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As HMTC grows it must set rules and policy. It’s a natural occurrence and there are many books about the need to put that in place before creating an organization or company. The necessity is for company clarity, and ultimately to protect the company.

Though Hanford Multicultural Theater Company is not in a big city, members of the staff are experienced in bigger theater companies and the industry. These members know how it all should go. Resisting the structure of guidelines, rules, and policy for participants is being lazy. Yes, I am guilty of that. My excuse is that we are a ‘small town’ but thinking small can cause big problems.

Recently we had some issues that needed to be addressed. Our bylaws require us to bring everything to the board. We had to wait a bit due to schedules. The board meeting was educational, and it came with a verdict.  The verdict was -- to be more structured and to have participants agree to guidelines.

Guidelines make sure property and hierarchical roles are protected. Guidelines make sure we follow our mission and commitment to the State. Guidelines protect our investment. Guidelines prevent problems!

A recent experience reminded me of childrearing. A young child is allowed to do whatever they want. It is actually cute the little messes they make. As they get older, you put rules into place. What happens is the child will rebel against the rules. The child will have a tantrum. The child’s feelings are hurt and might even break a few things as they storm out of the house.

The reality is that rules have to be put into place, so the ‘house’ doesn’t get broken. If the child paid rent or utilities, maybe the child can have a little say in the matter. Maybe… Until then, the orders are received from the upper portion of the hierarchy, and what they say goes.

Before a nonprofit becomes certified by the IRS, there must be a hierarchy in place. A board consists of a president, vice-president and a secretary, at the very least.  A nonprofit must have bylaws and these bylaws act as guidelines. Bylaws are registered with the State and adhered to by the organization.

Our entity is a 501(c)(3) and it must operate for charitable, educational, or scientific purposes. I have thrown myself on the ‘train tracks’ to preserve our organization’s nonprofit status when some members in the past showed a preference for a social club. We have friendly people, but we cannot be a social club. That’s a 501 (c)(7).

If I can say one hard thing I learned about companies, is to make sure guidelines and policy are in place before opening the doors. It is a must-do, and if done late, feelings can be hurt.

June 16, 2024


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