I have been thinking a lot about non-profit boards, and what I have experienced with the organizations I have been involved with. The challenges and rewards.
I ran across an opinion article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Every Board”s Guide to Strong Organizational Leadership in 2011, by Michael W. Pergrine. He speaks about the challenges of growing competition for funds, government”s questioning of tax breaks as well as scandals such as embezzlement and high salaries and perks for NPO leaders, and because of that, directors and trustees need to be even more diligent in their oversight.
It is more important than ever that the leadership of an organization be knowledgeable on their fiduciary responsibilities and be attentive.
And while most board members are passionate about focusing on
the cause their organizations promote, they must recognize that
their aggressive role in oversight will help to preserve and expand
the ability of their nonprofits to serve the public interest.
If you are a board member of an organization, here are just a few of the areas you should be concerned about:
- Fundraising practices: is your organization following the wishes of the donors, are they aware of state and local solicitation laws?
- How much of a difference does your organization make: Make sure that everyone is following the same strategic goals, and keeps the mission in mind.
- Do you have an audit committee? and are they doing their job? Is your organization keeping abreast of new regulations and laws.
- Executive compensation
- Board structure and size and term limits:
- Avoid conflicts of interest, making adequate and timely disclosures of potential conflicts of interest, is not just for legal reasons, but also any appearance of partiality can harm an organizations reputation.
Members should also challenge traditional assumptions about governance structure and consider alternatives that offer increased oversight, efficient processes, and diversity of perspective.
Screening processes to nominate new members should concentrate on candidate qualifications, time commitment, independence, and fitness to serve.
Leadership in an organization means many things, don”t just “show-up” at your next board meeting, if you really want to help your organization through these trying times.
What else do you think board members can do?