Orientation to Charity Leadership
There a several aspects to becoming a new board member that are important to become familiar with:
- Our Constitution
- Our Governance Model
- Board Policy Manual
- Past Board minutes, resolutions
- Calendar of Events / Upcoming board meetings
- The Board Meeting Package
- We are regulated by the Income Tax Act and The Canada Revenue Agency.
- Our charitable purposes put restrictions on activities related to our charitable purposes in letters patent, constitution, bylaws, etc.
- Politics: we are prohibited from engaging in partisan politics either endorsing or critiquing a position.
- Foreign Activity: We must work through agencies that have proper charitable purposes.
- Business: limited to our charitable objects or substantially 90% run by volunteers.
- Resources are restricted to charitable objects and public benevolence and cannot be directed to private benevolence (a specific person). Funds established are restricted to their purposes.
Three types of boards: working, management, policy.
- Working Boards: perform fiduciary and strategic duties, work with staff to fulfill management and are involved in day to day operations
- Management Board: perform fiduciary and strategic duties, also manage staff. Staff performs day to day operations.
- Policy Board: Perform fiduciary and strategic duties. Assign the Lead Pastor to manage staff and day to day operations.
We are a Policy Board. The Pastor is responsible to manage staff and volunteers who perform day to day activities. This means the board must invest most of its time in governance, accountability, risk management, asset management, organization, strategic planning, policies, etc. The board must focus on the highest level of thinking and delegate the rest, respecting boundaries with staff. The board must work on affirming vision, mission, values. The board must not spend time on the trivial.
Key questions we must be asking: Are we doing what we are called to do? What is the Spirit saying? What should we start and stop? What are the alternatives? Where is there a risk? What does the research show? How do we prepare for the future?
A properly structured meeting must be planned, adhered to, and followed. It is the difference between a functioning and immobilized board. Here are some rules for running effective meetings: one topic at a time, clarity (info, feedback, deliberation, decision making), everyone has a chance to speak, respect, follow the process.
A well-structured meeting is important. Prayer, Presentation of Agendas, Reports, Decision Making, Committees Report.
- Chair: presides over meetings, responsible for leadership. Vice-Chair can exist in the Chair’s absence.
- Secretary: responsible for books, records, minutes, notices, to conduct correspondence.
- Treasurer: Ensures full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements.
Are set by the chair within seven days of a meeting. Members can present agenda items for discussion or motions to be voted on several weeks before a meeting. Members must present the discussion items ahead of time with supporting materials. Motions should be clear, highlighting who is to do what, when, and within what boundaries.
Confidentiality and Solidarity
Decisions can be made public unless they are “in camera”. These include personnel information, salary decisions, legal opinions, real estate. After a vote, all board members must support the groups decision and become one voice.
Where tough decisions exist, it is important for the chair to establish four points of deliberation:
- Dialogue – laying out multiple points of view, move past personal ideas to communicate freely.
- Discussion – Analysis and personal points of view based on the evidence.
- Disagreement – Communicate through areas of difference, exploring other motives, values, goals. Language such as “help me understand…” “what is the alternative option”. It’s important to work through hot buttons and personal preference.
- Discernment – What is God saying in this situation? Honesty and candor are required.
Board Policy Manual
Please read through the manual for this church. The manual may differ from other boards you serve/served on. Here is a highlight.
- The Staff – Do not report to you and are under no obligation to accept your advice. Discuss their performance at a board meeting.
- Members – You must not bad mouth the ministry, the board, or staff. Do not disclose the information you learned from your role. Support the rest of the board “the board decided”.
- Outside the Church – Do not answer on behalf of the church unless you have been authorized by the board to do so.
- Each Other – Stay connected to each other and the Lead Pastor. You are a team and need to get to know each other.
Resignation / Removal
- The pastor and/or board chair oversees discipline and may remove a board member for violating a board policy or if they are disqualified from membership as outlined by the constitution.
- Ensure your resignation is set for a specific date and noted in the minutes.
- Leave well. Let the new board do its own work. Keep copies of the meeting minutes you attended.