In light of recent philanthropic scandals and the unsavory individuals responsible for them, there is increasing pressure to ensure charities are more transparent with respect to how they make use of donations. There is a push for trustees to become more involved with the organization. Now, while I certainly agree that trustees should be more involved with the nonprofit organizations they support, I also believe that they should toe a line between involvement and micromanagement. Although not always easy to distinguish between the two, the distinction must be made nonetheless. Below, I have included some tips on how not-for-profits can incorporate trustees in their day-to-day operations without losing efficiency:
Assign a Delegate for the Board
By assigning a delegate the board can trust, nonprofits are opening their doors entirely. The delegate can take part in the day-to-day operations of the organization and report back to the board with crucial or relevant information as it surfaces. This way, the board will be able to understand what is going on without sacrificing efficiency in the slightest. Just as well, the operational staff can benefit from this delegate relationship as well. By interacting with the board delegate, they can better gauge how certain ideas will be received upstairs.
Discuss Issues as a Sub-Committee
A sub-committee is the perfect opportunity to allow trustees to get involved and contribute to the not-for-profit organization of his or her choice. By constructing a small group that trustees oversee, you are providing said trustees with the ability to properly educate themselves in addition to giving them the chance to voice their opinion in a meaningful fashion. This way, the board will not be encumbered by the meticulous (not always necessary) details of a particular issue, since the sub-committee will be able to present the information in a streamlined and efficient manner that benefits everyone.
Schedule Board Briefings
By enabling a member of staff to run briefing sessions for the board in regards to vital events and situations, you are ensuring charity trustees are receiving more information than they were previously. Just as well, the board will be able to express its own insight through this briefing, thus effectively improving internal communication.
While there are certainly many ways for charity trustees to get involved, the above suggestions represent some of the most effective, least drastic measures for increasing transparency.