Board responsibilities jan 12


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What does it mean to be a board member? What are your responsibilities? How should you approach the work? This workshop will help folks understand the difference between their fiduciary, strategic and generative responsibilities, and how to be a better board member.

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  • Welcome –Lisa Presley – DE of HL; lifelong UUHere to present/talk about Board ResponsibilitiesSponsored by MidAmerica Region
  • Most on call because at one point or other you said yes to larger serviceBut might not have known what you were really getting in for!Said yes because care about churchMight not have known about the legal requirements/necessitiesWhat is also clear is that power and authority granted through different placesdocuments, laws, tradition; Culture of congregation will make the job different in each congregationHow you balance authority with power, responsibility with collaborationTrue whether traditional or policy based board
  • These are overarching-Will go into fiduciary more in the next slidesPolicy is really what it’s about; boards should not be doing work of othersNeed to have the tough conversations about trust, authority, and how you will be with the congregationFocus should be on what board is in position to do that no others can: the longer term view, the bigger questions about purpose, reason, etc.Too often get trapped in doing committee work, or other work that can be delegatedRather need to get up on the balcony and look not only inside to see what is happening, but also outside to see changing trends in nation, community, etc., so that you can be prepared for what’s comingBiggest responsibility is that for the whole: not its parts, but the whole. Even if elected as rep from or to certain area, also asked and required to put the whole above the individual
  • So delving deeply – in the lingo of governance writers: one of best is Chait in Governance as Leadership – best book to refer to for this materialDuty of careDuty of planningDuty of forward thinking
  • Protect from waste, theft, misuse, and help do effective and efficient useStay on track – how many of you know what your letters of incorporation, etc., say about why you exist; you need to be able to know this and say itProtect from harm – including property and people; do you have the safety stuff in place, policies for protection of assets and people
  • Do have legal, but the covenants that hold our congregations together also hold the work of the boardAlso leaders in general: your way of being colors how the congregation will beHow you model connection, communicationHow you deal with trust issuesHow you deal with conflictHow you pledge, attend, etc.Whether you reach out to new peopleHow you incorporate the childrenIn large way—cannot step out of role; always board memberLose a bit of your own independenceIn change management field, have two types of challenges – “technical” solutions for which there are known answers; and “adaptive” ones where the answers aren’t clear and there is no one right way—all exploring the situation and looking for the answers, but nothing for sureFiduciary is the technical part – the answers are easy, and something that can be learned and trained
  • Are we spreading ourselves too far? Are there surpluses that we can use, and are we building them up? Are we doing rolling averages for income from fundraising and/or investment income?Do you have safety policies in place—for protection of children, youth and vulnerable adults; do you have a plan for security from natural and human disasters?Are you fully insured?Should have directors and officers insurance; part of the standard church package, but need to make sure it’s thereShould have written policies that provide for this, that are reviewed regularly (annually) and are communicated and expected from members and staff
  • Where are you in the world around, and who do you want to be?Strategic is about the plans for the future, and how you get there—making that road map, and not just being complacentNeed to know the changing trends in the community and in faith in the countryShould be able to have, share, communicate a vision for the futureThis is moving to the adaptive—looking outside the congregation and the present, and trying to figure out how to keep the congregation viable going forward
  • Mission is different from the overarching principles in your incorporation documents: what are you called to do? What can your congregation do to make the world a better place?Moving the congregation forward includes how are you training new leaders, bringing them in, moving forward,
  • Where you take it up a notch; most congregations do the fiduciary well, and some do the strategic well; the generative is harder to wrap your arms aroundIt’s leadership, not managementAsking even bigger questions: beyond the current call, but what else could be? Daring to open it up to everything beyondWhere really need that overall vision, and not representatives of particular causes/segments of congregationNo clear answerNeed to make sure communicate well with congregation and beyond—not just what they want, but what is possible, what exists around you
  • First question: if you’re doing the same thing, what will beSecond question: what do you hope—not necessarily the current trajectory—but hope will be differentThird question: what do now that will be considered bold
  • Mind opening questionsAsks to include what is not there, who is not there
  • Risks:Most organizations are, by their very nature, conservative—as in conserving what they are, what they do, how they run; very few of us are really comfortable with change, and urge it on others; job of the board is to keep eyes on the prize, and help people go beyond their current stateStory of JL Adams: during the early days of the civil rights movement, when at First Chicago, and long night discussion about connection/integration, work toward race relations: finally person stated the reason of the church is to get hold of persons like him, and change them.Run the business part so well, and so like a business, forget you’re a congregation – not all business practices belong in church; need to balance with the moral and ethical issuesNeed to look beyond the policies – not just about the building; detroit congregation is one that is choosing congregation over building- Going along with people who are squeaky wheels, who have long standing, but who might not represent the whole of the congregation
