Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where Are We Going - Part 2? - Governing Document Review standard

Along with the previous standard, Monitoring Mission and Strategy, the Governing Document Review standard deals with the unfortunately all-too-common occurrence of nonprofit leadership not really knowing the key documents that ought to help guide the nonprofit organization. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but it’s happened where we’ve reviewed a nonprofit whose board members are in the midst of a 5 year term when the bylaws call for re-election every year.

Now, a lot of times these are honest mistakes with no ill intentions. But it serves up a sobering point, if the leadership of a nonprofit isn’t at least somewhat familiar with the organizational bylaws, it may be time to pause for a moment, dust them off, and take a look. The point of this standard is not about forcing board members to read page for page the nonprofit bylaws every three years, as it is about taking time to revisit the relevance of the governing documents and make adjustments as needed. The assumption in this standard is that if a board takes time to make sure that not only the governance practices are being followed, but makes sense for the nonprofit, then this will lead to a more engaged board and effective organization.

We’d be interested in hearing from others on this. Does your organization regularly revisit its governing documents? If so, how often? Is this standard just making more busy work for board members or does it add value?

Next post: Whistelblower & Document Retention Policy standards

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