But I’m a board member! Avoiding governance confusion in associations and NFP’s

20121021-133406.jpgMany association and NFP boards that I’ve interacted with have a degree of confusion around their governance. In this post, I’d like to address just one of the causes of confusion (we’ll talk about others later) which is the significant blurring that occurs when organisations rely on their board to be governors as well as an expert functional workforce. You can’t afford to be a muppet in today’s governance environment.

This phenomenon is more pronounced in small associations but I’ve seen and heard examples of it in larger organisations as well. It occurs more frequently in associations as the members have skills and knowledge that are invaluable to the association, and we get great outcomes when we work together. The problem is that the board are often the most accessible, willing and engaged members so they will frequently agree to do things on the fly. This includes functional tasks like:
– providing copy for consumer promotions
– writing guidelines and manuals
– chairing conferences and events
– chairing ad hoc working committees (as distinct from oversight committees)

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The umbrella organisation

20121019-211356.jpgToday I’m pondering the question – the umbrella organisation, effective tool or convenient distraction?

There are many different kinds of umbrella organisations. I’m involved in several myself and I’ve often wondered about the effectiveness of them. Therefore, I’m writing a piece about umbrella organisations to start a conversation about the topic.

There is no question in my mind that umbrella organisations can be an effective vehicle for bringing together people or organisations with common interests. They often deliver significant economies of scale and can achieve a significant amount by focussing resources and energy in a specific direction. Continue reading