CHAPTER XI - HOSTING A BVA NATIONAL CONVENTION

 

Section 1. Introduction

 

A. A BVA National Convention is more than just a time for old friends to gather for some socializing. Of course, getting together is definitely a big part of a convention, but a National Convention is essential to the continued existence of the Association. The National Bylaws call for an annual meeting of the membership to approve actions of the National Board of Directors and to discuss and adopt resolutions to further ensure that all blinded veterans continue to receive the best medical care, rehabilitative training, the necessary prosthetic aids through the Department of Veteran Affairs and other benefits to which they may be entitled.

B. The role the regional group plays in a BVA National Convention is vital to the success of the conference. As the host, a regional group is directly participating in the business of the Association.

It is the regional group members that know most about the local area and are able to organize local outings and events. The National Office works in close collaboration with the regional group in all phases of the planning.

C. This chapter is designed to assist a regional group interested in hosting a convention to understand all the requirements. Although this chapter may have overlooked some aspect of hosting a convention, it is as complete as possible, and hopefully will provide the regional group with an understanding and a plan to follow.

D. Hosting a BVA National Convention requires much hard work and time because it encompasses so many different facets, but it can also be extremely rewarding. As an organization, the BVA can only be as good as its parts, and hosting a convention gives the regional group an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the entire membership of the Association.

Section 2. The Call for a National Convention (Article IX, Sections 1&3 )

 

A. Section 1 of Article IX of the BVA National Bylaws requires the Association to have an annual meeting of the membership for the purpose of doing the business of the Association and to deal with issues relating to the health, welfare, and benefit of blinded veterans. This annual meeting is known as the BVA "National Convention."


B. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 3a of Article IX of the National Bylaws , the members are informed of an impending National Convention by the National Convention pre-registration letter mailed from BVA National Office. The letter serves as the official notice of the annual meeting. The announcement letter must be mailed "to each Member and Associate Member in good standing and each BVA Regional Group in good standing no earlier than one hundred (100) days nor later than seventy-five (75) days before the date of the Convention," and "such notice shall contain the name of the city, the address in such city where the Convention shall be held, and the days and dates of the Convention, and shall include instruction for obtaining the Official BVA National Headquarters Proxy Form."


C. The National Office is also required to give notice of the National Convention notice "in the official publication of the Blinded Veterans Association for at least two (2) issues prior to the date of holding of such Convention."

Section 3. Bidding for a National Convention (Article IX, Sections 7 & 8 )


A. Bids to host future National Conventions are entertained by the Chairman of the second business session meeting of the Convention under the New Business portion of the established regular order of business (Section 7). The second business session meeting is traditionally held the morning of the last day of the Convention.


B. Any regional group may make a bid to host a future National Convention, but the bid should have been discussed thoroughly among the members at a number of regional group meetings to ensure that the decision is the majority will of the Group.


1. Procedure for Regional Groups to make a convention bid presentation to host a convention:

1a. BVA National Headquarters has prepared a convention bid package, (approved by the National Board of Directors at the Mid-Winter Board Meeting, March 1998), and includes the following:

Form #1 - Letter format from Regional Group President or Secretary to BVA National Headquarters which states that the Regional Group has discussed, voted on and approved their RG presenting this bid. (Attachment A which is appended to the end of this Chapter).


Form #2 - official "Convention Bid Form" to be given to interested hotel or hotel(s) the Regional Group would like to have the convention. A copy of this bid form could be given to more than one hotel. The hotel(s) should complete this form in its entirety by the hotel(s) sales office and signed by the Sales Director. (Attachment B which is appended to the end of this Chapter).

Attached to this "Convention Bid Form" is BVA's specification sheet, by day, including required room block, meeting space, specific ADA requirements.


Form #3 - Hotel checklist for the Regional Group Officer to complete as he/she or a sighted representative does a walk-through. If this is not possible, and the convention bid is highly probable, the National Convention

Coordinator should complete this form when he/she travels to that city for a site visit. (Attachment C which is appended to the end of this Chapter).

C. The earlier the bid is submitted, the greater chance the regional group will get the bid. It is better to offer a tentative bid at least two years before the date in question.


D. When making a bid presentation before the Convention delegates and members, the regional group delegate and/or leaders should explain why the BVA should hold a future convention in their city by extolling its historic, cultural, and economic importance. Final information about a hotel selection is not necessary when making the initial bid, but an idea of available accommodations will help the convention attendees make a decision on the time and place for the convention.


