Board roles & responsibilities

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The Dynamics of Funding: Considering Reliability and Autonomy

This resource, developed by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, presents a framework for assessing an agency’s financial support based on the reliability and flexibility of decision-making that is available for an organization. This document begins by exploring several key funding issues that non-profits face, particularly in the realm of conditional funding and stringent reporting requirements that may hinder the performance of activities by restricting funds to a narrow range of activities (p 1). The document goes on to explore how agencies can identify funding sources and rank them in terms of a reliability scale and the impact these funding sources have on the ability of agencies to act autonomously and conduct their work (p 2-3). The article ends by discussing some of implications of the various levels of autonomy on non-profit boards and their associated skillsets which are needed to access resources (p 4-5).

Pratt, J. (2002). The Dynamics of Funding: Considering Reliability and Autonomy. Nonprofit Quartlery, Vol. 9(3). 1-7. Boston, United States. 

Discover Total Resources: A Guide for Nonprofits

This resource, developed by Mellon Financial Corporation, is a descriptive checklist used by directors, boardYour board of directors provides governance to your organization. members, staff

For our purposes, staff refers to agency employees who are neither managers nor executive directors.

, and volunteers to audit how well organizations are capitalizing on available resources and making full use of their assets. It begins by defining the notion of ‘total resources’, that is, resource procurement should not come at the expense of existing resources but rather agencies should manage a variety of resources that strengthen and support existing resources (p 4).  For example, the document cites how organizations can capitalize on the multiple human resources already at its disposal plus strategies for tapping into other sources  including: consumer, corporations, alumni, political organizations, unions, as well as other potential sources (p 5-10). Of importance is the section which examines financial management

Includes an organization’s Executive Director and managers, but not staff or supervisors. See also definition for “staff.”

, funding diversification and innovative ways to engage in fundraising (p 11-33). A variety of case studies to illustrate each of the focus areas is also included.

 

Mellon Financial Corporation. (2000). Discover Total Resources: A Guide for Nonprofits. 1-55.

 

Questions Only a Parent Would Ask: An Exercise for Evaluating the Impact of Social Enterprise in Your Non-Profit Organization

This resource, developed by Vancity Community

The broad group of people who are stakeholders of an organization. Extending beyond the people that enter our buildings and use our services, an organization’s community may include cultural groups, sectoral partners, and other groups of people joined together by common identity, geography, and other bonds. Often where we use ‘community’ the word is actually short for multiple communities.

Foundation as part of their Demonstrating Value initiative, is an activity guidebook intended for agencies to use to revisit the expectations for initiating a social enterprise and its potential benefits. A set of questions are presented that are related to various aspects and impact of social enterprise on an agency including: organizational cultural implications (p 3), its impact on external relations (p 3), infrastructure considerations (p 4), and organizational structure

Organizations can be divided into three major areas that help it to fulfill its mission: governance, work and management (Grant & Crutchfield, 2007). Governance is the source of strategic decisions that shape the organization and its work and where, ultimately, accountability lies. Work refers to the implementation of activities and tasks that must get done to fulfill the organization’s mission. Management is the link between governance and work and includes the day‐to‐day direction of tasks, people, relationships, finances, and technology to get the job done. Organizational structure refers to these 3 areas and how they interact/work together to accomplish an organization’s mission.

and skills (p 6).  

Vancity Community Foundation. (March 2010). Questions Only a Parent Would Ask: An Exercise for Evaluating the Impact of Social Enterprise in Your Non-Profit Organization. 1-6. Vancouver, Canada. 

Primer for Directors of Not-For-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties and Practices

This resource, developed by Industry Canada, is a multi-purpose resource for directors that is designed to draw attention and alert them to their legal rights and obligations, outline the roles and the relationships between directors and staff

For our purposes, staff refers to agency employees who are neither managers nor executive directors.

members (including boardYour board of directors provides governance to your organization. members), and strategies for assessing and mitigating risks. This resource begins with defining non-profits and exploring the mandates of non-profits (p 3-6) and also highlights accountability issues and key elements of good governanceRefers to the source of strategic thinking and decisions that shape and direct an organization and its work and where, ultimately, accountability lies. Includes anything related to non‐profit boards as well as strategic leadership issues., various jurisdictions, and the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation (p 8-12). Sample checklists and summaries serve as easy to use reference guides that can used to guide the development or enhancement of existing policies. Among these checklists include: duties of board members ( p 29), a liability checklist (p 44), and a rights and powers checklist (p 52).

 

Industry Canada. (2002). Primer for Directors of Not-For-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties and Practices. 1-99. Ottawa, Canada.

Directors’ and Officers’ Liability: How Are You Managing?

 

This resource, developed by Volunteer Alberta, is a document that provides an overview of the responsibilities of executive directors according to the various areas under their domain (p 3-4). It explores the idea of risk and the process of risk management

Risk management involves examining a situation and 1) identifying what can go wrong, 2) identifying measures to avoid such problems, and 3) if something does go wrong, identifying steps that can be taken to lessen the negative impact. These measures may include the use of policies, procedures, and protections (such as insurance or education). Risks can be related, for example, to financial loss, workplace safety issues including abuse & physical harm or injury, property damage, or loss of reputation.

by outlining the various claimants and potential stakeholders (p 7) as well as key warning signs directors should be aware of that indicate an increase in potential risks to the director, boardYour board of directors provides governance to your organization. members and agency. The document also includes decision analysis models which outline the capacity for managing risk (p 10) how actions taken to mitigate and avoid risks can be communicated to stakeholders (p 12).

Volunteer Alberta. (2011). Directors’ and Officers’ Liability: How Are You Managing? 1-19. Edmonton, Canada.

