A Mount Pleasant panel discusses the job of directors in not for profit organizations
WKRP – TV in Mount Pleasant hosts live panel discussions on topics of current interest. The moderator is Frederico Fashan. He originates from Guatemala, has a degree in journalism from Carleton University coupled with many years of experience in broadcasting and print media. Management of not for profit organizations was this month’s topics. Recent disclosures about alleged fraud in the Salvation Army provided the idea.
Panel members included Rebecca Waldowski, editor of The Mount Pleasant Observer, the Executive Officer of the Mount Pleasant United Way, Kevin Doyle, fresh from a similar position in St John’s Newfoundland, Joyce Featherwell, Director, the Mount, Pleasant Community Foundation and Amal Ladic, Executive Director, Mount Pleasant Immigrant Society.
Frederico started the conversation, asking Joyce her views on the role of NFP directors. She quickly pointed the way to governance, a big favorite these days. Her definition is to ensure the organization’s integrity. Kevin agreed, expanding his view to providing oversight on issues such as finance, strategic planning, management and board succession and public relations. The nodding of heads indicated general agreement. However Rebecca voiced concern, wondering that this description seemed a bit sanitized. She asked “what ingredients are necessary to avoid even the suggestion of illegality, impropriety and conflicts of interest?”
Amal Ladik spoke up. Boards are properly constituted when a wide variety of skills, experience and backgrounds are represented. Often board members have well established relationships already. To avoid “the old boy’s network” a top priority is to foster trust and mutual respect such that everyone is free to express his or her points of view without jeopardizing other relationships.
Federico asked about financing.
Rebecca was very quick to observe the absolute necessity of a strong financial position. In addition, she distinguished between managing the financial function and fund generation. Often the director’s role in fund raising is murky to say the least. Job descriptions vary from nothing to the extreme of give, get or get out. At the very least a commitment by each director consistent with ability is a reasonable expectation. Requiring one hundred percent board participation sends a strong message.
Joyce joined the conversation adding that some directors are generous benefactors, some are connectors and some have a community stature that allows for a wide reach to potential supporters. One challenge is to avoid awarding these directors with greater acclaim than the others.
Discussions of additional roles and responsibilities including establishing the mission, strategic planning, human relations, executive director performance, board recruitment and advocacy were all part of subsequent conversation.
All panel members agree that the consequences of a scandal are devastating.