Internal Organizations Committee
Report changes to IO Committee Chair
Manual for Internal Organizations:
Grotto - Region - Section - Survey
This document is not a substitute for the constitution and bylaws of your Grotto, Region, Section, or Survey.†How to charter an IO is not included in this manual; for that, please see New IO. See also the NSS Members Manual and the NSS web site.
Last updated: 9/29/2008††† Published by the Internal Organizations Committee of the National Speleological Society, Keith D. Wheeland, Chair
Much of the real work of the NSS (Society) is carried out by members working in small, local groups. The groups which are given permanent status by the NSS are of four types called Internal Organizations (IOs): Chapters (or Grottos), Regions, Surveys, and Sections. Each IO is chartered by the Society to help carry out the Societyís purposes on a local level. The privileges and responsibilities of IOs, the criteria by which they are chartered, and the rules they are expected to follow are set out in the Policy for Internal Organizations.
The IOs exist to make Society membership more meaningful. Each Society member should try to become a member of at least one IO and take part in its activities. The Society places no limit on the number of IOs to which a member may belong.† An NSS member may be an officer in multiple IOs.
A group of members who wish to form one of the IOs described below must first obtain a charter from the Society. The authority to charter IOs has been delegated to the IO Committee.
Chapter (Grotto).† A Chapter (Grotto, Student Grotto) is an IO made up of individuals who reside in the same general locality or who cave together and maintain community by means of electronic or other communications. Most chapters are known as grottos. The two words mean the same thing within the Society. Grottos generally hold regular meetings, take field trips, organize projects, train new members, publish newsletters, and provide social functions for their members. A student grotto can be organized at an educational institution to serve the needs of students, staff, and faculty at that institution. For sorting purposes only, grottos are placed in separate categories in the NSS Members Manual; by State of the Union, International, and Traveling.Regional Association ( Region). Regions are IOs made up of grottos, sections, surveys, and individuals in a general geographical area. The purpose of a region is to maintain communication among IOs and isolated members whose speleological interests cover the same general area. Most regions organize at least one annual project, meeting, or get-together. Some regions also publish a newsletter. Each Region must have as members a minimum of two IOs (grotto, section, survey).
Speleological Surveys (Survey). Surveys are IOs made up of other IOs engaged in gathering speleological data in a general geographical area. The primary purpose of a survey is to maintain a centralized file for the cave area and to prevent duplication of work among members. Copies of maps and information compiled by the surveys should be sent to the NSS Cave Files Committee. [Address]
Special Section (Section). Sections are IOs made up of individuals with a specific common interest related to caves. Sections are generally nationwide in scope and serve to maintain communication among the members. Each Section must have as members a minimum of ten NSS members.
Affinity Group. Affinity Groups are organizations of at least ten NSS members which will foster the NSS goal of fellowship among those interested in caves, but, unlike Sections, with common interests of their members not directly related to speleology. Affinity Groups are not IOs and do not have the privileges and obligations of IOs. They may be listed in the NSS Members Manual and on the NSS web page. The purpose of an affinity group must be compatible with the purposes and policies of the NSS.† The IO Committee will contact the group annually to verify its current status.
Grottos: Your membership must include at least five members of the NSS who have designated your grotto as their Primary Affiliation.
Region: Your membership must include at least two active IOs of the NSS.†
Section: Your membership must include at least ten members of the NSS.†
Survey: Your membership must include at least one other active IO of the NSS.
You must submit two copies of each IO publication to the NSS Library and to the NSS Cave Files Committee.† You are encouraged to send copies of your IO publication to others. See Newsletter Distribution.
All your members in leadership positions (as defined by your constitution and bylaws) must be NSS members.
You must submit an annual report to the IO Committee, at a time and place designated by the Committee.
You must cooperate with the NSS in establishing sound conservation and safety practices, and assist in or carry out other activities which further the purposes of the NSS.
You may not engage in any activity which is detrimental to speleology, conservation, safety, or the best interests of the NSS.
You may be classified as active or inactive. You are active if you have fulfilled the obligations listed above. Only then are you entitled to the benefits listed below.
Benefits:Your IO may receive one complimentary copy of each issue of the NSS News and the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies.
