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Bylaws and Policies

1. Definition

CommA is an association of community foundation communications professionals. It provides:

  • A forum for sharing ideas, comparing results and for raising questions among community foundations communications professionals;
  • A structure for working together toward common goals;
  • A voice on behalf of community foundation communicators for promotion and understanding of the unique role communicators can play, and the contributions they make to the field’s advancement.

2. Purpose

CommA has four aims:

  • To strengthen the effectiveness of community foundation communication professionals through cooperation and training;
  • To find and disseminate best communication practices;
  • To educate our community foundation field about the communication discipline and its strategies;
  • To increase public awareness of community foundations through collaborative efforts.

3. Affiliation

  • CommA is a professional association, affiliated with the Council on Foundations and the Communications Network.
  • CommA welcomes opportunities to work with other professional associations and other organizations involved in benefiting the profession of communications and/or the field of community foundations.

4. Membership

4.1 Membership Eligibility

CommA’s Steering Committee has final authority in deciding who is eligible for membership, according to the criteria. All new requests for membership are reviewed by Steering Committee representation.

Community foundation staff:

  • CommA is open to community foundation employees who are principally responsible for creating and disseminating information about their community foundations through a broad range of media. This includes foundation staff who are responsible for communications activities full‐time, as well as those who spend a substantial portion of their work‐related time on communications.
  • CommA is open to staff of community foundations defined as serving a specific geographic area; house permanent funds established by individuals, families, businesses, and organizations; and support a wide range of issues.
  • Membership is not open to staff of other kinds of public charities, including ones national in scope and ones that focus on a single issue area or whose constituency represents a particular population.
  • Former community foundation staff will not be eligible to remain as Members.


  • Consultants who have long‐term contracts with a particular community foundation and serve, in effect, as staff are eligible to join CommA, with the understanding that membership ends when their contracts end.
  • Other consultants are not eligible to be Members.

Members of regional affiliate groups and other associations of foundations:

  • Staff of these organizations who work full‐time with community foundations, with duties that relate to communications, are eligible to be Members.
    Please note: Staff of educational institutions that offer courses and workshops for community foundation staff are not eligible to join.

4.2 Dues

CommA stopped collecting annual dues in 2017. However, participation in the online sharing community requires membership with the Communications Network. CommA uses the ComNet Members Community as its online sharing platform. 

You may receive emails from CommA and participate in webinars without being a Communications Network member. 

4.3 Supporting Member Benefits

CommA offers the following benefits to its Members:

  • Eligibility to participate in CommA professional duties and conferences.
  • Eligibility to vote for and serve as a member of the Steering Committee and/or subcommittees.
  • Eligibility to apply for reimbursement of volunteer expenses when representing CommA.
  • Discounts on memberships in other professional groups, as negotiated by CommA.

4.4 Responsibilities of Members

CommA relies on participation of its Members in order to be effective. Members are expected to share information about their communication practices and policies with other CommA Members, participate in discussions on proposed CommA projects, act for the good of the community foundation field, and respect actions taken for the good of the field.

CommA Members have a voice in decisions of the group by proposing actions or reacting to proposals through:

  • the electronic discussion list;
  • at conferences and meetings;
  • by serving as volunteers on field‐wide and CommA‐only committees;
  • by electing Steering Committee members;
  • by participating in surveys to assess opinion or gain statistical information; and
  • by reading and responding to reports from the Steering Committee.

5. Governance


The Steering Committee shall comprise of up to ten members and no less than five, elected by the Supporting Members of CommA.


The Steering Committee has the following responsibilities:

  • To maintain accurate records of CommA activities and membership.
  • To report to CommA Members about activities, membership and other business.
  • When appropriate, to conduct a conference of CommA and programs designed to promote professional development and knowledge of relevant communications issues.
  • To represent CommA in the activities of other organizations in our field with whom we work to further achieve our goals.
  • To promote the interaction of Members on issues of importance through regular communications, and by serving as a resource to individual Members.

5.3 Requirements of Steering Committee Members

Members of the CommA Steering Committee must meet the following certain criteria and be prepared to fulfill certain obligations. Each Steering Committee member: 

  • Is an employee of a community foundation and is a Member of CommA.
  • Has a commitment to the work of the organization.
  • Has knowledge and skills in one or more areas of the Steering Committee roles.
  • Attends scheduled Steering Committee meetings and is expected to attend the annual leadership retreat, and attend at least 75% of monthly meetings and must notify the chair for an excused absence.
  • Makes a time commitment of five hours per month, includes committee preparation and meeting time.
  • Chairs one committee or serves in a particular designated role.
  • Makes every effort to attend CommA’s conferences, any other meeting designated as the primary opportunity for the Steering Committee to meet in person during a given year.
  • Prepares for and participates in the discussions and the deliberations of the Steering Committee.
  • Fosters a positive working relationship with other Steering Committee members, other affinity groups, professional associations, and other constituents.
  • Is aware of and abstains from any conflict of interest.
  • Is available to serve the term to which she or he is elected.


5.4.1 Elections

  • Elections to the Steering Committee are held online annually, as scheduled by the Steering Committee.
  • Members may nominate themselves or other Members for open slots on the Steering Committee.
  • The Steering Committee will review the candidates and the needs of CommA, and nominate a slate of candidates for open positions.
  • The final roster with any additional candidates will be presented to the Members by the chair.
  • If the nominated slate runs unopposed, the new Steering Committee members will be elected if the slate receives a majority vote of the Supporting Members participating in the election.
  • If additional candidates come forward to run in addition to the slate proposed by the Steering Committee, new Steering Committee Members will be those individuals receiving the most votes from the membership.

5.4.2 Terms of Office

  • Each Steering Committee member is elected to a two‐year term.
  • Terms are designed to be staggered to ensure continuity within the Steering Committee.
  • The Chair shall serve a two-year term. All other roles are one-year terms, although Steering Committee members may hold the same role for more than one year. Terms can be renewed as needed.

5.4.3 Vacancies.

If a mid‐term vacancy occurs, the Steering Committee may fill the vacancy or hold an interim election at its discretion.

5.5 Officers and Other Steering Committee Positions

  • Officers of the Steering Committee shall be; Past Chair, Chair, Vice‐Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.
  • Officer positions and other roles of Steering Committee members shall be determined and filled by the Steering Committee at its discretion.

5.6 Steering Committee Meetings

The Steering Committee shall determine the frequency and mode of its meetings and shall meet no less than four times each year.

6. Other Volunteer Opportunities

CommA Members may be asked to carry out specific responsibilities as volunteers on behalf of the organization, including responsibilities within CommA or representing CommA in a field‐wide capacity.

The Steering Committee shall oversee these volunteer opportunities and make sure that all essential positions are filled in order to maintain communication with other committees, task forces and action teams.

7. Amendments

These bylaws may be amended from time to time by a vote of greater than 50 percent of Members participating in a vote on a question called by the Steering Committee.

8. Other Policies

Other policies consistent with these bylaws and relating to specific practices of CommA, its Steering Committee and its membership, may be expounded in separate policy documents, subject to approval and amendment by the Steering Committee, at its sole discretion.

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