The following section outlines the mandatory rules for all clubs that collect any kind of fees or funds - regardless of their source or collection frequency. The rules do not apply to corporate clubs, which should follow their companies' policies regarding finances. Note that the rules also apply if the club only relies on fundraising activities or external donations but doesn't charge members anything. Definitions "Club site" is defined as the club's online presence, which may be a website, a social media page or group, a forum, etc. "Approval by the members" is used as per the voting procedures outlined in the Club Democracy section. All spending proposals subject to a vote must include: The exact purpose of the operation The minimum and maximum amounts allowed The minimum and maximum timeframe for execution from the date of approval, where the maximum timeframe cannot exceed one year. "Operating costs" are those costs that are inevitable for the regular operation of the club and include: Venue rental for the duration of the meeting. Rental of equipment used during the meeting: computers, microphones, projectors, etc. Maintenance and repair costs of existing equipment. Setup and post-meeting costs (preparation, cleaning, etc.) Office supplies and consumables (paper, pens, photocopies, printer ink or toner for printing evaluation forms, etc.) Stationery (business cards, badges, welcome packs, pins, banners, etc.) Financial costs such as bank transfer fees, account maintenance fees, taxes, etc. Costs arising from the local legal obligations of a club (insurances, legal registration, legal bookkeeping, etc.) Examples of non-operating costs: Permanent purchases of equipment Costs for organizing special events, parties, or workshops. Costs for inviting paid speakers or trainers. Support for sending a club contest winner to a remote contest. "Agora-related events" are any events organized or co-sponsored by one or more Agora clubs and that are aligned with all the Core Principles (especially the Neutrality one) and that have the purpose of advancing Agora's mission or goals. Some examples of such events are: Public Speaking, Debating, and other similar contests Agora Conventions at different levels Open-door events for the promotion of Agora clubs Demo meetings for prospective clubs. Workshops, seminars, training sessions, etc. Valid Club community projects. Participation in fairs, shows, or other similar third-party events where the club's presence is appropriate for marketing and membership growth purposes. For examples of the types of events where club participation wouldn't be allowed, please check the Neutrality Principle. "Official Agora events" are any universal applicability events created or defined by the Agora Speakers International Foundation. Currently, there are two such types of events: All contests that follow the official rulebooks. Agora Conventions at all geographical levels. Financial Rules Financial Freedom FF01. Clubs may decide to charge any amount they consider appropriate, with whatever frequency they need, and can receive funds from any third parties provided that all the following rules are observed. FF02. The amount and periodicity of the club fees collected from members must be publicly visible on all club sites. Accessing such information may not require filling in any forms or providing any personal information. FF03. Club fees collected from members may not be discriminatory: all members must pay the same fees. The following exceptions are allowed: People belonging to special low-income or minority collectives may be offered a discount or free membership. E.g., students, pensioners, unemployed, ethnic minorities, refugees, etc. We reserve the right to examine these situations and ask them to be removed if we feel a club is abusing this definition and turning it into a discriminatory membership fee (e.g., a club that defines 'white males' as a 'minority collective' ) For clubs that operate in a language that is not an official language of the country (Eg: an English Speaking Club operating in Spain), native speakers of that language may be offered a discount or free membership. Any professionals in the areas of public speaking and leadership may be offered a discount or free membership if they routinely perform evaluations, workshops, or mentoring during club meetings. FF04. Guests and other Agora members may not be charged for visiting the club during regular sessions. During non-regular sessions, such as special events, meetings with guests, speakers, workshops, etc., a previously publicly announced one-time fee may be charged for attendance. This one-time fee must be announced at the same time as the announcement of the non-regular session. FF05.Clubs may not accept anonymous donations or donations from third parties whose ideology or actions run against Agora Speakers International's ideals, principles, mission, and goals. Valid Use of Funds VU01. Club funds may not be used for the personal profit or benefit of any member. Usage of funds must always comply with the local legal requirements for non-profits. In case of conflict between the local legislation and these rules, the most restrictive one will apply. VU02. All goods or services purchased by the club must be for the club's operation or for Agora-related events such as contests, conventions, etc. Clubs may not use funds for any operations whose sole purpose is increasing the funds of the club. In particular, the clubs may not engage in investment activities of any kind, including