Nonprofit organizations need an effective and well running board, as well as money, to function at their best. Obviously, a diverse and solid funding base is critical, but an often overlooked area relates to the importance of good governance. And to me that starts with your Board Member Manual! I have talked about other aspects of good governance in past newsletters and today I want to bring it together and offer you a template to help guide you through developing your Board Member Manual. But first, what is a Board Member Manual? My definition is a simple one: ‘It is a repository of necessary and current information that supports your board to function effectively, knowledgeably and legally.’ That simple definition really offers a lot of traction! A Board Member Manual helps bring on new Board members with the information they need to know what is expected of them and get up to speed as quickly as possible. It helps support them with the basic three levels of needed information.(1)
The generic legal requirements of any board member of any Canadian non-profit
Training and education about the specific organization including its governance model or style and expectations for its members
The current situations the board and organization are dealing with (issues, trends, staff, economy, budget, etc.)
And really, a good Board member manual goes much, much further. Boards(2) have legal duties of:
Loyalty to the organizational interests – conflict of interests?
Obedience to the law, obedience to the governing documents of the organization
As well as four primary responsibilities:
Prepare – read and process (not skim); follow through on commitments that you made at the meeting
Show up – physically, mentally and emotionally – be present
Participate – share your relevant insights, boards are body of equals, everyone needs to participate, you don’t need to share on every topic, but you do need to be present and attentive
Vote – may only abstain if there is a conflict of interest, silence means consent
Your Board Member Manual guides and supports the onboarding of all new board members, acts as a reference at Board meetings when needed, and adds a level of professionalism and consistency that will help your Board to be an effective and well running board to support the great work you do! Please feel free to get in touch and I’ll send you a free template you can use and adapt to create your own Board Member Manual.
1) Dr. Rebecca Sutherns – Sage Solutions
2) Modern Board – Capacity Canada
I’d like to introduce Anne Kresta and Level IT Up. Level IT Up is an incredible nonprofit organization in Winnipeg that promotes and supports the mutual benefits of connecting skilled consultants with autism spectrum disorder to Manitoba’s tech sector.
Did you know that a single unemployed person in Manitoba who is between 18 and 65 years old is likely living off $820 +/- per month in employment and income assistance? And this is only if they know they can apply for this supplement and want to do so. Many don’t – especially when they are living at home with their parents or think this monthly stipend should be left for those who are in more desperate circumstances – homeless, and seemingly helpless. This means their families are supporting them and as they age, their concern for the future of their sons and daughters grows and grows…
Did you know that on average only 1 in 6 adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are working? And those who are tend to be underemployed or employed in entry level, sometimes precarious work situations (short-term, limited income levels with few, if any, benefits). When you consider that 1 in 66 people likely live with ASD, that is a lot of people left out of our labour force. This is in spite of the fact many of those with ASD possess advantages that can benefit the workplace in many different sectors.
Think about what jobs might benefit from having staff with the following skills:
Attention to detail
Strong work ethic
Accuracy – work is completed on time and according to specifications
Ability to absorb and retain a lot of information
This is, in part, the driving force behind Level IT Up. This social enterprise is here to make a difference in these numbers. We work with individuals with ASD who are motivated and have skills and training to work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). We help them cultivate and better recognize their inherent skills and abilities while also working with employers to help them grow in their understanding and appreciation for this amazing talent pool. We encourage a more universal design in human resource practices that allows our candidates to better showcase their talents to potential employers.
Recently, due to the pandemic, Level IT Up developed a remote training and assessment process for its candidates with ASD, allowing it to expand its reach outside of Winnipeg. We are excited to see what difference we can make in the lives of more and more Manitobans with ASD and their employers.
Winnipeg, we are on Treaty 1 Territory, the ancestral home of the Anishinaabe and Cree people, as well as the birthplace of the Métis Nation. It is also important for us to acknowledge the water we use in Winnipeg comes from Treaty 3 Territory.
For those of us in Victoria we live and work in the traditional territory of the Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱sáneć Nations.
We do this to acknowledge the people who were here before us, who are still here – and who we share this land with. May we all work towards a strong relationship of trust, respect, and reconciliation.