Chartering a DSA Chapter

This web page sets forth the policies and procedures any group of DSA members will need to follow in order to officially charter or recharter a state (or multi-state, regional) chapter. To facilitate the formation of DSA Chapters, the DSA Board of Trustees provides this document, as well as a Chapter Bylaws draft (or template), which each Chapter must adopt in order to formally charter, but which it may amend so that the governance model its members adopt reflects its particular circumstance and context, and meet its unique needs.

Background and Definitions

The Dalcroze Society of America consists of a network of interrelated entities, comprised of its general membership, its Board of Trustees--which administers to that membership at the national level and acts on its behalf--and its Chapters. Each DSA Chapter administers to a segment of the DSA’s general membership at the local and/or regional levels; and it acts on behalf of these particular members.

As with the DSA Board of Trustees, a DSA Chapter is a legal and financial entity that exists to empower us, as DSA members, to fulfill our organizational purpose as set forth in the DSA Constitution, Article II (see Appendix 1, below). As general members of the DSA, we are owners of, and stakeholders in the Dalcroze Society of America. By extension, any segment of the general membership that the DSA Board of Trustees charters as a local or regional Chapter is made of up of these same stakeholders; and just as the DSA Board of Trustees is answerable to its general membership, so too is any DSA Chapter and its Chapter Board answerable to the segment of our general membership it represents at the local or regional level.  

As subsidiaries of the DSA, DSA Chapters enjoy certain rights and privileges extended to them by our Board of Trustees. For example, by virtue of the DSA’s status as a not-for-profit corporation, as defined by Article 501(c)(3) of the United States tax code--and by virtue of the public good such organizations provide American citizens--DSA Chapters may enjoy group exemption from national, state, and local taxes. Group exemption entitles DSA Chapters to conduct fundraising activities; and it entitles the Chapter’s donors to claim a tax deduction for their charitable giving to the Chapter.   

DSA Chapters sustain their status as DSA subsidiaries by ensuring that their activities are compliant with the DSA’s Bylaws. Doing so entails reporting to the DSA Board of Trustees on a regular basis by submitting their meeting minutes to the DSA Secretary. The DSA Board of Trustees holds sole authority to recognize any group of members as a DSA Chapter; and it reserves the right to withhold such recognition if any group fails to comply with the DSA Bylaws.

Formal Procedure

The DSA Board authorizes any group of DSA members in good standing who want to form a DSA Chapter to do so by taking the following steps:

  1. Identify a group of five (5) or more DSA members (see Appendix 2: A note on the constituency of DSA Chapters and Chapter Boards, below) who meet the following criteria:
    1. All of them live in the same state of the United States of America and a DSA Chapter does not already exist in that state. (The DSA recognizes multi-state, regional chapters as well as state chapters; but in both cases, one’s Chapter membership is based on his or her state of residence).
    2. They all live and/or work in the same geographical area (typically an urban center), and their homes and/or work places are located near enough to one another that all will benefit from establishing a DSA Chapter and enjoy the opportunities DSA Chapters provide for their members.
    3. They all share a commitment to advancing the vision and the mission of the Dalcroze Society of America (see Appendix 1, below).
  2. Hold a preliminary meeting in order to:
    1. Forge a shared vision of what it will mean to have a DSA Chapter in their area.
    2. Gauge the strength of their intention to work together to establish and maintain the Chapter and their capacity for following through on this intention.
    3. Identify the individuals who will take up key leadership positions and hold these positions long enough to establish this new entity as a functional body. At this stage in the process these individuals do not need to be formally elected as officers by the membership in order to move forward. That action comes later.
  3. The proposed DSA Chapter leadership will then take the following steps:
    1. Review the Chapter Bylaws draft/template and amend it so the membership will formally adopt it as the Chapter’s Bylaws.
      1. To aid you in adaptation of your bylaws, we have prepared templates for each of the chapters that you may edit. (Contact us for "edit" permissions.) Chapters are not required to use the Google Drive version.
        1. California Chapter Template
        2. New England Chapter Template
        3. New York Chapter Template
        4. Northwest Chapter Template
        5. Rocky Mountain Template
    2. Secure the membership’s formal approval of the Chapter Bylaws for adoption as the Chapter’s governance model.
      1. Submit the amended draft/template to the membership for their review.
      2. Call a meeting in which the membership votes on a motion to approve the Bylaws for adoption.
      3. At this meeting, someone must be designated to take Minutes (notes) that provide a formal record of the motion to approve and the results of the vote.
    3. Apply to the DSA Board of Trustees for an official charter as a DSA Chapter. The application will include:
      1. A letter of application (cover letter) that lists the names of the DSA members seeking the charter.
      2. The Chapter Bylaws these members voted to approve.
      3. The Minutes from the meeting at which the membership formally adopted the Chapter Bylaws.
    4. Negotiate any disagreements that surface in the course of this approval process and arrive at final set of Bylaws that reflects the understanding the Chapter leadership shares with the DSA Board of Trustees regarding the model of governance the Chapter will ultimately adopt. At its next meeting, the DSA Board of Trustees will then vote on a motion to officially approve the Chapter’s charter, and the Minutes from this meeting will constitute formal recognition of the Chapter’s official status as a DSA Chapter.
    5. Hold an official meeting to formally initiate operations as a DSA Chapter and officially elect officers to the leadership positions set forth in the Bylaws. (Note: After the DSA Board of Trustees formally recognizes a DSA Chapter, the Chapter Secretary will be responsible for sending the Chapter Board’s meeting Minutes to the DSA Secretary on a regular basis.)
  4. Charge the Chapter Treasurer to open a business account with a local bank in the Chapter’s name.
    1. Apply to the IRS for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). (The DSA can only extend group exemption from tax liability to Chapters that have attained their own EIN. For help, contact the DSA Administrator at
    2. Determine the site that will serve as the Chapter’s physical mailing address, where the Treasurer will receive correspondence, checks, and invoices (this can be a PO box, an existing organization willing to house the chapter, or the private residence of the Treasurer).
    3. Determine the local bank where the Chapter will conduct its business and open a business account. For a number of practical reasons, it is prudent for the Chapter’s bank account to have two signatories assigned to it; so one other Chapter member should accompany the Treasurer to the bank and provide his or her name for this purpose; preferably another Chapter officer, such as the Vice-President, or some other Chapter member who is ready and able to step into the role of Chapter Treasurer should the need arise.  
  5. Begin planning and administering the events and other activities that will serve the DSA members who are local to this Chapter, as well as bring in newcomers.  

Current as of 2018.03.29
William R. Bauer, DSA Executive Director


Appendix 1: The DSA National Constitution, Article II, sets forth the DSA’s mission as follows:

The DSA is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to serving the following threefold purpose pertaining to the professional practice of Dalcroze Education, the extended global community of practitioners and institutions dedicated to this practice, and the general public’s awareness and appreciation of it. Accordingly, this purpose is meant to:

Appendix 2: Note on the constituency of DSA Chapters and Chapter Boards

A DSA Chapter consists of more than just the individuals who will serve on its Chapter Board. So, while it is possible to constitute a Chapter Board with only three (3) officers, the minimum number of prospective chapter members is five (5). This ensures that there are more DSA members interested in forming a chapter than just those who want to serve on the Board. It also increases the chance that the Chapter Board may actually have more than three members, which is not optimum.