Many years ago, I joined a local non-profit organization because I wanted to build community. I had just moved back to Kelowna after university and travelling adventures. I had grown up in the Okanagan and wanted to be near family and work with siblings in their restaurant. I loved the arts and so thought volunteering with an organization would be a great way to fulfill a need to make a difference. I remember my feeling of excitement joining the Board, knowing that I was joining a group of people that were passionate about the same things as I was.
Sitting at the Board Meeting table, I was super interested and attentive when it came to talking about the organization’s programmes and creative mission. However, when it came to the Treasurer’s Report, my eyes would glaze over and I would wonder why the poor person who had signed up for this role would drone on and on about numbers and balance sheets.
Clearly, I was not a very good Director. I didn’t even know what fiduciary responsibilities were or that they were the critical commitments I had as a director. I didn’t understand that I could be personally held responsible for any losses the society incurred. My ignorance could have had serious consequences in so many ways – both for the organization and for me. Honestly, I had a lucky escape. When the organization did run into financial difficulty, we were able to navigate that difficult time and to raise the funds to meet the shortfall, without dipping into our personal bank accounts.
Thirty plus years later, I have sat at many more Board tables, both as a director and as a staff person. I wish I could tell you that that first experience was my only close call, but sadly that isn’t true. And I know for a fact, that I am far from the only person to join a Board, who didn’t understand what their role and responsibilities were. I have seen far too many people since, who are well-intentioned and community-spirited, but ignorant of the unique role they are filling, to be truly effective.
That’s why I now love facilitating KCR’s Board Boot Camp, an in-depth look at how functioning Boards work, what directors must know, and what the relationship is between board and staff. We talk about Working and Governance Boards (and all the hybrid versions in-between) and the pros and cons of each and ensures that volunteers who sign up for this important role, are fit, trained and ready to use their voices to make the best impact.
If you currently sit on a Board, or are considering joining one, do yourself (and the organization) a favour by signing up for Board Boot Camp (BBC). We have two sessions coming up. On Tuesday, January 23, it’s BBC 101, the introduction to Boards and how societies work. The following week on January 30, we dive a little deeper, looking at the Board Executive and how it needs to function, and the relationship between Board and Executive Director or staff team. Both sessions run from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at KCR Community Resources (620 Leon Ave) and the cost is only $25 per workshop – a sound investment when you consider what is at stake! Plus, it’s actually very interesting (even if I do say so myself) and good learning for both board volunteers and staff people.
Are you read to learn more? Want to see if I can tell you what fiduciary responsibility means or what a Consent Agenda is? Maybe you want to hear my rant on recruiting active and engaged board members? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up at www.kcr.ca.And if you are interested in even more learning and getting insider tips as a non-profit professional or volunteer, checkout our other upcoming workshop offerings, including Fund Development Overview, Grant Writing Essentials, Overview of Volunteer Management and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, check online at https://kcr.ca/community-services/workshops-training/