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How to Write a Recommendation or Bylaw Amendment Recommendation for the House of Delegates

A carefully considered, well crafted recommendation has a much better chance of being adopted by the House and will minimize any confusion or debate on the floor of the House during its annual meeting.

What is a recommendation of the House of Delegates?

A recommendation submitted to the House of Delegates (HOD) is something a member(s) is suggesting they would like to see action on.  They are usually regarding AMTA bylaws, AMTA’S mission and goals, matters internal to the HOD and business of the association in general.

Recommendation process

  • An individual member or group of members may develop recommendations.
  •  They are considered by a Chapter and must be approved and submitted to the House of Delegates Operations Committee (HODOC) by that Chapter. An individual member may NOT submit a recommendation without the vote and approval of the Chapter or Chapter Board of Directors. 
  • The HODOC reviews the recommendation and forwards it to all of the delegates.
  • After receiving the recommendation it is the responsibility of each individual delegate to solicit feedback on the recommendation from the membership they represent. This can be done at a Chapter/Unit meeting or per chapter guidelines for delegates, or in any other way the delegate chooses as appropriate.
  • Using this feedback to help form an opinion on the recommendation, the delegate goes to the House of Delegates meeting where the recommendation is debated and voted on.
  • If the recommendation passes the House of Delegates, it is submitted to the National Board of Directors (NBOD) for consideration. It is up to the NBOD if they would like to act on the recommendation or not. They may accept the recommendation as is, modify it, or reject the idea completely. The recommendation does not have any force of action until the NBOD chooses if, when, and how to act upon it. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the author of the recommendation to keep certain ideas in mind. What follows are a few ideas to consider in assuring your recommendation be passed and implemented.

The first thing to consider when planning on making a recommendation is this: Is it needed?

Is the issue you are attempting to address covered in the current by-laws and policies of the organization? Before beginning the long process of drafting and presenting a recommendation, it is wise to review these, and any other relevant documents of the organization. Being familiar with these instruments will help you answer the second question.

Is the recommendation consistent with existing policy?

How does the issue you are addressing relate to the current policies and bylaws of the organization? Does the idea you want to promote agree with or conflict with current policies and bylaws?

Frequently, recommendations are rejected, or sent back to the chapter because they violate some provision of bylaws or national policy. It is permissible to submit a recommendation that would promote a change in the bylaws or policy (Bylaw Amendment Recommendation). If this is your intention, the recommendation should clearly state it is intended to change policy with an explanation of how and why.

Is a recommendation in the House of Delegates the appropriate forum to discuss this issue?

There are many avenues to provide feedback to the NBOD. Any issue regarding the actions and functioning of the organization or issues related to the profession are permitted to be brought before the House of Delegates. Recommendations of the House of Delegates are not appropriate forums for personal vendettas or criticism of the organization, its' board or individual officers or members.

Is it legal?

The House of Delegates will not consider recommendations that violate local, state, or federal statues. Recommendations that would alter our tax-exempt status, or result in lengthy litigation would be ill conceived and be rejected.

Do you have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish?

Recommendations should have clear goals and address specific issues. Carefully consider what your desired outcome will be, and be able to express that outcome clearly. 

Recommendations are considered as presented, they can not be amended on the floor of the House of Delegates. 

If it is not clear what you hope to accomplish, and why this organization should attempt to accomplish that goal, debate will be difficult and frustrating and your recommendation will flounder. This is not to say that your recommendation must include exacting specific ways to accomplish your goal.

Let us say your recommendation would be to accomplish a specific goal. You may choose different avenues to achieve this. One avenue would be to write a very specific recommendation that the NBOD change national policies and specifically state what sections of policies are to be changed and how. A less specific way to approach the issue would be to have the recommendation ask the NBOD to accomplish the goal by changing polices or procedures as they see appropriate. There will also be times when a clear problem or goal is appropriate for a recommendation but a clear solution is not evident. An appropriate recommendation might be to suggest the formation of a workgroup to investigate the issue and make their own recommendation on how to meet the goal of the recommendation. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. A very specific recommendation might be needed if you have a very specific goal in mind. However, a better solution to the problem might be presented in debate at the House of Delegates meeting. In this case the recommendation might fail because the specific solutions presented in the recommendation are not the best way to handle the problem, even though the problem clearly needs to be addressed by the NBOD. You only get one shot each year, make it count.

Is your recommendation well crafted?

Sometimes English can be a frustrating language. Words do have an exact meaning, and are subject to the rules of grammar. The document that you submit to the House of Delegates becomes a part of our organization’s public record. Individuals outside of our organization may have access to those documents; they should be well written and properly formatted. Beyond the potential for embarrassment, the tragedy of a good idea being rejected because it is poorly presented is completely avoidable with a little groundwork up front.

Remember that recommendations are considered and debated as presented. You will not have the opportunity to explain what you really meant to say. Once presented, recommendations cannot be amended. Use the spell checker and grammar check on your computer. Before you begin the process of gaining your chapter’s consideration of the recommendation, have disinterested third parties read and comment on your draft.

Recommendations that include good ideas but are written negatively are usually defeated on the basis of the way they are written regardless of the intent of the recommendation. Remember we are a professional association and present your ideas in a clear way with supporting facts rather than emotions.

Is your recommendation feasible?

On the surface it may seem like a good idea to raise the bar and require that members hold a Master of Science degree in Nursing, Health Care, or Wellness. However, to actually adopt such a standard would reduce the number of therapists eligible for membership to a point where the organization would no longer be viable. A well-intentioned idea can, in practice, be impossible to implement. Look at the costs and practicality of your recommendation before submission. Look at the ultimate goal of your intention and try to suggest the most efficient and practical way of reaching that goal.

Does your recommendation deal with the practice of massage?

We are the American Massage Therapy Association. Avoid recommendations that take a political, social, or religious position; or deal with any issue not related directly to massage therapy, or the policies and practices of our association. 

How do you write a recommendation?

First, the definition of a recommendation is a suggestion or suggestions that something need(s) to be done or considered for change, clarification or improvement of our organization. A recommendation should be written in a specific format. There are two sections to a recommendation.

The first paragraph(s) begins with "Whereas." The definition of whereas is "it being the case that." So the paragraphs would give a general view of the issue. The following paragraphs would begin with whereas and would include statements of fact that would indicate the need for action to be taken on the recommendation and support for the conclusions of the recommendation. This portion is where you formally state your case for the recommendation.

The next paragraph begins with the statement, "Therefore, be it resolved that the House of Delegates recommends to the National Board of Directors that...." This is the portion where the actual recommendation or action requested by the document is stated. Remember to be clear in stating your goals. If you see a clear solution or direction for the organization to follow, then state clearly your specific recommendation(s).

When writing a Bylaw Amendment Recommendation be sure to include the old policy with strikethrough and then include the new policy in bold.


We hope this document helps you in preparing and submitting recommendations to the House of Delegates. These recommendations are a vital form of member input to the association and have resulted in many favorable changes and improvements of our association. We look forward to receiving your input through recommendations to the House of Delegates and also for suggestions on how to improve this guide. If you have any suggestions, see any member of the House of Delegates Operations Committee.

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