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Old 08-08-2004   #141
bethabernathy
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Email to: execcommittee@sempo.org

Just to keep a record I emailed execcommittee@sempo.org with the following (hopefully it is o.k. to produce my own email

-------------------------

Please keep me informed of all aspects related to your hiring an Executive Director. It is my understanding, based on non-profit laws that:

"If a nonprofit does opt for a membership structure, the members participate in major corporate decisions. Specifically, the members have the exclusive right to elect directors, amend articles and bylaws and vote on a merger or dissolution of the corporation."

I would like to recommend a formal election. I would also like a copy of the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

----------------------
So we will see if they get back to me.
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Old 08-08-2004   #142
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The IRS on Non-Profit Advertising

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopick03.pdf

This can be interpreted several ways, but this is what the IRS says about Advertising for a 501(c)(6) organization:

"Advertising that carries the names of members generally constitutes the performance of particular services for members. Therefore, an association of merchants in a particular shopping center whose advertising material contained the names of the individual merchants does not qualify for exemption under IRC 501(c)(6)."

Case example: "..a shopping center merchants' association whose membership is restricted to, and required of, the tenants of a one-owner shopping center and their common lessor, and whose activities include promotional affairs and advertising to publicize the center, does not qualify as a business league or chamber of commerce under IRC 501(c)(6) because these activities are directed to promoting the general business interest of its members only, rather than the industry as a whole."

Last edited by bethabernathy : 08-08-2004 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 08-08-2004   #143
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Sempo FAQ - Cached at Yahoo

See the cached version on Yahoo:

http://66.218.71.225/search/cache?p=...8CEE38E6&icp=1

"What is SEMPO's legal status?
SEMPO is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization; Federal Tax ID #14-1891138. The organization is a 501(c)(6) chartered in the state of California. "


Now the page says:

What is SEMPO's legal status?
SEMPO is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization; Federal Tax ID #14-1891138. The organization is a 501(c)(6) chartered in the state of Delaware.

I can't find a date for the cached page at Yahoo.
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Old 08-08-2004   #144
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The page you viewed was there last week, and Google updated today. At least there are changes being made. Still have no idea why the reluctance to change the links on the about page The only conclusion I can derive is: some see no harm in it. Oh well !!!
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Old 08-08-2004   #145
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Blew out my knee

Anyway .. just a few extra hours to work as I blew out my knee. But ... bottom line is they need to get rid of the dual advertising site wide asap or they could be under scrutiny by the IRS and could be taxed.
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Old 08-09-2004   #146
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Travel Expenses and Meetings

Not sure if anyone covered this but there are over $7,000 in travel expenses for meetings - Where are these meetings and if it is Travel Expenses whose travel - If she(Barb) is speaking on behalf of SEMPO - That's great. but....I do believe she has been on a few panels as Web MAMMA.

I'm not sure what those travel fees are for but hopefully she is not using SEMPO's money for her own travel where she gets great exposure for her business.
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Old 08-09-2004   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEO Doc
Not sure if anyone covered this but there are over $7,000 in travel expenses for meetings - Where are these meetings and if it is Travel Expenses whose travel - If she(Barb) is speaking on behalf of SEMPO - That's great. but....I do believe she has been on a few panels as Web MAMMA.

I'm not sure what those travel fees are for but hopefully she is not using SEMPO's money for her own travel where she gets great exposure for her business.
Since they hold their meetings at SES (where they would all be anyway) one wonders where those travel expenses came from.

$7,000 is not a bunch though.
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Old 08-09-2004   #148
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7000

True - It's not alot - but I am just curious if that compensation occurs.

I know in Chicago (SES) they served up beverages(beer/drinks) in the meeting but I think that was sponsored by a member business.

We are members and we don't really go to the site and the first I heard of the Online requests for proposals was at the San Jose meeting. Guess we'll stay on top of the site a little better - but they do need to pump up communication.

We've offered them free services and they have never responded.
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Old 08-09-2004   #149
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You have to anti up $5000 before you are "special" and reap the many benefits the top hats get. I also think the 5 grand club gets first dibs at any RFP's.
 
