Geez, what’s wrong?
When underground voices emerge, when words start to add up and themes become clear, and when there is a heightened concern – we are far behind to notice.
Those voices have been around for years: there are nonprofit board members and trustees who aren’t doing their best.
We talk about governance, all the important legal rules that are put in place to ensure public trust in what we do, and in complying with regulations for reporting to government and Charity Services. They kept pressuring us, burdening us with anxiety, when we were about to take care of our mission matters.
Well – many of us start out as a three or four person committee with a great idea. We are not registered as a charity, we are not an incorporated society. We just want to move with our big idea.
Which develop into bigger things, which take up more of our time, which require proper funding and maybe a paid manager. So we made it official, being one of 27,000+ organizations registered as a charity. And along with everything that’s going on with it. Not our cup of tea at all, but you have to do it.
And then we find:
- We didn’t really understand our role in strategic development, and what we needed to do to drive the mission of the organization.
- We really needed a chairman who knew how to run meetings efficiently, and a secretary who was good at taking notes, and a treasurer who knew basic spreadsheets and accounting.
- And recruiting people from the business sector is not always in our favor.
- Some board members seem to be there just to add something noble to their CV.
- They don’t really understand what volunteering is and why it is important to our organization. Nobody supports volunteering – forgetting that Board members and Trustees are also volunteers.
- Boards need to move to the next generation of organizational development, instead of being ruled by people who can’t move with the times.
Enough. More than enough!
It’s not hard to find a solution. There is a wealth of information available to introduce board members and supervisors to best practice models.
The starting place is Community Net and its range of easy-to-read and accessible topics, from basic governance capacity building to running meetings and developing policies and procedures. And don’t neglect Qualities of an effective charity to illustrate what makes your organization work well.
But maybe what you want is to examine your organization’s current performance, strengths and weaknesses against accepted benchmarks. That’s where the NZ Navigator Trust can set you straight.
Want to know more about volunteering best practices? Go to InvolveMe’s New Zealand Volunteer self-assessment tool. It will get you thinking, and acting.
Or if it’s a legal matter you need to look into, your local Community Law office should be able to help.
All of this looks like extra work and responsibility, and you may need outside help. The experts are out there – consultants with experience to guide you on your journey. Yes, at a cost, but the price has to be worth it in the end, for the organization and for the delivery of the service and what it’s for.
Not-for-profit organizations may not have shareholders scrambling for cash dividends, but they do have constituents and a responsibility to their communities to deliver the goods promised in their mission. Let’s make sure we can live up to their expectations.
And if this info isn’t enough, try this report: https://www.centreforsocialimpact.org.nz/media/1507/what-is-the-future-for-ngo-governance.pdf