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How Your Organization Can Adopt Robert's Rules

An organization reaps many benefits by taking Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) as its parliamentary authority. RONR is the guide preferred by most professional parliamentarians for being fair and complete. It is easily obtained by officers and members of your group. Its basics are familiar to many people, having already been used by many other societies. And behind RONR there is over a century of experience with meetings, so its guidelines anticipate nearly every question that will arise.

MOST COMMON METHOD:

To adopt RONR as your organization's parliamentary authority, the society should insert the following into its bylaws at the appropriate place [RONR (11th ed.), p. 15, ll. 21-26; pp. 580, 588]:

Article #
Parliamentary Authority

“The rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the Society in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order the Society may adopt.”

Of course, another term than “Society” may be substituted that more appropriately describes the particular organization. Pay particular attention to the footnote on page 580 of RONR (11th ed.) if your organization is incorporated.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Convention: At a convention of an organization whose bylaws do not designate a parliamentary authority, a rule doing so may be adopted together with other specific rules as in the example below. For adoption, such a rule requires a two-thirds vote. [RONR (11th ed.), pp. 620, 624.]

Rule #: The rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the convention in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with the bylaws of the Society and these standing rules.”

Adoption by Same Vote as Special Rules of Order: An organization which has bylaws that do not designate a parliamentary authority should amend its bylaws as described above under “most common method.” However, amending bylaws may be a difficult process that takes considerable time. In some cases it may be desirable to adopt a parliamentary authority more rapidly than the bylaws can be amended. This may be done (in an organization that already has bylaws in a meeting that is not part of a convention) by adopting a resolution such as that below either with previous notice by a two-thirds vote or, even without notice, by a vote of the majority of the entire membership. [RONR (11th ed.), p. 15, ll. 28-32; p. 17, ll. 28-31.]

Example:Resolved, That the rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the Society in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with the bylaws of the Society and any special rules of order the Society may adopt.”

Meeting of a Group That Does Not Yet Have Bylaws: At a meeting of an unorganized body (one with no bylaws; called in parliamentary parlance a “mass meeting”), a parliamentary authority may be adopted by majority vote through a motion such as the following [RONR (11th ed.), p. 15, ll. 32-35; p. 546]:

Resolved, That the rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern this meeting in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with any special rules of order the meeting may adopt.”

More advice about writing and adopting bylaws for an organization, including a complete sample set of bylaws, can be found in RONR (section 56).

Based on the experience of many groups, it is recommended that an organization which adopts RONR as its parliamentary authority purchase a hardcover copy of the book to be held by its chairman and passed down to succeeding chairmen. In addition, other officers and committee chairmen will benefit from having their own copies of the book to refer to, and both they and other members should be encouraged to obtain and read Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief.

Perseus

 
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NOTE: While there are many books available with “Robert's Rules” in the title, be aware that only the 2011 editions of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, published by Da Capo Press, are the current, official versions.

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