Do you understand your resource development roles and responsibilities?

Yesterday’s post was titled “Can you pass the board roles and responsibilities test?” and questioned how non-profit organizations can and should strive to keep board members focused on their appropriate roles. Included in yesterday’s post were a few fun test questions designed to help you to realize that answers to these questions aren’t always obvious, which is why thoughtful strategies must be developed and used to maintain clarity.

Before we move on to a new set of questions regarding board volunteers and their roles/responsibilities around resource development, we still have some unfinished business to transact from yesterday’s blog post. The following are answers to yesterday’s poll questions along with brief explanations :

  • Question #1: “The executive search committee hires the executive director?” While 44% of respondents said this was a true statement, the reality is that only the board of directors as a whole can hire the executive director. Yes, the search committee does much of the work and makes the recommendation to the board. However, technically speaking it is just a recommendation that doesn’t turn into an actual hire until the entire board votes to make it so.
  • Question #2: “It is a primary responsibility of the board to develop and monitor adherence to personnel policies?” Respondents were split evenly on this question with 50% saying it is a true statement and the other half saying it is false.  This was a trick question and depending on how you read it, you are probably right. In reality, developing and monitoring adherence to personnel policies is a primary responsibility of BOTH board and staff.  Remember, the board also has an employee to manage (e.g. executive director) and as such they are “monitoring adherence” as much as the executive director is doing so with the remainder of the agency’s staff. As for policy development, it is true that staff play a major role, but in the final analysis setting policy can only be done by the board (albeit with staff input and assistance).
  • Question #3: “It is a primary responsibility of the board to review the organization’s policies, procedures, and bylaws?” While 88% of respondents said this was a true statement, the reality is that like the last question this is a primary responsibility of BOTH board and staff who work together to get this done. In the end, policy making is clearly a board role, but staff play a supportive role in the review process including making recommendations and weighing in with their professional opinion.

Let’s put aside whether or not you agree with these textbook answers. The bigger point I am trying to make is that questions around board-staff roles and responsibilities can get fuzzy for trained non-profit professionals (see results above). So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that board volunteers need their staff to help them maintain clarity and alignment.

Well, that was a lot of fun! Want to try it again? Please take a stab and answering some of the following questions around non-profit board-staff roles and responsibilities specifically focused on fundraising and resource development (don’t worry, no one can see how you individually answer):

I will share the answers with you tomorrow, which means there will be two blog posts tomorrow with one focused on our traditional “organizational development” Friday topic and a second containing answers and explanations to today’s resource development poll questions. WOW . . .that is a “two-fer” on a Friday! What more can you ask for?  😉

How do you keep your non-profit board from becoming “unaligned” when it comes to clarity around board-staff roles & responsibilities in the area of fundraising? Do you use certain tools (e.g. an annual board re-commitment pledge, etc)? Can you share those ideas and tools with your fellow readers? Are there particular strategies that you use (e.g. resource development planning process, etc)?

Please scroll down to the comment section and share your thoughts, tools, and approaches with your fellow non-profit professionals. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on November 1, 2012, in Board development, leadership, nonprofit, resource development, volunteers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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