Your IO may lease web space from the NSS to host your IO web pages. Go here to check on details.
Your IO is entitled to representation in the Congress of Grottos which is held at the annual NSS Convention.
Your IO is entitled to send a non-voting representative to any meeting of the NSS Board of Governors for the purpose of presenting or discussing matters relating to the organization.
Your IO is entitled to receive the monthly notice of member changes on paper or by e-mail.
Your IO may receive monetary grants to aid in various activities of the organization, for example, cave exploration and expeditions.
Your grotto may receive assistance from the NSS such as legal information and help from the Legal Committee, cave information from the NSS Cave Files Committee, audio-visual programs, library materials, safety and techniques advice from the Safety and Techniques Committee, and exhibition materials to aid in the activities of your organization.
IO Address: The official mailing address of the IO, and its e-mail address.Leadership: A list of each member on the decision making body as defined by your constitution and bylaws. The list should include the personís name, position held, and NSS number. (Persons on the decision making body must be NSS members.)
Meeting Information (Grottos): The day of the month, time, and place where the grotto meets. (If meetings are held on an irregular basis, you may enter "Check with contact"). A Region, Section, or Survey need not supply this information.
Contacts: Two persons (living in separate households) whom other cavers can contact to find out information concerning the IO. Include name, address, home phone number, work phone number, and e-mail address.
Publication: The title of any regular IO publication, and the the number of issues published during the past year.†We also need to know that you have complied with the NSS publication policy which reads as follows: Two copies of each publication (if any) shall be submitted to the Society Library. At least one copy and preferably two copies shall be furnished to the Society Cave File Committee and it is recommended that one copy be furnished to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Constitution & By-Laws: If your IO has made a change to its constitution or bylaws since your last report to us, please send a copy of the amended document(s) to the IO Committee at your earliest convenience. If itís a minor change, you may send just the change.
Library Address: The mailing address of the IO to which NSS publications should be sent.
URL: If your IO has a web page, enter the URL.
WebMaster Information: Information about the IO webmaster.
NSS Publications: Your IO is entitled to receive one complimentary copy of each issue of the NSS News and one copy of each issue of the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies. Please let us know if you want the News and if you want the Journal.
Submitter:† We ask you to include the name of the person submitting the report and a means of getting back to that person in case questions arise.
Miscellaneous: The IO Committee may ask for additional items from time to time. They will be labeled "Optional".
How, Where and When to Submit The Report:
The report is due during the month of January for the previous calendar year.
NOTE: The information requested may change from year to year depending upon the needs of the NSS.
U.S. Geological Survey. The applicable addresses are shown at the end of this section.
Suggestion for paper copies: Some IOs include the addresses in the file that is used to produce mailing labels for their newsletter. For the NSS Library you can include two addresses. One may be called NSS Library 1 and the other NSS Library 2.
NSS Library and Cave Files Committee: The newsletters to these two offices may be submitted the following ways;
Paper: Submit two copies to the NSS Office mailing address each time an issue is published or in bulk at the end of the calendar year. If your issue has cave information like a description or map send an additional copy to the same address for the Cave Files Committee.
Digitally: Send a copy directly as a PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSS News Column: You are encouraged to submit a copy of each grotto publication to the person who reviews those publications and writes the†column for the NSS News.
American Caving Accidents: If your newsletter contains information about a caving accident, you are encouraged to send a copy to the editor of† American Caving Accidents. See also Reporting Caving Accidents†
U. S. Geological Survey Newsletter Exchange: There is an arrangement with the Library at the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) whereby they receive grotto and regional newsletters that contain some material of permanent reference value and, in return, the grotto or region is entitled to receive free topographic quadrangle maps for use in their projects. As a rough guide it is reasonable to request as many maps as you publish issues. In any case, please request maps several at a time, rather than singly. Requests should make reference to this exchange agreement and must be signed by a grotto officer. All maps are to be considered grotto property, and should not end up in the permanent possession of an individual who was in charge of the project.
Because of a critical shortage of shelf space, the USGS may have to deny the exchange agreement with some newsletters that contain material such as cartoons, jokes, and puzzles, which are of little permanent value.
