The following are the minutes for the September 2020 Board Town Hall in which we discussed the creation of a legal name and logo for the Recovery Dharma Board of Directors:
2020-09-05 Non Profit Branding Town Hall Minutes
- Kris, Kara, Amanda and I represent the Board’s Non Profit Branding Committee.
- The Committee’s purpose is to create a legal way to clearly and transparently differentiate communications and materials that are endorsed by the non-profit organization which would in turn protect the organization itself and those that serve on its board.
- We are really happy to have you here and hear from you directly . These conversations are important to us as we work to be transparent and collaborative.
- Our global Sangha is very young and our Board is even younger.
- While we’re creating structures for this new non-profit we’re also considering the boundaries that should be in place between the organization and community at large.
- This year has brought up a lot of uncertainty and a feeling of not being in control which can be very uncomfortable which is why its important to have conversations like these.
- This meeting is a time for the Board to listen and hear the voices of the community and not rush to find the answers. Our intention is to honor what we hear at this Town Hall and take it back to ongoing discussions we have w/ the Board.
- Is an attorney but not an Intellectual Property lawyer so can’t specifically speak to specific legal questions today.
- There’s confusion in the Sangha about what we’re trying to achieve with a Board specific logo: we’re not talking about which logo should be used by the community but actually creating a copyrighted logo specifically for the Board to help delineate what’s community and what’s non-profit.
- All the Sanghas are autonomous and independent, as is the Facebook Group.
- The Board’s role is defined by law and by the RD bylaws which list the responsibilities of the Board. One of those responsibilities is a fiduciary duty to safeguard the assets of the RD corporation-some of those assets include the website, the conference and the literature thats approved and produced by the board.
- A helpful example of what we’re trying to create is the AA Blue People which serves as the official copyrighted logo of the non-profit board- not the triangle within the circle that all the communities of AA use.
- Lists the assets of the RD non profit: the website, the meeting list, the newsletter, the website bulletin, the annual conference, FB page, and future literature.
- A great example for this process will be the Core Intentions which were developed by the community and went through numerous town halls, if we develop a system in the next year to ratify it then we potentially put the RDG logo on that as it will be an official document of the org.
Community Member 1
- Its incorrect that the Board having its own logo will only affect the Board, however, it is a separate question from what the community logo is.
- Logos and branding orient people to know they’re in the right place, for example since the RD Facebook page has been stripped of any RD branding its now meaningless and confusing.
- The official AA website doesn’t look like AA to me because it doesn’t have the known triangle in a circle logo. In having a logo that’s controlled and used only by them they’ve harmed their brand.
- With the logo we use as a community, it’s important that everyone can use it and that it’s recognizable.
- Why not let have both the Board logo and the community logo on the website and FB page. The hope is that RD is able to express that something is “official” and a community-led movement.
- Thinks the official AA website works how its supposed to, i.e. when people are looking for the org they find it as opposed to finding a local service office or the meeting list, etc.
- Our legal responsibility is to make it clear that we are not the entire community and one of the reasons for that is the Board is liable for legal complaints against the organization, for example if something is written in the FB group they’ll sue the org because the community isn’t an entity.
- The corporation is made up of six volunteer Board members. If we have the wheel logo up and the community has it up too then it looks like we are the same. The fact that we don’t recognize the blue people logo as part of AA is exactly the point.
Community Member 1
- Can’t believe that a defamation lawsuit will be seriously impacted if the Board website has two logos on it. Is it a valid defense to say that “their logo is different so it’s not our problem?” and if the logo is the same you’re liable?
- Defamation is just one example, anyone can sue us for anything. We want to protect ourselves so we don’t spend all our time in litigation.
- It’s more likely we’ll be held accountable legally if it looks like the org is one and the same as the FB group and the community.
- The community can create their own logo that can be just as popular and the circle and the triangle. We don’t want to be in competition with our branding. We serve at the pleasure of the community, we’re democratically elected and empowered by the community to be of service to the community. The community is the power.
Community Member 1
- My proposal is that the Board use its own logo in addition to the community logo.
- Doesn’t believe the logo matter is the lynchpin in the Board isolating itself from liability.
- Come up with another way to get that done, maybe some kind of contract that meetings sign.
- RD is one year old, we don’t have the benefit of AA’s popularity. Unlike AA, our website is utilized as a hub by the community. The main site is even more important now during the pandemic as people are using their local sites less.
Community Member 2
- Its important to think of this from a beginner’s mind- how the newcomer is interpreting RD and its branding.
- Someone looking for recovery who goes to the website, the FB group, they’re going to think the Board runs everything anyway, no matter how many legal safeguards you put up.
- The Board needs to protect itself with liability insurance- board members have a lot of exposure, that should be a priority.
- Understands the Board’s argument for the logo better but its not as much a priority as the liability insurance.
Community Member 3
- Feels like the logo is a critical non-issue, and you’re doing a lot of chasing.
- Cover your butt if that’s what you need to do, get the logo later.
- Previously felt that the Board branding was a way out of the wheel discussion. Do the legal thing but it feels like you’re chasing unicorns that don’t need to be chased.
- Legal matters can sometimes be nice and concrete however views about marking and symbolism are a lot more part of our hearts. We didn’t come to definite conclusions today but we’ll take your feedback and continue the conversation. Thank you.
- The next Town Hall will be about the website.