securities, commodities, foreign exchange, futures, options contracts, and real estate, regardless of whether they are publicly traded or not. VU03. Any assets that clubs acquire must be used exclusively by club members, Agora country representatives, or meeting guests for club or other Agora-related activities aligned with the mission and purpose of Agora. Such usage of acquired assets may not be subject to additional charges. VU04. Upon dissolution of a club, all remaining funds must be donated to a legally recognized charity approved by the members by a simple majority. If no agreement can be reached, then the funds will be donated to Agora Speakers International. VU05. Clubs may not hire employees. VU06. Clubs may not hold investment instruments of any kind and may not take debt. VU07. All accounts used by the club must be opened in authorized banks that operate locally in the territory where the club is registered and must be denominated in one of the official currencies of the country For example, a club registered in France may not open an account with a bank from the Cayman Islands with no local presence in France. It also may not open an account in any denomination other than Euros, regardless of the bank used. Usage Oversight OV01. Clubs that collect funds or fees must have a Treasurer officer, different from the President. OV02. The club must keep detailed and up-to-date club finances published on all club sites and must provide a full detailed report to the Foundation once a year. This information should be available to all Agora members worldwide. These finances can be something as simple as an Excel file detailing incomes and expenses or something as complicated as a complete accounting report, but in any case, it must be completely clear how specifically the membership fees are being used. Apart from an aggregated format, club expenses must also be available in a non-aggregated, detailed format. The detailed format must include, for each transaction, at least the following: Date, The amount spent or received, Source (for fees or donations) or provider (for purchases of goods or services). Purpose or reason for the transaction. (For purchases of goods or services - the specifics of the product or service bought) OV03. Clubs may not accumulate funds in excess of the equivalent cost of 2 years of operating costs unless authorized by a majority of the members and only for specific, budgeted purposes. This authorization must be renewed yearly. OV04. Any usage of more than 1/3rd of the club's funds (taking as a baseline amount the funds available at the beginning of the Fiscal Year) for non-operating purposes will require approval by members, regardless of whether that 1/3 is reached by means of a single transaction or cumulatively. More specifically, any transaction whose amount, added to the amount of non-operating expenses since the beginning of the Fiscal Year exceeds 1/3rd of the club's initial funds must obtain approval by members, unless that transaction is part of a previously approved budgeted proposal, and the amount of the transaction is within the approved range. Some examples. A club starts the FY with $1000 (1/3 = $333). The president wants to buy a projector for $400. $400 > $333, so the members must approve the purchase. After getting the approval, the president wants to buy a microphone for $15. Since the purchases' cumulative cost is $400+$15 > $333, that transaction must also be approved. In fact, the rule does mean that after spending 1/3 of all club funds, every single non-operating spending must be approved. A club starts the FY with $1000 (1/3 = $333). The president buys 10 microphones for $30 each (cumulative cost: $300). A bit later, he wants to buy a lectern for $50. Members must approve that transaction since the lectern's cumulative cost and the previous purchases would be $350, which exceeds the 1/3rd rule. A club starts the FY with $1000 (1/3 = $333). The president presents and gets approval a plan for organizing a contest with a budget of $600. He proceeds to buy a projector for $400 and 10 microphones for $10 each - a total of $500. None of these transactions require approval. Then he wants to buy a set of books, valued at $50, for the club. This transaction has to be approved since the total cumulative cost is $550 ( > $333), and this transaction is not related to the contest. A club starts the FY with $1000 (1/3 = $333). The president presents and gets approval a plan for organizing a contest with a budget of $600. He proceeds to buy a projector for $400 and wants to buy 10 microphones for $25 each. Buying the microphones would result in total non-operating costs of $650 - above the previously approved budget - so members must approve that transaction. OV05. Any spending or financial approval that club members might give will last for at most one year. When the year is over, another vote will be necessary to extend the next year's approval. Financing of Agora-related Events One of the core pillars of Agora's system is the official set of inter-club Agora events, such as contests, conventions, etc., as well as any other events organized by multiple clubs (such as friendly gatherings, unofficial competitions, etc.) These activities will usually require some degree of advance financing in order to be carried out successfully. AE01. All Agora-related events (official or not) should be primarily self-financed by means of ticket and goods sales, sponsorship, grants, and others. AE02. 