All exchange newsletters, requests for maps, and other correspondence should be sent to the address given below.†
Requests should always be reasonable. As an example, a group that regularly publishes a bi-monthly newsletter might request a half dozen maps a year.
Exchange Policy with Other IOs: Many IOs will agree to swap newsletters. Send them your newsletter and they will send you theirs. Before doing so, check with them to find out about their exchange policy. This applies globally.
ISSN for Publications: There is a global program to facilitate the identification of serial publications by assigning to them a unique identification number. This number is called the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). An IO that publishes a regular serial publication may have a number assigned by the Library of Congress. The assignment is free and there is no charge for its use. If the name of the newsletter is changed after the assignment of the number, a new number must be obtained.
Addresses for Newsletter Distribution:
National Speleological Society Library
6001 Pulaski Pike
Huntsville, AL 35810-1122
NSS Cave Files Committee
6001 Pulaski Pike
Huntsville, AL 35810-1122
American Caving Accidents
6001 Pulaski Pike
Huntsville, AL 35810-1122
NSS News Column
USGS. Library National Center†
MAIL STOP 950
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston VA 20191-5603
Members of the NSS can assist in the ongoing collection of information about accidents incurred in caving, whether or not Society members are involved. This information is regularly summarized statistically and many of the incidents are narrated in an NSS publication, American Caving Accidents, with critical analyses, in the hope that through knowledge and greater care the number of serious accidents can be reduced. The information should be sent to the editor of American Caving Accidents,(See Newsletter Distribution addresses). Save and submit accounts of incidents that appear in newspapers, magazines, and newsletters, as well as providing a general account. Eyewitness stories are useful.
The Contemporary Cave Use Study (CCUS) is established as a permanent committee in the department of the Administrative Vice President. The committee shall have the following mission and responsibilities:
To gather information by using cave registers and other means to advance the knowledge and understanding of cave use in North America. The committee shall provide leadership, advice, and cave register devices to NSS committees, NSS internal organizations, NSS members, and researchers involving the distribution, maintenance, and retrieval of information. It shall make available data and its findings to the NSS, its members, and researchers in order to facilitate cave management, cave conservation, cave safety, and the management of the Society.
The project of placing cave registers in caves, and collecting, analyzing, and disseminating the resulting information has as its official name, the Contemporary Cave Use Study (CCUS).
The "register project," as it is often called, is currently an official NSS study committee reporting to the NSS Administrative Vice-President. The chairman is currently Garrett Czmor (pronounced See More).
If your Internal Organization would like to participate in the CCUS, contact the chair of the committee. Ask the chair for descriptive material about CCUS and what types of help the Committee can use and what commitment of time and energy are expected. Chances are that there are caves in your caving area that need registers. Take into consideration this quote.† "Not every cave in the U.S.A. should have a register, only unique ones where the register will have some practical use."
The library is also used to provide an outlet for video productions on caving made by cavers. Thus you will see productions in the full range from amateur shows to videos that are of broadcast quality (mostly videos).
You can improve the audiovisual library by volunteering to contribute new material.
Link to the NSS web site AV Library.
Awards are announced and presented during the annual NSS Convention. The nomination process starts in the fall; watch the NSS News for announcements. Please note that you must make the nominations. If your members wish to recommend someone who deserves recognition, it is never too early to research the personís qualifications and prepare a nomination.†
Internal Organizations may also wish to establish their own internal program of recognition.
(Note: The NSS Members Manual identifies NSS awards received by members. Find their name and look at the codes following their† NSS number.)
Please refer elsewhere on the NSS web page for the latest special funds.
The NSS is a tax-exempt corporation under the provisions of IRS 501(c)(3).
Internal Organizations of the NSS are not tax-exempt just because of their affiliation with the NSS.
If an IO is considering a major project which may require funding beyond what it reasonably expects to raise, it may petition the NSS to approve the project as an NSS Activity. (See Definitions and Policies for NSS Activities elsewhere in this manual.) All funds would flow through the NSS into the project. Tax-free donations would be made to the NSS which, in turn, would reimburse the project. All such funds must be accounted for and documented in a financial report that must be submitted to the NSS.
