This is the first in a series of articles from LEAD Brevard on ‘capacity building’ as it relates to the nonprofit community sector.

Recently, at a BoardSource (www.boardsource.org) conference in Orlando, we heard the following that may cause all of us in the “nonprofit” sector to re-think our sector’s brand.  “If you are male, do you refer to yourself as “non-female”?  If you are cold (temperature) do you say that you are “non-hot”?  Then…why do we in the nonprofit sector refer to ourselves as what we are not (non)?

Not-for-profit is a tax status, not a brand….perhaps ‘Community Benefit Organizations’ (CBO’s) is a term more in keeping with our missions – we exist to benefit the community.”  Think about it.

A core concept in capacity building is, of course, leadership development.  The grant-funded activities that LEAD Brevard will focus on during the next two years may include several of the internal capacities on the following list:

  • Creating a Volunteer Management Plan
  • Creating a Volunteer Recruitment Plan
  • Creating Board Policies
  • Creating an Executive Succession Plan
  • Engage an Executive Coach
  • Implementing a Volunteer Management Plan
  • Providing Management/Leadership Training to Staff
  • Providing Training/Written Information for Board of Directors
  • Recruiting Board Members
  • Recruiting Volunteers (Non-Board)

This month’s article will focus on board policies and other key management and governance issues.  There are several websites that have additional information that space does not permit here; www.boardsource.org is a good place to start, from the board of directors’ and staff leadership’s perspective.

While the IRS code does not require charities to have governance and management polices, the most common are policies related to executive compensation, conflicts of interest, investments, fundraising, documenting governance decisions, document retention and destruction and whistleblower claims.  Whew!  Sounds like a lot and it is; however there is an opportunity for capacity enhancement in this list, and the list is not exhaustive by any means.

The IRS is providing a template of minimum expectations of donors and stakeholders with a level of assurance that our CBO sector is aware of and thus implements polices that protect all involved with the organization, including administration, staff, board of directors as well as donors and stakeholders.

What to do?  For a beginning, you may want to review the policies you have against this minimum list and identify those critical policies you may not have in place.  Then begin to create a timeline and process to address gaps that you/your organization may have.

Another example of policies to have in place and documented comes from the Community Foundation of Central Florida, a source which is a bit closer to home.  In their new ‘reviewed status’ program, minimum requirements for management and governance documents include:

  • Organizational Policies and Procedures
  • Management Succession and Training
  • Organizational Strategic Plan
  • Fundraising Plan
  • Board Selection Criteria
  • Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Whistleblower Policy
  • Document Retention/Destruction Policy
  • Nondiscrimination Policy
  • State Solicitations Permit

As you see from a quick comparison of the “lists,” these documents and policies that guide our community benefit organizations are quickly becoming the standard for assuring sound operations and compliance with tax laws, which are keys for the success of our sector in the future.

One of several methods LEAD Brevard may use to reach out to as many of our CBO’s as possible, given the parameters of the grant, is to secure and distribute information about each of these requirements.  By using the talents of those in the legal and financial community to share the most current and accurate information available we can continually update the CBO community.  LEAD Brevard’s community connections position us to identify ‘subject matter experts’ in these areas and bring accurate and useful information about what may be a confusing array of policies and procedures, especially for those grassroots CBO’s – the targeted population for the grant work.

This information sharing may be through training, workshops and/or websites and links to the information you may need to ensure that the work of your mission – why you were organized as a 501(c)3 in the first place – is still at the core of your business, while at the same time, you take care of meeting the standards that your donors want to see.