People often ask us, ”what are my responsibilities for agreeing to be a board member of a not for profit organisation?” We spoke to Chana Fraenkel from our Melbourne Not for Profit Legal team about what this actually involves.
Just an AGM?
Today, when I was asked by a client what her professional responsibilities were as a board member of a not for profit organisation, the client told me that they were asked to simply agree to become a board member and that they would not be required to do anything except attend one AGM per year.
I have heard that before from many clients, and while I understand that charities don’t want to over impose on board members, this is far from correct.
While a board member might not be involved in routine dealings or maintaining the accounts, they are responsible in the eye of the law.
As a board member, the buck stops with you. Board members have the ultimate responsibility for running the organisation, managing its property, finances and the employment of its staff and even its volunteers.
But charities need you!
That is not to say that you shouldn’t consider being a board member. Not for profit organisations all require board members and they cannot do their valuable and necessary work without it.
If you have been asked to take a position as a responsible person on a board this may be an excellent opportunity for you to contribute to our community. Being a board member might be unpaid, but it can also be immensely rewarding.
Not for profit organisations play such an important role in our communities and indeed well beyond our shores.
Whether it is the relief of poverty, advancing education or religion or strengthening our democracy, charities enrich our lives in so many ways.
You can be a direct part of that!
So what are your responsibilities?
Governance standards require charities to take reasonable steps to comply with various duties.
The duties can be summarised as follows:
- to act with reasonable care and diligence;
- to act honestly and fairly in the best interests of the charity and for its charitable purposes;
- not to misuse their position or information they gain as a responsible person;
- to disclose conflicts of interest;
- to ensure that the financial affairs of the charity are managed responsibly; and
- not to allow the charity to operate while it is insolvent.
There are a lot of great resources on the internet where you can find out more information about your obligations, by making yourself aware of these obligations you will be better placed to maximise your impact in your role as a board member.
Here are some great free resources for further information:
Or find out more by contacting out not for profit team.