10% of the gross proceeds of all such events (official or not) will go to the Agora Speakers International Foundation AE03. The cost of any official Agora events that require a certain amount of pre-financing will be borne by all the individual members in the affected geographical area, with the limit of the whole country for International-level events such as Conventions. All members in the corresponding region will contribute - in addition to whatever other fees they're paying - a proportional part of those expenses. This proportional part will be the result of dividing the required financing by the number of unique members in the region, and it will be the same for all members regardless of the number of clubs they belong to. Each club is free to decide whether it will take this required contribution out of its own funds, or whether it will pass it to the members, or a combination of the above. AE04. Any profits or losses from the event will be distributed back to the clubs, in quantity proportional to the number of club members. The clubs may reimburse that money back to their members, up to the amount that they had to pay as per AE03. The decision to reimburse or not part of the profits is left to each club's Executive Committee. The portion of the funds not reimbursed back to members will become part of the club's funds. Note that clubs may not return to members more than the amount it originally collected for them; otherwise, this would be considered a profit-sharing scheme that would not be compatible with the non-profit status. AE05. Event organizers must report all accounting operations that surround the organization of the event to the Agora Speakers International Headquarters, as they happen, with the level of detail indicated in OV02, and using the accounting tools that the headquarters will provide. For example: A country will host the Agora International Convention next year. There's a pre-financing need of $1050. There are 14 clubs in the country, with a total of 180 members (some members belong to more than one club). As per AE03, each member will have to contribute $5.83 to support the convention organization. One club, - "Progressive Speakers," decides that it will ask its members for $2.00 only and will pay the remaining $3.83 per member from its own funds. The Convention receives $12.850 of funding through ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, and state grants. As per AE02, $1.285 goes for supporting the operations of Agora Speakers International, and the remaining $11.565 is used to pay for the Convention costs. After the Convention is over, the total costs turn out to be $8.440, so there's a net profit of $3.125. That amount is distributed back to the 14 clubs in a manner that's proportional to each club's size. If all of the 14 clubs had an equal number of members, each would receive $223.21. Of that amount, each club may return up to $5.83 back to each member - except for the "Progressive Speakers" club - which may return back no more than $2.00, as that is the amount of originally collected money from each member. Any member that is a member of more than one club receives back this amount of money just once. Sponsorship of Convention Participants CP01. Only participations in official Agora events strictly above the city level are eligible for sponsorship. CP02. The clubs in a particular geographic area (up to the country level, inclusive) may choose to sponsor the following convention participants' expenses. Contestants. One non-competing club representative with voting power, approved by the club's Executive Committee. People directly leading workshops, training sessions, seminars at the eligible event. Clubs may decide to sponsor one kind of participation, but not others. CP03. The sponsorship decision must be approved with an absolute majority of the clubs' Presidents, and the vote must take place as follows: For contestants: before the first contest round (club level) For other participants - no later than one month after the announcement of the date of the event. There are specific time limits for voting to prevent clubs from deciding to sponsor or not contestants based on criteria such as whether they belong to their club or not. The decision must be made to either "in principle" sponsor or not the winner, regardless of which club it came from. CP04. The following constitute valid uses of the clubs' funds unless explicitly prohibited by the local legislation: Economy-class round-trip travel expenses in the most suitable transport mean. The cost of the most complete ticket type for the event. Accommodation expenses for the duration of the event plus 2 nights (allowing arrival one day before and departure the day after the event is over) Reasonable daily allowance expenses for meals and transportation CP05. Sponsorship may happen only against specific purchase proposals. Exchanging the sponsored products and services for money is not allowed. The sponsored participants must keep invoices of all sponsored goods and services and submit them electronically to their club's Treasurer the moment they receive them and no later than two weeks after the purchase. For example, if a suggested hotel's cost is $75/night, the sponsored participant may not purchase a $50/night hotel and keep the difference. The opposite is possible, however - the sponsored participant may complement the sponsored amount from his own pocket to purchase a $100/night hotel. Rule Changes RC01. These rules may change from time to time. Clubs must be compliant with the new rules within six months of the change.