Mon 16 Oct 2023 4:07PM

Term Clarification in the Bylaws (2 year instead of officially indefinite, but practially 1 year)

O Owl Public Seen by 72

Advice Process for Term Clarification in the Bylaws of Kiez Burn e.V.



Proposer’s Role:

I'm a member of the board of Kiez Burn e.V.

Information Gathered Before Posting:

Reviewing current statutes, benchmarking with other similar organizations, and assessing the operational implications of a longer board term.

People/Roles Most Affected by This Proposal:

Current board members, future board candidates.

Members of Kiez Burn e.V.People/Roles with the Most Knowledge and Experience Relevant to This Proposal:

Former board members (who served one-year terms).

Do we have governance experts or individuals with experience in organizational term limits?

The ProposalBackground:

The current §12 of our bylaws does not specifically define the term of the board, although traditionally it has been one year.

Original §12: „Der Vorstand wird von der Mitgliederversammlung auf unbestimmte Zeit gewählt und bleibt im Amt bis ein neuer Vorstand gewählt ist.“

This has led to uncertainties in continuity and strategic planning. A clearer, extended term would provide stability and enable the board to execute longer-term projects.

The Proposal:

Amend §12 to define the board's term as two years, while retaining the provision that they remain in office until a new board is elected.

New proposed text for §12: „Der Vorstand wird von der Mitgliederversammlung für die Dauer von zwei Jahren gewählt. Die Wiederwahl der Vorstandsmitglieder ist zulässig. Der Vorstand bleibt auch nach Ablauf der Amtszeit im Amt, bis ein neuer Vorstand gewählt ist.“

How Would the Proposal be Implemented?

The amendment will be presented at the regular assembly in Q4/2023. The general assembly will vote on the change.

Who Would Implement This Proposal?


When Would This Proposal be Implemented?

Officially, once the advice process is complete, the proposed change will be handed over to the board.

What Would be the Cost (time, money, effort, etc.) of This Proposal?

Minimal extra costs; primarily the time taken for discussions and the potential notary fees (which will be there anyways because of changes in the board).

Advantages of This Proposal:
  • Provides clarity and consistency in governance.

  • Allows the board to think and act more strategically with a longer-term focus.

  • Offers continuity for members, with fewer disruptions from frequent board turnovers.

Disadvantages of This Proposal:
  • If challenges arise with board members, the organization would commit to them for a longer term.

  • Potentially limits opportunities for others who wish to join the board within a shorter time frame.

  • If the change is not approved by a 2/3 majority at the general assembly, the current ambiguity continues.


A decision is sought on whether the bylaws should be changed according to this proposal.


Caro T Mon 16 Oct 2023 4:22PM

Thank you Owl for yet again a precise and well written advice process! Whilst I've now served 2 years in a row, I don't think this is a good idea to commit people to do 2 years.

  • I benefited from having co-board members in my first year that helped me get sorted while I was still confused about my responsibilties, possibilities, etc. I was able to provide this experience in my second year to the new boardies. If we had all been new, the beginning could have been tough. So I do believe annual votes are useful.

  • I don't know if I would have been up for committing for two years before knowing the role and the workload. Last (and this) year, finally more people were interested in becoming boardies than places were available - my worry is that less people would step up if they were committing for 2 instead of one year.

  • What happens when someone decides mid-term they want to step down? Do we replace them with someone new? Does that require a new General Assembly (GA) anyway and hence creates more work anyway? So far when that happened, we were able to just wait for the next GA because it was never long away.

  • Lastly, we would still have to organise an annual GA, correct?


Owl Mon 16 Oct 2023 10:39PM

Hi Caro,

if two years appeared to be too long or clashes with your life plans, you can still resign from the board. But currently we have quite some changes every year, and that is taking some energy for handovers, and learning to work together. If the default commitment is two years, some of the time could be used more effective.

Also there will be a second advice process for the increase of the number of members of the board, that might help to ease having vacant position. Nevertheless there could be an extraordinary GA (also possible online) with a specific election.

Actually overlapping terms would be ideal (we had that at Berlin Burner e.V. until the pandemic), and might still be achievable . The current version of the bylaws would allow (from my point of view) that only a number of positions are reelected, while others are remaining in power, since their terms are not limited yet. If their position is not chosen to be re-elected, they would keep their position. That way wouldn't reduce the numbers of elections in general, but the election would cover only half of the positions.