Old 08-09-2004   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihelpyou
You have to anti up $5000 before you are "special" and reap the many benefits the top hats get. I also think the 5 grand club gets first dibs at any RFP's.
some people in the circle did not have to pay the $5K from what I have been told.
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Old 08-09-2004   #151
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Violation of 501(c)(6) Status - Confirmed by IRS

I personally called the IRS this a.m. and they confirmed that the dual advertising is a violation of their status as a 501(c)(6).
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Old 08-09-2004   #152
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On a mission

Wow Beth you are on a mission - you should join the board of Sempo and use your energy to push them in the right direction - or just go for the executive director gig

Do you know if they have an attorney? - (never got that email) but...the Stanford law idea is a good one. There should be policies and proceedures in place for members and sponsors....especially if one member is getting preferencial treatment over another. I believe they want to help the SEO/SEM marketplace and it is for the greater good of the industry - They just have to nail down their policies and put everyone on a level playing field - or give everyone circle status at a discount?
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Old 08-09-2004   #153
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>>>I personally called the IRS this a.m. and they confirmed that the dual advertising is a violation of their status as a 501(c)(6).

Glad to know that this isn't "cool" by legal standards, as well. You know, if the org was done right, I'd support it...however, this seems more farsical, the more facts the group here uncovers.

Those links on the site - any SEO would identify those as advertising, not just accidental links...seems under the IRS law, those would be a violation as well.

However, I know nothing about legal issues...etc, etc disclaimer.
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Old 08-09-2004   #154
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I would like to see them get their act together. First, they need to remove the dual advertising right away. Then it is required that members have the right to participate in voting.

I am not sure why they haven't been able to coordinate to get this together properly??? I think if they read through the law related to a 501(c)(6) they would immediately become a privately held company. The complete law is at:

http://www.irs.gov/irm/part7/index.html

see:

http://www.irs.gov/irm/part7/ch10s09.html

7.25.6.7.1 (10-19-1998)
Advertising Activities

I would really like to see their site cleaned up within the next 48 hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SEO Doc
you should join the board of Sempo and use your energy to push them in the right direction - or just go for the executive director gig
I have no experience running a non-profit corporation, but rcjordan does. I think he would be a good candidate.

Last edited by bethabernathy : 08-09-2004 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 08-09-2004   #155
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WOW,

I flew into San Jose a few hours earlier than I had planned just to attend the SEMPO meeting. All the chatter and talk on the boards really had my interest up. I am a member of SEMPO but to tell the truth hadn't given it much thought overall.
Mike Grehan's article though did get me to thinking and then all the chatter back and forth got me interested again.
To be honest the main reason I went, other than to see how Ms Cole responded to the chatter was to listen to the questions and answers at the end.
I was HIGHLY dissapointed at the presentation that was put forth by SEMPO. They gave very few compelling or solid answers to any of the questions brought up in the forums and on the floor.

What I really wanted and needed to hear from them (the Leadership) was a plan of action for the next year, and a plan of action on how to address the issues (both real and percieved) brought up in the last few weeks.

This I didn't hear. I did hear "Today we launched a Marketing Plan" !!! Super, why as members did we not know this. Why isn't this information contained within the member's section of the website? Why don't they use the website as a means of communications. It's funny but an org that is designed to promote and industry that at it's core is about communications is failing at just that.

They often said if you want, minutes, marketing plan etc. email and they will send it to you. My question is WHY should I have to ask. I'm a paying member I should be able to access it via the web or at the very least have it mailed to me.

My last bit of ranting, Ms Cole was VERY nervous when she took the podium. She should a have been, she still should be. When she wasn't assailed in the meeting she quickly lost her nervousness and felt that everything is ok. It was intersting to watch. There are alot of things they have done... Getting on thier feet is the first major step. There is a long way to go, unfortunately I don't think Ms Cole has the capabilities to lead the org where it has to go. She's done a fair job this past year.. they gave themselfs a C or C- I don't remember, I do remember that I thought that was a tad high overall..

Ah enough of my ranting.. The next year should be interesting and I want to thank Mike Grehan for lighting a fire when he could have just let it lie and eventually die.

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Old 08-09-2004   #156
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I made an email request to Sempo asking them to remove the personal advertising within 48 hours. I got an automated response from F. Marckini w/ a spam block request. So we will see. I am determined to get that site cleaned up.
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Old 08-09-2004   #157
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When you say "spam blot", did he advertise something other than a SEMPO link in that autoresponder?
 
