An all-volunteer organization like Arizona Citizens Defense League is an interesting case. I volunteer for a gun rights lobby organization here in Arizona; guns do not have rights but people do have the right to defend themselves and their families. In the last six years, I have worked hard, along with others, to grow the membership from the original five people to now over 6,000 members. As a candidate for the Arizona State Legislature, I have been also asking people to sign my petition to get me on the primary ballot while at the volunteer table. I have received some heat from some members that say I am running against AZCDL policy, unwritten, by asking for signatures at the AZCDL table, because it looks like AZCDL is endorsing me. AZCDL.org is a 501.c4 that prohibits candidate endorsement, because it has registered as a lobby organization.
Arizona Citizens Defense League does not have written policy guidelines. When asked the board of directors say that the bylaws are there policy guidelines. Our structure is such that we as membership coordinators make our own policy. Since we are a small group of coordinators, there has been no need for written policy guidelines. We had only three coordinators until this year, because we were primarily located in Phoenix and Tucson. We all have the same mindset to add membership.
The organization is always my first priority. I always wait until after the new member signs the membership application before mentioning about my candidacy. Admittedly there is a gray line here that can be crossed, but I believe that some members of AZCDL.org is violating my liberty of free speech by not allowing me to gather signatures at the membership table. (Cooper) "Dual tendencies within all human beings toward self-interest on the one hand and altruism on the other must be acknowledged by those in public service. (p 190)" The benefit to the organization by this policy is that they are following what they view as the law for a 501.c4 organization, meaning that they cannot endorse a political candidate, or they could lose their 501.c4 status.
The organization is too young to have a tradition; however, it does have a culture that transcends from a sister organization in Virginia, Virginia Citizens Defense League. The original four guys came from Virginia and were distressed to find relatively restrictive gun laws in Arizona, so they formed the AZCDL as a lobby group. Since the early 90s, the Arizona gun laws had changed because activist judges make law, instead of interpreting law made by the legislature, the Brady bunch lobbying, and ineffective lobbying by the NRA. The culture grew with about ten very active members who were all of the same mindset, which is let us get along and lets change gun laws in Arizona. We are all predisposed to perform ethically, behave justly and tell the truth (Cooper 190). Mistakes can be made because we are all human, however we all have the best interests of the organization and our mission is on our mind at all times.
We have an unofficial apprenticeship program to teach people how to sell memberships; they listen to experienced sales members then try. We doubled our coordinators this year to six because of our rapid expansion. Perhaps now is a time for us to establish a written set of policy guidelines. Guidelines that include an explanation what can be on the table and what cannot be on the table. With a good set of policy guidelines then we all as coordinators can have one voice with what can be said, displayed, and sold at a membership table.
Ethics and Social Justice "Liberty: Applications" with Amanda Baker. https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_59075_1%26url%3D
Cooper Terry L. The Responsible Administrator. John Wiley and sons. (2006) San Francisco CA.