Sander’s Early Contributions

(A Partial Summary)

The following table summarizes many of the major contributions Sander made to the establishment of Mensa's traditions based on the vision of Victor Serebriakoff. In each case, Sander was the implementor of the action or directly supervised others following his initiatives.

A. Problem B. Condition C. Change D. Result

Members felt Mensa did not belong to them. Dissonance between the PR pitch and the actuality.

AMC held closed meetings. Excuse: “We would have to hire Yankee Stadium.”.
Unhearing attitude: “We can do as we want.”

Open meetings (1967)
Conformed actions to intentions.

Problem gone.
AMC accountable to those members who approached them

Business not done.
Issues not debated.

Meetings conducted as a “family gathering”. A “club within a club”.

Shifted from personal “friendships” to Mensa business issues.

Business done.

"The government [business] of Mensa is conducted in a cloud above Iceland."

Decisions referred from NY to London and bounced back.

Negotiated national autonomy with International officers.(1967); applied functional analysis rather than structural principles.

Killed excuses for inaction. Took national responsibility for national functions.
Established the tradition of negotiation among equals in lieu of hierarchical structure.

Alienated local groups
Members not kept informed of activities in local groups timely.


Heavy handed polices:
1. Newsletters barred from using Mensa in their names.
2. Demand that all activities be reported through the Bulletin.

1 Established policy that LGs were part of Mensa, entitled to use name.
2. Set up LG calendar subsidy (paid for out of savings by sending Bulletin by 2nd Class (periodical) mail.

Laid basis for a truly national organization.
Created policy to use economic incentives, rather than directives, to let LGs adopt actions that benefit whole society.

Mensa faced bankruptcy and potential fraud investigations.

Obligations to members were not recognized in accounts.

Shifted from cash accounting to quasi-accrual accounting .

Discovered Mensa's true financial picture, need to increase dues to stay solvent.

Mensa faced embarrassing scrutiny.

AMC had incorporated as an “educational” institution under provisional NY Board of Regents charter, but could not sustain conditions for ultimate approval.

Changed to not-for-profit 501(c)(4) corporation.
Established MERF to fulfill Mensa's charitable and educational goals.

Avoided major legal problems and embarrassment. Served the diverse goals of Mensa.

Mensa was not performing its “benefit of humanity” functions as stated it its Constitution.

Mensa had no legal structure in the US for fulfilling its eleemosynary objectives.

Conceived a separate Mensa Education and Research Foundation (MERF).
Drafted MERF's charter.

Launched a major function of Mensa comporting with its original intentions.

Management inefficiency.

Renewals processed on members’ anniversaries. Monthly process operated continuously.

Membership processing put on an annual common date basis. (This method is used by most societies.)

Numerous benefits:
1. Budget planning not subject to random fluctuations. Reliable year-to-year comparisons possible.
2. Annual pause to re-tool the record-keeping system.
3. More efficient renewal PR directed at all members, not individuals.
4. Simple determination of members' voting rights.

Management inefficiency.

Member records kept manually.

Established first records computerization.

More reliable and ultimately less expensive data management.

Failure to deliver essential member benefits

Essence of Mensa was communication between members, but there was no up-to-date member list.

Established first annual (or biennial) member list by direct printing from official records. Sent as (nearly) free benefit to all members who submitted a self-addressed 9"×12" envelope.

Established that National Mensa's first obligation was to give value to members, not to legislate.
Economized by using “on request” distribution, member action saving overhead.

Inefficient responses to LG's financial needs..
AMC burdened with unnecessary detail.

Created RVC funds system, block grants to be disbursed by RVCs.

Stopped micromanaging from afar. Countered a sense of hierarchy.

Devolution of responsibility to those close to the issue.
A “rounder table”.

The above table sets out facts, conditions, and actions that occurred in the early days of American Mensa. It cannot convey context, intentions, and personalities that framed those objective statements. I can only offer a reference to my 1973 Annual Report that memorializes Sander's own intentions. Those intentions, for the most part, remain at this date.

Copyright © 2004 Sander Rubin
Created: 07 Apr 04
Revised: 23 Apr 04