Old 08-09-2004   #158
bethabernathy
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No other than it came from: [Edit - sorry, I think fredrick's direct business email is best left out of this discussion, as well as any other personal/biz addresses should be - Elisabeth]

I am now thinking that requiring you to pay to attend an SES conference to get into a Sempo meeting seems highly unethical. ... and I certainly cannot afford to go to Sweden.

Last edited by Elisabeth : 08-09-2004 at 06:09 PM. Reason: took frederick's direct email out.
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Old 08-09-2004   #159
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Quote:
I am now thinking that requiring you to pay to attend an SES conference to get into a Sempo meeting seems highly unethical.
It this were the case it would be unethical, however, it is not the case. The meetings are held in conjunction with SES, but one is not required to pay for the SES portion. I believe, there are also meetings scheduled at other venues.
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Old 08-09-2004   #160
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I want Danny Sullivan to write what he "honestly" thought about the meeting and the direction.
So I'm back now that the show is over, digging out from under a billion backlogged emails and also going through various forum threads. Thought I'd start with this one.

What did I think? I thought it could have been a lot better, but it may also have been that as others have noted, the actual people who are members and were present may not share the same concerns. Or more likely, there were some concerns, but few really wanted to voice them so much publicly.

The initial overview that Barbara gave I thought was generally good. You realized there has been work going on. The member base has grown -- the formation of an entire Japanese chapter was remarkable.

The new ad campaign they are running is important. One of the tasks of the group was aimed to do was to raise spending on search engine marketing, and they're targeting those who may still fail to get the message -- traditional advertisers. The "Top Of Line" slogan didn't resonate much with me initially -- but I'm not a traditional advertiser. If you are, this might have much more impact. Notably, the ads didn't push any particular SEMPO member that I can recall. They pushed the idea of buying into search primarily, and SEMPO secondarily.

Others have mentioned there was the admission of problems with communication, the mention of bringing in new board members and the covering of Barbara's stipend. All of this helped to defuse some of the obvious tension in the room, but not all of it.

I could have done without the sponsored presentations entirely. I especially would have liked to have seen them gone to allow much more time for Q&A. I'm guessing these sponsors had already been promised time by SEMPO, so they may have felt the time needed to go forward.

Rick's talk on the research he's conducting I thought was really good. We have so little idea of what makes up our industry. We honestly don't know if we're all big shops, small shops, pure SEO, pure advertising, what our issues are or even how they split up within us. So some research here is long overdue, and I thought it was great to see SEMPO driving it.

The time for questions was entirely too short. I'd have loved to have seen the audience perhaps polled on various things that have been raised in the forums. Should SEMPO eliminate membership levels? Should the entire board step up for renewal more quickly? Should SEMPO do A, B, C? Anything that might have more directly raised some of the issues raised over the past week would have been great.

I honestly couldn't get a read on the outcome. I've talked with two or three people who definitely had concerns and worries. When I asked why they didn't raise them, it seemed to be because they felt there wasn't time to get into it or they prefered to do it privately. So there was definitely a sense of all not being settled. Yet, there was also a sense of perhaps a good number not being as concerned as you hear in the forums.

Overall, I'd still like to see the board elections stepped up more quickly, to help solve the confidence crisis that I think hangs out there. I think it would be an excellent idea to have only lower-cost individual memberships (say $150) plus slightly higher-cost corportate memberships (say $300-$500) to help eliminate the concern over elitism. As for focus and communication, the group definitely needs more of that. But one of the hardest issues remains -- getting people to step up and volunteer. It's very easy to sit back and say they should do this, that and have done it better. And all those criticisms remain valid. But actually fixing things takes work. One bit of good news is that one board member told me afterward they had a number of new people step forward volunteering to help.

In summary, I think there are plenty of people within SEMPO with concerns but perhaps feeling like they may wish to give the group a bit more time to reform. It obviously can't happen at once. I expect Jill summarizes it well -- she said that if it was renewal time for her, she wouldn't. Others will be hitting renewal points over the coming months. In effect, that will be a vote of confidence for SEMPO. If members don't see actions they like, they'll start dropping off.
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