by Ray Newkirk
“HMRRC is run like a business!” Is that a compliment – or a complaint?
I’ve heard it both ways. The club members who express the latter opinion have multiple arrows in their quivers. “There’s too much formality.” “There’s too much emphasis on profitability for some events.” “Race directors have to submit budgets and document expenses.” “We were much more congenial and free-wheeling back in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
I was around in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The free-wheeling observation is correct (not so sure about the congeniality). And that free-wheeling operation gave rise to an embezzlement of club funds. Yes, we recovered the money, but we also realized the need for new procedures to avoid a repeat occurrence.
That need hasn’t changed. Before my retirement, I was the CEO of a reasonably-sized business. It’s no surprise, then, that I fall into the camp of folks who appreciate the fact that HMRRC has appropriate safeguards and procedures. That we are, in short, business-like. More to the point, I don’t think we have a choice. Here’s why.
First, HMRRC is a reasonably large undertaking. The club now has significant financial resources (more on that later), a large membership with diverse running interests, almost 30 events that it sponsors each year, and several non-race-related programs that it supports (more on that later, too). Not too long ago, we also had five different accounting systems and 11 different bank accounts. While we always had an annual budget, creating that document was based as much on conjecture as on hard information.
Over the past few years, we’ve implemented a number of reforms to improve our organizational and financial management. We’ve adopted new bylaws (available at https://hmrrc.com/application/files/3714/5202/2743/By_Laws_Final__11-13-15.pdf), implemented a club-wide accounting system, consolidated our bank accounts, formulated policies to protect our resources, and taken the initial steps toward having a full audit. These steps are consistent with what an organization of our size and interests require.
Second, we’re required to operate like a business. HMRRC is a not-for-profit under New York State law and a charitable organization (i.e., 501(c)(3) organization) under the federal tax law. As such, we need to satisfy certain requirements imposed by the New York State Charities Bureau and the IRS. These requirements are spelled out at the NYS Charities Bureau website (www.charitiesnys.com). The bigger the organization, the more stringent the requirements. I don’t expect everyone to charge off to the Attorney General’s website to gain a fuller understanding of what’s required like the club’s officers have.
Does operating like a business mean that HMRRC is closed to change and input from members? Not at all. Club meetings (7:30 pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Point of Woods community room) are open to everyone. We may be business-like, but we’re fully transparent. We welcome your participation.
Now, about those club resources and our non-race-related programs. Over the next few months, I plan to elaborate on those topics. Members should know their club – and be active in its operation. Hopefully, some of the information I will provide well spur you to take an increasing role.