  • Good to remember that you have to figure out some of this yourselvesNeeds to be adapted for your time and place, and will need to revise over timeMuch of current stuff is based on 50s and 60s style organization, and that’s not what the nation looks like nowUnified structure – governance: how does all of this fit togetherUnified structure – program/operational decisionsSpace that allows for creativity – permission givingNeed to ensure understand and appreciate the way you wish to use authority and accountability – some designs help you, but need to be careful get something that suits you, and not just the most recent buzz wordsOverarching goal, in my view, clear from our history and tradition; transformation of people and the world
  • Other things, mostly technical:Job and job description – includes what’s required, estimated time, etc., so people know what they are signing up forBest to do this as part of overall leadership development – bringing people along from what they know to be better and better leadersOrientation of new member – to the life of the church, and to board – cover more deeply on the next slideRegular evaluation of how the board is doing, and how the board members are doing; - more information a few slides later
  • This orientation can be used for every position in the church, and even new membersWhat are the expectations, and how will they be held accountable?What documents are there – policies, bylaws, etc.What can’t you do, and how do you involve others in those decisionsConfidentiality conversation: when board gets into some parts of their job, there are issues of confidentiality, most particularly around personnel decisions, but other things, too. So what does confidentiality mean? Does it mean you can tell your spouse or friends or other family members? How do you communicate things to the congregation, and what if you don’t agree with a board’s decision? The “speak with one voice” concept is important – or how do you communicate the difficult things?Then there’s the congregation – what are the secrets? What are the liabilities that might be out there? What is the mission? Final thing is a tour of the premises. Where is the first aid, the fire extinguishers, fire alarm, the phones? Where you do you have posted the address, etc.?
  • Evaluation is something that often makes us all a bit scaredToo often used as a weapon, and in times of crisis or conflictNeed to figure out how to do this in ways that helps growth, and reduces the fearConcentrate on catching people doing things rightOverarching – never evaluate one component without looking at how it fits in the system, and how the system fits in the context of your neighborhood, etc.Is it right for nowOn board performance, helpful to create goals first, and then evaluate laterVariety of ways to do this – part should include self evaluation and plans for what would changeKey questions on the slides:Also about how are you part of the life of the church – both as individuals and the board as a bodyHow do you communicate with the congregation? Town hall meetings? Etc.
  • What policies:Need discernment about who you are, where you’re goingStrategy of how you’re going to get thereManagement: ensuring that things run right, including shared articulation about authority and responsibility – should always be matched with one another; impossible if have responsibility without authority to make it happen – doesn’t mean unilateral and without regard to the whole, but there must be the ability to move forward the programs and projects called to doOversight: safeguard
  • Board responsibilities jan 12

    1. 1. BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES:WHAT IS A BOARD TO DO?Lisa Presley,District Executive, Heartland District, MidAmericaRegion
    2. 2. BROUGHT TO YOU BYMIDAMERICA REGIONCentral MidWest, Heartland and Prairie StarDistricts
    3. 3. WHAT IS A BOARD? Body of people committed to the well-being of the congregation Legal entity responsible for the congregation  First among equals Granted powers of decision making by:  State/Commonwealth by law  Congregation through bylaws  Tradition and history
    4. 4. JOBS OF BOARD Fiduciary  Duty of care, loyalty to mission, and obedience to foundational documents Govern by Policy  Create the policies that will guide all four aspects of congregational life  Create policies that will articulate the ―separation of duties‖ and delegate responsibility and authority appropriately Spend time on ―open questions‖  Who are we, where are we going, what is next
    5. 5. WHAT IS IT RESPONSIBLE FOR? Three separate (but related) obligations:  Fiduciary – duty of care  Strategic – duty of planning  Generative – duty of forward thinking Governance as Leadership
    6. 6. FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITIES Duty of loyalty and care for the congregation through:  Financial oversight to protect against waste, theft or misuse and ensure resources used effectively and efficiently  Mission oversight to make sure that congregation does not unintentionally drift or intentionally shift from its main mission/goals  Oversight to protect from foreseeable harm
    7. 7. FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITIES Not only legal imperatives but also moral and practical imperatives Set the tone and tenor of how the congregation is, should be and could be ―Trustee‖ holds assets for the benefit of another—Board members hold the congregation as a trust for future generations and for its mission ―Technical‖ work, not adaptive—finding the best way to do what we know needs to be done, and has been done before by others
    8. 8. FIDUCIARY QUESTIONSDo our systems and procedures protect: The congregation from financial loss or downturn? The people from physical, psychological or spiritual harm? Our children and other vulnerable adults from abuse? Our buildings/campus from loss and destruction? Us from being sued for things over which we should have control?
