Governance Part II
Once your foundation is established and you have a clear mission statement with a vision statement that guides you, the role of the board as a governing body becomes evident. But what is that role? You have your vision and a specific mission for the foundation, what does the board need to understand about its collective and individual roles? What does the job description include?
Every good organization takes time to plan both for the long term and strategically. Spend time thinking about what you want the foundation to have accomplished at the end of five years. What are the goals and objectives for this year that will lead you to long term success. Planning should be an ongoing process, with formal strategic planning at least once a year. You should have measurable plans. What events are you going to have? Are these to raise money or to raise friends for the foundation? Are you planning for how to thank your donors and those who contribute to the success of the organization? What are the programs you have planned? Do these programs fall within the mission of your foundation? Staying mission driven is the key to good planning!
Every board member should be an enthusiastic advocate for the foundation. They should engage the boarder community in the foundation’s work. Who are the constituents that need to be kept informed? The school community, certainly, along with parents, but are there others on whom you depend for the success of your mission. Do you individually carry your enthusiasm so it can become contagious, insuring that it infects others with your commitment to the work of the foundation and the students that you serve.
Good management of finances is your responsibility! You need to be accountable for the current needs, and plan prudently for future growth and future needs. First—every board member should give! Even a small gift, if that is all you can afford, is important. You are responsible for securing the resources that will make the project a success and that means contributing yourself first and foremost.
In addition to your personal gift, you should know the financial plan, the budget, how funds are managed, how endowments are managed, and the safeguards against fraud or malfeasance. You do not have to be a financial wizard for this role. As someone who makes a gift to the organization, you want to ensure that the funds are secured, kept and managed safely. Do not be afraid to ask what may seem like simple questions if you do not know the answer.
You don’t want to be in the role forever. There should be a balance between stability and constant rejuvenation. One way to ensure this to have board terms that are long enough for stability, but that require everyone to roll off and new blood to come on. While always looking for new members, be sure there is a clear job description for the board. What are the prerequisites for potential new board members? Do you have an orientation plan once you have elected people to the board? Is there a board grid that shows the age, sex, race, professional background, and current committee assignments so you can “fill gaps” that develop when older members move on? Do you have a buddy system, so new members have someone they can comfortably go to with questions about their role and the history that has preceded them. Board development is an ongoing process. You should always be looking to the future so the organization stays vital and connected to the community you serve.
In the future we will discuss some of the legal and ethical issues that every board faces.