An Internal Organization may independently be classified as tax-exempt† by the IRS and still remain an Internal Organization within the NSS.
The application could reasonably point out that the IO has the same purposes under its constitution and by-laws as the NSS which was granted the tax-free status. The application should select the classification of "educational" or "scientific" depending upon the overall goals of the IO.
There is a non-refundable fee to file the application.
Before attempting to file, you may want to check with other IOs that have gone through the process.
Brief Description of Congress of Grottos from the NSS Bylaws. There shall be a congress held at least once a year for the purpose of affording the membership an opportunity to present their views on all problems relative to the operation of the Society.
(1) The Congress shall provide for representation of both internal organizations and individual members and shall be conducted in such a manner prescribed by the Board of Governors until formal rules for governing are adopted by the Congress itself. (Such rules were adopted in 1969.)
(2) The Congress shall have the power to pass resolutions; which resolutions must be considered by the Board of Governors at its next regular meeting.(3) The Congress shall meet at the annual convention and at such other time as its rules may provide.
Your IO is entitled to a certain number of votes depending upon how many current NSS members have designated your IO as their Primary Affiliation. See the Rules of Procedure for the COG to see the formula.
Here are some suggestions for fostering good landowner relations. Remember that visiting caves on private property is a privilege, not a right.
Personal contact is most important. Donít call or write if you can stop by in person and speak to the owner. Always be professional. Donít do anything on his property that you wouldnít want done on your own property. And always get permission.
Offer to take the owner caving if that is at all feasible.
Give copies of cave photos to the owner. The owner will appreciate being able to see the cave even if they have never been inside.
Offer to survey the cave if it has not been surveyed. Give the owner a copy of the map or other material related to the cave.
Offer to do an overland survey or use a GPS to plot the cave location. The owner might appreciate knowing where the cave is in relation to other buildings, wells, or dumping areas.
If the owner needs karst-related work done on his property, offer to work with your grotto, conservancy, or other group to sponsor a work day. You might offer to do a cleanup around the cave or along access roads. The owner might appreciate a fence or gate repair, a new gate, gravel in a parking lot, or other work done in areas where cavers may have caused damage.
Offer to present a slide show for the landowner and his family. The show could be about his cave or nearby caves, an educational presentation about how caves are formed, on bats, sinkhole dumping, or groundwater pollution, or on any topic that concerns the landowner.
A survey or poll of cave owners might be useful to determine their most pressing needs or desires.
Send complimentary copies of your newsletter to landowners.
Send a holiday greeting card.
If your state or area has cave protection laws or laws which limit liability for cave exploration, you may want to consider providing copies to the landowner.
The NSS shall actively encourage the public information media to educate the public on the scientific aspects of caves and karst, foster a respect for the cave environment, and inform the public of human activities that may degrade caves or harm cave inhabitants. The NSS shall also encourage public information which recognizes the accomplishments of the Society and its members. The Society shall not seek exposure in public media whose purpose is to promote caving as a sport. The NSS shall respond to media inquiries so as to portray the activity in a manner that does not encourage the general public to enter wild caves, but instead fosters respect for the cave environment, promotes safe caving practices, and directs those interested in caves to contact the Society. In our relations with the media the NSS shall encourage them to work with us to assure reliable, correct, and appropriate information.
The NSS will supply free factual data and news releases about the Societyís normal activities as an information service.
Grottos who are contacted by Scout groups and other youth groups should give serious consideration to their requests, not necessarily in doing just what they ask, but in some way meeting their needs because these groups are going to be caving, with or without the NSS. Grottos contacted should offer to train Scoutmasters so that they will become competent cavers. Cave exploring, other than simple novice activity, should be limited to those 14 years and older. Safety, conservation, and courtesy to cave owners should be practiced.† Read the Guide to Safe Scouting pertaining to caving published by Boy Scouts of America.
The NSS maintains a web page at www.caves.org. †
Grottos: There is a dropdown box where a viewer may enter a State and click Find. All grottos in or near that State will be displayed.†
Regions, Sections, and Surveys: On the NSS website there is a section for organizations. There is a general description for each active IO. There is a link to the IO website where detailed information is displayed for these IOs.
