The days of faceless men on boards and committees is over, focus and transparency are vital.
Being customer focused is critical for effective board or committee members.
Your non-profit committee will generally have the same problems of most other community and non-profit committees, poorly run and poorly conceived, making progress slow and uninteresting.
One of the problems is that in many situations anybody that puts their hand up can be on the committee. There is no consideration given to experience and ability to perform and assume the responsibilities that go with it.
The ‘passive’ management committee and the frustrated leader or manager trying to get them to fulfil their roles and responsibilities is one of the big issues in a non-profit environment. On the other hand, most committees are by no means perfect, but they think that they are doing alright.
The difficulty with committees is that they are faced with what seems to be ever increasing calls on their time to deal with the important and necessary responsibilities, including such things are planning, finance, marketing, operations, and human resources, much of which they have very little experience.
Also, a delegation of powers does not necessarily mean a delegation of responsibility for the carrying out of those powers. The days of the ‘passive’ committee member are well and truly over.
A Board, on the other hand, should be made up of the most skilled and knowledgeable people available. Those who have good managerial skills and experience within the community. You should also look for people who are committed and prepared to put in the work and accept the associated responsibilities. As a minimum, they should also have a good general understanding of the purpose, values and objectives of the organisation that they represent.
“A true measure of a director’s success lies in holding firm to the letter and spirit of the organisation’s core principles and staying focused”. Peter Sergeant
Where possible it is a good idea that day-to-day responsibilities are delegated to management and paid staff to run the day to day operations. This leaves the Board Members free to be focused on the purpose, vision and objectives of the organisation and to exercise good governance.
With the increased responsibilities and compliance work of today, it makes recruitment and retaining Board Members difficult. This means excessive time being spent on recruiting the right members, again leaving less time to deal with other important tasks of the organisation.
It needs to be understood that often the Board is a statutory requirement of a Not-for-profit organisation. All Board members are obliged at law to fulfil their duties including the duty of due care and diligence. The outcomes for failure to do so, should the organisation fail with outstanding debts, could see Board Members personally liable. For some people, this is a very frightening thought, particularly when dealing with people with little Board or business experience.
At common law, the duty of care includes the strategic decision-making function and an ongoing monitoring role of the activities of the management team.
The frustrated leader or manager should consider some up-to-date Board training so Board Members may better understand why they are on the Board and their duties in taking up such an important role, no matter how small the organisation.
The benefits to members of a non-profit organisation usually emanate from a greatly improved management performance that can deal with their problems and frustrations and meet their wants and needs.
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I have seen it all too often where the members of an organisation do not appreciate the real role of Boards and expect all Board members to become involved in the day to day activities.
Where you have boards who are not focused on what is vitally important for the organisation, then chaos reigns.