            

 

Directors’ Liability: A Discussion Paper on Legal Liability, Risk Management and the Role of Directors in Non-Profit Organizations

 

This resource, developed by Volunteer Canada, intends to raise awareness of the legal risks facing directors and to offer directors and organizations some practical suggestions for minimizing these legal risks (p 4). The article begins that although over 40% of Canadian volunteers hold positions on non-profit boards and committees, many individuals are unaware of the legal ramifications of their volunteer work. This work examines some of the legal duties of directors, which include due diligence, loyalty, and obedience (p 5) and also offers guidelines for how directors can avoid and protect themselves from any legal action taken against them or their agency (p 11-13).

Volunteer Canada. (2002). Directors’ Liability: A Discussion Paper on Legal Liability, Risk Management

Risk management involves examining a situation and 1) identifying what can go wrong, 2) identifying measures to avoid such problems, and 3) if something does go wrong, identifying steps that can be taken to lessen the negative impact. These measures may include the use of policies, procedures, and protections (such as insurance or education). Risks can be related, for example, to financial loss, workplace safety issues including abuse & physical harm or injury, property damage, or loss of reputation.

and the Role of Directors in Non-Profit Organizations. 1-15. Ottawa, Canada.

 

20 Questions Directors of Not-For-Profit Organizations Should Ask About Risk

 

This resource, developed by the Risk Management

Risk management involves examining a situation and 1) identifying what can go wrong, 2) identifying measures to avoid such problems, and 3) if something does go wrong, identifying steps that can be taken to lessen the negative impact. These measures may include the use of policies, procedures, and protections (such as insurance or education). Risks can be related, for example, to financial loss, workplace safety issues including abuse & physical harm or injury, property damage, or loss of reputation.

and GovernanceRefers to the source of strategic thinking and decisions that shape and direct an organization and its work and where, ultimately, accountability lies. Includes anything related to non‐profit boards as well as strategic leadership issues. BoardYour board of directors provides governance to your organization. of Canada of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, provides a series of questions that executive directors can use to better understand and mitigate potential risks that their agency may face. The document delves into detail regarding defining both ‘risk’ and ‘risk management’ and how various risks can be identified by both the executive director and the board. In addition, it outlines the various duties and responsibilities for each party in relation to assessing and addressing organizational risks. The document is divided into three distinct sections: risk context and policy (p 4), managing risk (p 11), and monitoring and learning (p 20)

Lindsay, Hugh. (2009). 20 Questions Directors of Not-For-Profit Organizations Should Ask about Risk. 1-36. Toronto, Canada.

 

The Operations Plan

 

As more and more non-profits are exploring opportunities to diversify their funding, social enterprise is an option that agencies are exploring with greater frequency. This resource is intended to provide information and as a guide for agencies to use in order to produce an operations guide that can be used for social enterprise. A variety of diagrams and flow charts are included to better illustrate the required inputs in order to produce an effective operations plan. Among these, exercises are included for agencies to use and fill out so they can identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies and any information-sharing deficits within an enterprise.

Alter, S (Virtue Ventures).(2000). The Operations Plan. 1-52. Seattle, United States. 

 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Funding Diversification and Program Evaluation But Were Afraid to Ask

 

This resource, developed by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa, is part of this agency’s annual consultation to address issues facing non-profits in the Ottawa area. This report identifies many significant trends and issues affecting non-profit agencies including a sense of volatility in the sector

Used broadly to define a group or cluster of agencies that share some commonality. Here ‘the sector’ refers to community based agencies that serve immigrants and refugees in Ontario. Other relevant sectors include the broader non‐profit sector (sometimes referred to as the voluntary sector), and the community social services sector.

, a tendency for an agency’s mission to ‘drift’, and a loss of infrastructure (p 6). The report also focuses on some of the trends in government concerning reporting, funding, and agency accountability (p 13-14) and also some strategies that agencies can incorporate into their programming, policies, and strategic planning

An activity carried out on a regular basis to clarify an organization’s purpose, goals, priorities, and a plan for reaching those goals and addressing the priorities.

to address these challenges (p 20-22).  

Social Planning Council of Ottawa. (2003). Everything You Wanted to Know About Funding Diversification and Program Evaluation But Were Afraid to Ask. 1-25. Ottawa, Canada.

 

 

Board Handbook for Legal and Fiduciary Responsibilities

This resource, developed by the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) Canada, examines the legal and fiduciaryEach board member has a fiduciary duty to the non-profit organization which it governs. Fiduciary duties commonly include the duties of diligence, loyalty, and obedience. Specifically, this means each board member is required to act reasonably, prudently and in good faith, educate themselves about the organization, make reasonable inquiries into the day-to-day management of the organization, consider explanations and make informed decisions, and seek advice from qualified professionals when necessary. They are also required to place the interests of the organization first, including acting honestly, in good faith and in the best interest of the organization. Board members must disclose conflicts of interests and take action to avoid perceived or real conflicts of interest. They have a duty to act within the scope of the governing documents of the organization (constitution, by-laws, policies, etc) and to ensure that committees and staff do so as well. This includes ensuring these documents are up-to-date. Board members with special skills or knowledge have a duty to use that expertise in their role and to practice the standard of care expected of their professional abilities. They also have a duty to obey all laws and statutes that apply to the organization. The fiduciary duty of the board is the same for all types of governance structures and covers all areas of board responsibility. responsibilities of boards. It uses VON boards as a model though it can be easily adapted to suit other agencies. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of board members and even uses a case study to illustrate the importance of a Board’s legal obligations and the implications of failing to uphold its legal and fiduciary responsibilities.

Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) Canada. (03 October, 2002). Module 7: Board Handbook for Legal and Fiduciary Responsibilities. 1-19.

 

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