E. Once the Convention has chosen the time and site for the next convention, the National Board of Directors cannot change it unless "good cause" can be shown. "Good cause is hereby defined as a catastrophe making it impractical to hold the Convention in the recommended city; the inability of the city to provide adequate housing at reasonable rates; or such other emergencies as the National Board of Directors may deem adequate."

Section 4. Initial Steps in Preparing for a National Convention (Article IX, Section 9A, B and C )

 

A. As early as possible, a Convention Chairman (or Co-Chairman) should be named by the regional group. These name(s) should be forwarded to the National President, who will formally appoint them, with the approval of the Board, to those respective positions by letter. The appointment of the Convention Chairman makes them officially nonvoting members of the part Board of Directors until the concerned Convention is over.

B. The BVA Board of Directors has authorized BVA Headquarters Executive Department has taken over the financial management of the convention.

1. A bank account has been set up in the name of BVA National Convention.

2. All Convention funds must be deposited in this account.

3. The Convention Manger will be authorized to write checks on the Convention account upon receiving written notice from either the Convention Chairman and/or the Executive Director.

C. A Convention budget will be developed and submitted to the Executive Committee of the National Board of Directors for approval. A sample budget is appended to the end of this chapter for the assistance of Regional Groups and labeled as Attachment D. (Note 8/8/12: Attachment D is not available at this time it is currently under review)

Section 5. Fund-Raising Projects (Article XIV, Section 13E & F )

 

A. Although Article XIV, Section 13F of the National Bylaws allows a Regional Group to obtain approval for certain fund-raising projects from the Executive or Administrative Directors, all fund-raising activities for a Convention should be submitted in writing to the National Board of Directors or the Executive Committee acting on its behalf. The fund-raising request must be approved prior to the event's taking place.


B. There are a number of ways for a regional group to raise money for a Convention, i.e., a bake sale; a raffle within the group or expanded to include the local community; soliciting sponsorship of local business; a regional group- sponsored picnic, dinner/dance, Walkathon, run or bicycle ride; etc.


C. Prohibitions


1. The regional group shall not contract with a professional fund-raising individual or firm without first submitting the contract or any other arrangement to the National Board of Directors for its review and approval.

2. The host regional group shall not conduct a sale of raffle tickets during the Convention. Over the years it has become tradition that the only raffle during the Convention has been the one conducted by the BVA Auxiliary, which uses the money raised by this raffle to fund its scholarship program and to give a donation to the next year's host regional group. To ensure that this raffle remains part of the BVA Auxiliary's Convention program, the National Board of Directors has incorporated this activity as part of its official policy.

Section 6. Hotel Negotiations

 

A. The National Office and the regional group shall work together in the selection of a hotel.

B. Any consideration of a Convention hotel should begin with a consultation between the National Office and the regional group for purposes of devising a strategy for the successful completion of this task.

C. The Conference Coordinator in the National Office will make the initial contact with the local Convention and Visitor's Bureau, informing them of the BVA's proposed Convention in their city. The local Bureau will notify hotels in the city to determine their interest. The interested hotels will be told to contact the Conference Coordinator. Regional group leaders may also contact hotels, asking them to notify the Conference Coordinator of their interest and keeping in mind the procedures entailed above the Convention Bid Package, i.e., Forms 1, 2 and 3. (Note 8/8/12: Form 1 2 and 3 are currently under review and not attached at this time)

D. The Conference Coordinator will follow up on the initial contacts with hotels to obtain basic information as to their suitability. The Regional Group Convention Chairman or Hotel Selection Committee should provide copies of information obtained from hotels to the Conference Coordinator.


E. Joint site inspections of the hotel(s) by the Conference Coordinator, the Executive Director, and the Regional Group Convention Chairman will be conducted. 

F. Those hotels found suitable and interested in hosting a Convention will be encouraged to submit a contract bid after submitting the appropriate forms included in the convention bid package.


G. The contract with the hotel should include:


1. Adequate meeting room, exhibit, and banquet space.


2. A complimentary suite for the BVA National President.


3. A complimentary suite to serve as a hospitality area.


4. Any complimentary suites, rooms, or upgrades of club level rooms at the convention rate, as well as the standard one complimentary room for each 50 guest rooms booked.

5. Any credits the hotel is willing to give for the President's Reception and/or Awards Banquet, or for providing coffee service during breaks, etc.