You can have a link added which will direct viewers to a web site that you may have for your own IO. This is done by updating your IO information and providing your web site URL to the IO Committee. You may also want to provide a link to the NSS web site from your site.
Information concerning IOs which appears on the NSS and IO web sites is provided by the IO Committee. Therefore each IO should update their records with the IO Committee. The IO Committee will make the changes to the NSS and IO web sites.
The NSS will host web sites for IOs for a small fee.
NSS Convention. Each year, the NSS sponsors the NSS Convention which is attended by cavers from all over the world. The annual convention is held during the summer months at the convenience of the hosting organizations.
A typical convention consists of a combination of learning opportunities and entertainment. Several planned parties and many spontaneous ones are mixed with a number of formal sessions where papers on many subjects are presented. Sporting contests are held and publications are sold. Some people camp; others stay in dorms or motels. Almost every caver can find something interesting to do at the week long convention.
National Cave and Karst Management Symposium. The Society also sponsors the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium. The Symposium is a gathering of cavers, cave owners, property managers, and public officials involved or interested in cave and karst resource management, and the premier event of its type in the world. Proceedings from past symposia are available from the NSS Bookstore.
When an IO decides to disband, dissolve, or otherwise cease to exist, it must follow certain procedures, document those procedures, and provide a written report to the IO Committee. Many IOs already have this in their constitution or bylaws. For help, please contact a member of the IO Committee.
Any assets remaining must be disposed of in the proper fashion. The legalese states it this way. No benefits resulting from the operation of the Internal Organization shall inure to the benefit of or be distributed to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons. Your constitution and or bylaws probably contain a provision covering your non-profit status, and procedures to be followed in the event of dissolution. If those provisions are not there, it is not too late to have them included.
Liabilities and Agreements:
Determine and document liabilities. Liabilities may include rent, printing, postage, and other outstanding bills. These outstanding debts should be similar to ones that have occurred in the past. The disbandment should not be an occasion to pay someone for a favor. Be sure to include, however, costs associated with disbandment, for example, shipping costs.
If there has been some commitment with some other person or group to perform certain duties, the other party should be informed that the IO has been dissolved and will no longer be performing those duties. This might include screening applications to enter a cave and issue gate keys in behalf of the cave owner, or an agreement with a federal or state agency to inventory and survey caves on their property. If permission to use a building for a field house is documented, arrangements might be made for another IO to take over that building.
Assets: Determine and document all assets of the IO --
-- Money in checking account, savings or certificates of deposit etc., or cash on hand.
-- Real estate such as a field house or cave entrance if owned by the IO.
-- Library of caving magazines, cave-related books, maps, survey data, etc.
-- Gear and equipment. (not real estate), such as caving equipment (Rope, vertical gear, party tarp, surveying equipment, rescue cache, vehicle or trailer, printing equipment, etc.)
-- Archives, i.e., the accumulated correspondence, reports, receipted bills, etc. including the initial NSS approval and charter, bylaws, memorandum covering arrangements etc. to manage cave access, keys, to inventory caves on a property.
Distribution of Assets: Many IO constitutions have a section on dissolution. If there is no section or it is unclear, here are some guidelines.
-- Check the files to see if some strings were attached to disposition of real estate or other assets; perhaps the original owner specified that the asset be returned in the event of dissolution.
-- Archives. These should be bundled up and sent to the IO Committee or sent directly to the NSS Library.
-- Real estate and tangible assets could be sold or auctioned off, and the proceeds added to the monetary assets. They may be donated to another non-profit agency. For instance, rope and rescue equipment might be given to a rescue squad. An active college student outing club might receive vertical gear. Printing equipment could be advertised within the caving community.
-- Maps and survey data should be given to whatever NSS survey is active for that region or, for lack of such a destination, to the NSS Cave Files Committee. If there is reluctance to do this, perhaps there is a state geological survey that would be preferable.
-- Books and newsletters could be auctioned at a regional or national auction, sold at a local auction, or donated to another library.
Final disposition: Dispose of the money by donating it to the NSS or one of the several conservancies established to buy and/or manage caves, or to some other non-profit cave-related agency.
Send a detailed written report of how assets were disposed of to the NSS IO Committee.