Yes, there would still be a GA, since this is the official way for members of the association to influence the course of the association by requesting binding decisions of the members for the association. And it's in our bylaws that we have one in the last quarter of the year. But it would be shorter. You probably still want to have the finances and the "Entlastung" (takeover of responsibility away from the board members) every year. I'm not sure if longer cycles are possible, or useful.

The funny thing is, if the current board would just decide not to have elections at all anymore at the GA, they would stay in power without restriction, since their positions wouldn't end after a specific term. Thats my personal understanding, I'm not a lawyer. And there might be ways to prevent that, and it seems to be a very unlikely scenario. Nevertheless it has to be mentioned.


walto Tue 17 Oct 2023 5:06PM

I think it is a great proposal and would support this vote.


Alex Kaos Wed 18 Oct 2023 7:02PM

Thanks for formalizing this thought process and taking initiative. I'm very happy some thought is being put into the long-term development of Kiez Burn.

  • I agree that having a longer investment from board members would likely improve the overal direction and vision of Kiez Burn. I am however uncertain this is the best way to go about it.

My critic on the matter are:

  • I would not stand for board if I way expected to do 2 years. I have done 3 years of board, and am considering returning, but that is dependant on life cirucmsances, and I don't want my changing life circumstances to disrail 'the plan', as well as my personal battle with following through on commitments, if the that is to stand for 2 years. Better to commit to a year, and extend if things are fitting.

  • There is some energy/time cost with board handovers, but it is improving with culture and as the pool of boardies is expanding. The upcoming board candidates are already meeting and planning, without Franzi's traditional push. We have already planned the board kick-off-site for the weekend after the GA, and will be at the Notar for the signing within days of the GA. Handover will take a week, which is affordable time to lose, in exchange for fresh energy, initiatives and lowered commitment.

  • This year we have potentially 3 returning boardies, and many more expressed interest. As this pool of returning boardies increases, there will be improved intitative for handover and initiating initiatives. I believe we are more likely to expand this pool of competent boardies (and site leads) by lowering the barrier to entry.

  • Whilst the baord term is technically ambigious, this has never actually become a problem, and seeing as one of the responsabilities of the board is to organize an annual GA, they have it within their power to cleanly end their term. As such I woul imagine that have a 2-year term, with overlaps or whatever method is chose, would end up just as ambiguous as the practically that we currently have with ~1 year (ish).

  • I understand that nearly all of the current board members who joined the board at the last GA are stepping down after their first year. It's unlcear to me why there is a proposal to extend board duties by a year when the current board members do not wish themselves to stand for another year, and as such does match my expecations of consensual doocrocy (that the person(s) proposing the new process are realizing the proposal). This would make more sense being driven by an upcoming interested board in my opinion.


CJ Yetman Fri 20 Oct 2023 5:03PM

I think a 1 year commitment is easier and more realistic for people to make while nothing prevents someone from nominating themselves to be on the board for a second year, so it seems formalizing and requiring a 2 year term has no real benefit but does have a real negative effect.


CJ Yetman Fri 20 Oct 2023 5:08PM

Actually, thinking a bit more about this… if the elections were highly competitive and a board member had a 50/50 chance or less of being reelected for a second term, then I can imagine the benefit of guaranteeing a 2 year term. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for us now.


Cris Tue 24 Oct 2023 2:13PM

Thank you Owl, for this proposal!

I agree with some of the points shared here so far, which are not so in favor of the 2 year periods:

  • while long vision is efficient and beneficial, I believe as well there are better ways, as Alex says.

    • Here I'll remember that for the long term, we already have our 5 years "vision statement". The idea being that is the community, and not the board, who defines that.

  • I doubt it immensely, that I'd ever stepped up for board if it had been a 2 year commitment. Because.., life, and because I had no actual clue what was I jumping into. At the end, I repeated, so it was 2 years. And it had quite a nice exchange of expertise.

  • Handover have been faster and smoother every year. And if not, we could improve on that aspect.

  • I imagine that a new elected board could nevertheless plan a 2 year strategy for themselves, and present themselves as a group in the next GA.