H. Contracts from the various hotels will be reviewed by the National Office. Once a single hotel has been selected, final negotiations will be conducted by the Executive Director and the Conference Coordinator via phone and/or mail. The regional group and the National Office should ensure that each receives all correspondence to and from the hotel.

I. The contract with the hotel will be signed by the Executive Director on behalf of the Association.

Section 7. Regional Group Responsibilities

A. Production of a Convention program booklet is very important. The National Office can provide the local committee with a sample from a previous Convention. The program booklet should contain the following information:

1. A schedule of the Convention events, which is provided by the National Office.

2. A list of the National Board of Directors, Regional Group officers, Convention officials, and BVA staff.

3. Proclamations or letters of welcome from the President, the state Governor, and the Mayor. Any additional information is left up to the regional group.

4. Funding of the program booklet may include sale of half, or full-page ads to other regional groups, individual BVA members, exhibitors, and local businesses. Special lists of sponsors ($1000) and patrons ($100) may be set up for those individuals and/or businesses who wish to be contributors but who do not want to take out an ad.

B. Provide the staffing and refreshment supplies for the hospitality suite.

1. One or more regional group members should be assigned to manage the hospitality suite. Other members should be assigned to secure the beverages, snacks, ice, etc.

2. Generally, the hospitality suite is open each evening beginning with the Monday before the Convention opens. It is also usually open after an evening function such as the President's Reception and the Awards Banquet. The general closing time is around 12 midnight.

3. The beverages should include various liquors, beer, wine, drink mixes, regular and diet sodas, and possibly some fruit juices. The regional group member(s) responsible should attempt to get these beverages at a discount. The beer may be obtained free, or at a substantial discount, through a local distributor, if that dealer's contribution is publicized.

4. Snacks should not be elaborate. Items such as nuts, pretzels, chips etc. are sufficient.

C. Publicizing the upcoming Convention (the Communications Coordinator in the National Office is available to assist a regional group in developing a public relations campaign).

1. BVA brochures and flyers about the convention should be given to the VIST Coordinators and other vision-related departments in the various VA Medical Centers and Regional Offices in the area.

2. The brochures and flyers announcing the Convention should also be given to the organizations of and for the blind in the area.

3. Set up personal interviews on the local radio reading service, radio talk shows, and cable TV for the Convention Chairman.

4. Set up interviews with local newspapers for the Convention Chairman or prepare articles or news releases for the use of the newspaper.

5. Enlist the support of Regional Group members who are members of Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Elks, Moose, Eagles, etc.

D. Special on-site or off-site activities or outings.

1. Provide the necessary tickets to these activities, if needed.

2. Examples of such outings are riverboat cruises, bus tours to historic sites or national shrines, baseball games, race tracks, wineries, breweries or distilleries, golf events, etc.

3. Make sure that transportation to and from the sites and the sites themselves are wheelchair accessible.

4. Be sure to have enough sighted volunteers on the buses for assistance.

E. Arrange for the printing, addressing and mailing of the invitations to the President's Reception. The regional groups is responsible for the registration fees of these guests.

1. A list of local and state dignitaries should be developed by the Regional Group.

2. The National Office will provide a list of national figures to invite.

3. Volunteers (spouses, family members, and/or friends) are to address the invitation envelopes by hand. Handwriting should be clear and legible.

F. Prepare any special information on the host city, such as restaurants, sight seeing attractions, etc. Obtain materials required for the convention packet and provide volunteers to assist National Office staff in preparing the packets.


G. Provide assistance in welcoming Convention attendees and distributing registration packets to them.

Section 8. Additional Joint Regional Group and National Office Responsibilities

 

*Administrative note: The following responsibilities have generally belonged to the regional group in the past; however, in recent years, the National Office has been providing assistance to the host groups in the fulfillment of these responsibilities. The level of National Office assistance depends upon the needs of the regional group.

A. Organizing and scheduling of workshops, panel discussions, and any other innovative efforts at Convention program planning.

B. Arranging for Convention speakers, i.e., keynote speaker for the opening business session, Father Carroll Luncheon, and the Awards Banquet.

C. Arranging for optional workshops or seminars.

D. Selecting menus for the food functions, i.e., President's Reception, Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon, and the Awards Banquet.

