Why Governance Matters
New York City's 20,000 or so nonprofits have a huge impact on people, the economy, and the very fabric of the City. It is vital that we all pay attention to how these organizations are governed. Why? They spend over $31 billion to provide housing, education, health and human services, arts and culture to the men, women and children who live here.
Over 145,000 of our fellow citizens take responsibility for leading these organizations and the 1.5 million volunteers and half a million paid staff which make them run. The community members who lead these nonprofits by serving on their boards do so without pay or personal benefit to make sure that each organization is fulfilling its mission and acting in the best interest of the public.
The commonly accepted responsibilities of effective board members are to:
- Ensure that the organization's mission is clear, appropriate and relevant as times change.
- Determine that the organization's programs and activities support the organization's mission and achieve both their short-term goals and long-term purpose.
- Exercise fiduciary responsibility to obtain and appropriately use the resources required to carry out the organization's mission and sustain it.
To fulfill these responsibilities, trustees work together to:
- Cultivate a deep understanding of what the organization is doing through involvement in its activities.
- Act as ambassadors for the organization, explaining its purpose and needs to the community.
- Select, establish conditions of employment for, work with and evaluate the Executive Director.
- Make sure that the organization fulfills its ethical, legal and regulatory obligations.
- Attend board meetings fully prepared to discuss, ask questions and make decisions related to the organization's purpose, goals, and activities.
- Support and monitor the organization's fundraising and use of funds.
- Evaluate the composition and performance of the board and recruit future board leadership.
Governance matters and it's a great opportunity.
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