My understanding is that there are two main organizational structures for a nonprofit: one with a board of directors, and the other (only possible in some US states) to have a board of directors, where the members have voting rights to elect and replace members of the board of directors.
In this latter case, the members still only have indirect control. The board of directors has absolute control over the organization and could do anything they pleased with it, even against the wishes of the membership. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)
Is it possible to set up a nonprofit so that the members have complete control over the organization, in decisions large and small? I realize that seems difficult logistically--I have some thoughts on that. My concern here is how to do it legally. The members should feel they have the final say over what the organization does, even more than executive officers of the company or a board of directors.
Mainly, I greatly dislike the idea of a small, random group of directors being able to make decisions the membership would not want.
More specifically, I have a very unusual idea: imagine, say, that each member has a certain number of votes, based on how long they have been a member, how much effort they have contributed and how far they have proceeded through the group's educational program. Imagine that the founder, or founders, has a huge number of votes. In the early days, while the organization is small, the founders would essentially have total control. As membership grows, the founders' votes would represent a smaller and smaller portion of the total votes. Eventually they would only possess a tiny percentage of the total votes. They would be influencers, in a mild way, but would have little control. By this point the membership would be large enough that there would be no realistic chance of a special interest group seizing control of the popular vote and thus, the organization. This concept seems to me to be feasible, but I don't know if there's a way to get away with it legally in a nonprofit.
The most relevant post on this site would seem to be Is a nonprofit LLC required to have a Board of Directors?, but I'm not sure that it actually answers my questions.