Section 9. Post-Convention Responsibilities (Article IX, Section 9D & E)

 

A. The host regional group is encouraged to balance the income and expenses for the Convention.

B. If, after all Convention expenses have been met, a balance remains in the Convention account, the first three thousand dollars ($3,000) of such funds may be retained by the host regional group, at the discretion of the National Board of Directors.

C. Any remaining funds over and above the $3,000 must be sent to the National Office to be placed in the treasury of the National Association.

D. The intention of the BVA By-Law (above) regarding raising the funds of $1,500 to $3,000 back to the Regional Group, and regarding distribution of any financial gain realized by the National Convention is that the host Regional Group be allocated the portion of that gain that is directly related to its successful fund raising efforts, and again, up to $3,000. It should be understood that:

1. All gain should be remitted to the National Office after the books at the Convention are closed.

2. That any gain to the Regional Group is not an expense item in the convention income statement.

3. That the Board of Directors of the BVA is obligated to decide how much of the gain, if any, will be remitted to the Regional Group.

4. That the remittance to the Regional Group will be commensurate with the Regional Group's fund raising efforts.

The host Regional Group is responsible for providing to the Board of Directors, an income statement, clearly indicating the sources of revenue and all expenses. It should be clearly stated whether the host Regional Group or National was responsible for individual items of revenue. For example, registration fees, exhibitors solicited by National, and program ads obtained by National should be indicated as funds raised by National.

Examples of funding obtained by the host Regional Group would be hotel room raffles, program ads solicited by the host Regional Group, local exhibitors obtained by the host Regional Group. Monetary donations solicited by the host and non-monetary donations such as hospitality room supplies to which a value must be attached.

The Board of Directors will carefully examine the income statement and make every effort to remit funds to the host Regional Group.

E. Within sixty (60) days following the Convention, the National Convention Chairman and the National Convention Treasurer will submit a detailed financial report of the Convention's income and expenses to the National Office. The Executive Director, the Controller, and the Conference Coordinator will examine the report. If the financial statement is found to be in satisfactory condition, it will be presented to the National Board of Directors at its next meeting.

Section 10. National Office Responsibilities

 

*Administrative Note: Although the regional group is not responsible for the following duties, the National Office's responsibilities are listed below to provide a more complete awareness and understanding of the planning necessary to put on a Convention.

A. Exhibitors

1. Develop a marketing plan to interest vision-related companies to exhibit at the Convention (sometimes a catchy theme is good).

2. Send thank you letters to exhibitors for attending the previous Convention. This letter is usually mailed in the early Fall.

3. Send letters notifying exhibitors of the upcoming Convention in the early Spring.

4. In June and/or July, make personal telephone calls to remind exhibitors of the Convention.

C. Prepare the pre-registration form, which contains the following information:

1. Name, address and membership status of the blinded veteran.

2. The number of family members and/or friends accompanying the blinded veteran.

3. The total amount of the registration fee (includes the cost of the President's Reception and the Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon).

4. Ticket prices for special outings or events.

5. Cost of ground transportation from the airport.

6. Any other pertinent information.

D. Mail the pre-registration Letter to the membership in a timely fashion to allow them to make plans for attending the Convention.

E. Receive and process all returned pre-registration forms and checks, money orders etc.

1. Review each completed registration form to ensure that it is properly filled out; if not, the registrant is called to clear up the problem.

2. Make follow-up telephone calls on those checks that do not clear an individual's bank.

3. Make a computerized list of all pre-registrants for use at the Convention.

F. The Conference Coordinator (and Executive Director, when necessary) works with the hotel staff in setting up the meeting rooms.

1. Schedule time and room for meetings of the Executive Committee, National Board of Directors, other Committees appointed by the National President.

2. Schedule time and room and choose the menu for the Board/staff and luncheon. Room should be large enough to seat about thirty-five persons.

3. Ensure that the meeting room for the general business sessions is set up correctly and open at the right time, e.g., head table on riser with table microphones, seats in theater-style with floor microphone, etc.

4. Ensure that all other meeting rooms are open and set up correctly. This includes rooms for meetings such as the BVA Auxiliary, FSP training, Regional Group Officers etc.

G. The Conference Coordinator sets up and mans the BVA office, acts as liaison to the hotel staff, and oversees and supervises all Convention meetings and functions.


H. The Conference Coordinator supervises regional group volunteers, coordinates the on‑site registration


J. The Executive Director, with selected BVA staff, will provide training for hotel staff on how to respond appropriately to blind persons. Training includes videos about the degrees of blindness and tips on assisting the blind.