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They are volunteers, too!
Look here for information and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

~ September 2004 ~ Topics

Doing the Right Things

On my hiatus (otherwise known as "vacation"), I read a good deal about the U. S. Senate Finance Committee's review of the federal rules regarding nonprofits, and even had a couple anxious e-mails from students who wonder what impact the items being debated would have on their programs.

First we need to remember that no legislation has been passed as of the middle of August when I am writing this. Additional oversight items are just being discussed. Many of the items discussed are targeted in particular to charitable foundations, credit-counseling groups and charities with assets of over $250,000.

However, smaller charities are worried, rightly so, that they will be included and that the increased oversight will require voluminous paper shuffling and reports, consuming already limited staff time.

Much, however, that is being mentioned by the Committee is already "best practice" of well-managed charities, and should be emulated by all whether the government requires it or not. For example:

  • CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Well-managed nonprofits require all board members to fill out conflict of interest forms; to declare any conflicts that arise during their board service; and to refrain from voting on those issues.
  • LIMITATIONS ON PAY FOR STAFF AND BOARD MEMBERS WHO PROVIDE SERVICES: Well-managed non profits make sure they are not paying staff excessive salaries that are out of line with other charities with similar budgets. I believe nonprofit board members should never be paid for anything they do beyond reasonable expenses. They should be volunteers who represent the community.
  • MAKING FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Good nonprofits include their audited financial statements in their annual report and strive for transparency.
  • YEARLY REPORTS ON THE OUTCOMES OF THE CHARITY’S WORK: Well managed nonprofits do a yearly plan that includes measurable outcomes, and they report these outcomes to their boards, communities and funders each year.

Nonprofits have certain tax benefits because they are organized to serve the public interest. They need to remember this and be prepared to justify their existence.

Other good sources for information on nonprofits, boards and committees:

Jeanne Bradner can be reached at Jeannebrad@aol.com.

See our online bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: The Board Member’s Guide: A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today, and Passionate Volunteerism.
Board Member's Guide ImageLeading Volunteers Book Image Passionate Volunteerism Book link to bookstore

Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today and Passionate Volunteerism. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

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