"...



If the branch is the "basic and most important unit of the Association".... and the average "backyarder" has only a singular vote, and limited prospects of either an elective role, or influence on basic direction of the Branch...


Then as many are asking... what's in it for them... what do they get for their membership??


If the intention of the Association is to merely represent the role or objectives of "commercial growers" and "industry suppliers"....


Then form an "industry association" accordingly... and start a US Chapter only.... because everywhere else in the world at the moment just wont have the numbers to gain any level of representation or influence... other than at Chapter level (to some extent).. or Executive level.. but only if they're a "commercial" member....


Sorry.. but this appears to be a bit messy... and I'll happily change my mind if someone can clarify and simply state otherwise...


And it is becoming seen by more and more people, mainly backyarders... as merely a growers, or suppliers association... people with vested commercial interests.. rightly or wrongly...


And that's where the perceptions of "vested interests" are arising...


So perhaps someone can tell me.. and those watching...


At what level does a "commercial" member have a weighted 4 votes...


Why should a "supplier" ... at any level... have any, or more voting rights than an ordinary member...


If the owner of a commercial operation... grower or supplier.. wishes to engage in determining the improvement and/or advancement of aquaponics... for all...


Why can they not do so as an "individual" member... and register their business as a non voting "associate" member???

Such "associate" members can still be provided with "commercial" opportunities through sponserships of conferences, advertising opportunites... or even "trade" displays attached to any conference


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 08:21 
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Great questions Rupert!

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 15:58 
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scotty435 wrote:
I don't think you got my point. For the common Joe, association membership has very little to offer (look back a few posts and you'll see where I stand on this). For the commercial member it has much more to offer because of marketing.

Regarding my last post, I feel the need to defend what I said, most of what I was talking about was from the perspective of a company that sells equipment to do Aquaponics, not so much one involved in selling the produce from Aquaponics.

My bad. I was coming at this from the point of view of a produce producer. Yes, you are quite correct.
Quote:
I wonder what they collect membership fees for?
Indeed.
Quote:
I'm for a group that provides an opportunity to meet people with similar interests without a lot of hype and hoopla. If there are dues fine but lets agree to put them toward the beer bill. :cheers:

But we need an actual association to do this? Next round is mine... when you're next in the UK. :D

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '11, 16:53 
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Easy reason for collecting membership.

1000 members @ $45 per member = $45000
5000 members @ $45 per members = :cheers: :bootyshake:

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