I wish I could say every charity operates beyond reproach, however there are recent cases where governance volunteers and executive management have failed to be vigilant executing their fiduciary roles and responsibilities. These situations highlight that goodwill is not sufficient and nonprofit leaders need to arm themselves with the knowledge, skills and aptitude when assuming their respective roles.
"...the organization was unable to demonstrate that the first installment of the donation was used in accordance with his foundation’s goals... “We deeply regret that things have come to this point... We awarded the funds in good faith and expected results that were in keeping with the guidelines we agreed upon...”
You may determine particular measurements carry more weight of importance over another due to the nature of your organization's purpose and operating model. Implicit in the list is the need to correlate data sets of one to another or multiple sets, therefore I encourage you to examine them collectively.
Boards who demonstrate healthy team behavior are more likely to have stronger relationships with management, make better decisions, attract and retain board talent and lead more socially impactful organizations. I have outlined below what I think are helpful tips to develop more effective, healthier governance teams.
The Muttart Foundation's 2013 report, "Talking About Charities" speaks to the trust level Canadians have in their charities. While 79% of Canadians report having a lot or some trust in charities, there is a need to understand why 20% say they have little or no trust in charities. In my opinion, it's the erosion of trust, accountability and health of the board team inside the organization that has rippled to the public arena.
Every charity needs a healthy culture of philanthropy and this starts with the leadership behavior of each and every governance volunteer. Board members serve as role models to employees, donors and all other stakeholders and this includes demonstrating support with all facets of the fundraising cycle.
Nonprofit executives and board volunteers today are leading organizations through a time of rapid change and challenge. To succeed in this new era our organizations need to embrace a continuous improvement mindset and seek ways to become better in all areas of our work.
Assessing or evaluating board of director performance in the nonprofit charitable sector is not common practice, however boards would benefit from adopting a process.
Regardless of your organization's size, the Board of Directors can be more effective in setting strategic direction, mitigating risks, guiding executive leadership, mustering resources and providing responsible governance if they have proper leadership. Organizations with a robust, well executed selection and 'on-boarding' process can help elect the right Chair.