Non-profit organisations depend heavily on volunteers to achieve their purposes. Non-profit board directors therefore have a built-in recognition of the need to delegate key aspects of the organisation’s operations to individual volunteers or groups of volunteers.
As very few non-profit entities pay their directors, most of those people think of themselves as volunteers, and so many apply the same expectations to their own role as they do to members or volunteers who are not directors.
This view reflects some degree of role confusion on behalf of directors, as they have distinct legal obligations and governance responsibilities not applicable to other volunteers. This confusion may be exacerbated by the director often being a member of one or more volunteer teams tasked with delivering aspects of the organisation’s activities or services. More about this in a future post.
Matters reserved for the board
Distinguishing between matters that should be reserved for the board and those that can (or perhaps should) be delegated to volunteers and/or staff is essential for effective governance and compliance.
The following chart (including material based on the Governance Institute of Australia’s Good Governance Guide) may assist you when deciding whether or not a matter is suitable for delegation.
Delegate the drafting task
Many non-profits have found it helpful to formalise the list of matters reserved for the board in their Board Charter/Manual or their Delegation Policy.
If your board has not yet done this, consider delegating your Constitution or Policy Committee the job of drafting such a statement – for review and approval by your board of course.