    9. 9. STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITIES Shiftfrom internal review and oversight to looking at possibilities ―out there‖ How to get from Point A to Point B Big picture of congregation’s future: look to internal strengths and weaknesses and align with external opportunities and threats Look for where going, and what could be doing Focusing on the next 3-5 years Moving from ―technical‖ to ―adaptive‖ challenges, where there are no real concrete answers, but ambiguity and learning both exist
    10. 10. STRATEGIC QUESTIONS Who should we be 3-5 years from now? What is our mission, and how do we achieve it? What is our trajectory for the next 3-5 years? What strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats exist outside of us? How can we build for the future? What is the Board’s role in moving the congregation forward?
    11. 11. GENERATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES Fiduciary & Strategic could be called management Generative is ―leadership‖ What could we be, what else is possible? Thinking outside of the box Looking to meaning and enhancing the congregation’s value Longer term vision—min. 5-10 years, and looking at the changing frame of society and religion Pure ―adaptive‖ work—it exists in ambiguity and possibility and there’s no clear answer to any of the questions; a wide open field
    12. 12. GENERATIVE QUESTIONS What will be most strikingly different about our congregation five years from now? What do we hope will be most strikingly different about our congregation five years from now? Five years from now, what will be considered this current Board’s most important legacy?
    13. 13. GENERATIVE QUESTIONS What is possible for us? Who sees the situation differently? What are we missing? What is the biggest gap between what we claim and what we do? What headline would we most like to see about us? What least like to see?
    14. 14. RISKS IN CONGREGATIONALGOVERNANCE Some ways congregations get trapped: Trying to secure support by ―pandering‖ to people’s fears and prejudices  Need to ask people to step beyond their fears Succeeding so well at organization that it loses its religious mission  Forget the true purpose of the congregation: to transform people and the world Livingfor the policy development, building, rather than mission
    15. 15. WHAT MAKES GOVERNANCEWORK? No one right way for carrying out You are looking for:  Unified structure for making governance decisions  Mission, Vision, Evaluation  Unified structure for making operational decisions  Program, Staff, Volunteer Accountability  Creative, open atmosphere for ministry and governance  Transformation of people, the world
    16. 16. WHAT MAKES GOVERNANCEWORK? Clarityabout job and job description Recruitment part of ongoing leadership development program Orientation of new members  To the life of church, including physical plant  To the Board and its operations (including history, policy, covenant, expectations) Regular evaluation of Board’s performance, including Board Member’s self-evaluation
    17. 17. ORIENTATION Orientation to the position  What are the expectations?  What are the existing documents?  What scope or limitations?  Confidentiality conversation Orientation to the congregation  History, including relevant secrets  Mission  Tour of premises
    18. 18. EVALUATION Evaluation of:  Programs, practices, policies: are they the right ones for us now?  Board performance: Are we doing our jobs, or someone else’s? Are we following our covenant of how we are working?  Board members: How am I contributing? Am I showing up? Doing my part? Remaining open to the whole? Holding on to the past?
    19. 19. BECAUSE YOU ASK: WHAT KINDS OFGOVERNANCE POLICIES?There are four kinds of policy that Boards need: Discernment: all about mission, and how that’s determined Strategy: all about what things at what time; what are the major projects and when will they happen Management: ensuring that things run, and they run right, by delegating power and authority appropriately Oversight: ensuring that the resources of the congregation are properly safeguarded, managed, handled
    20. 20. RESOURCES Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards, Richard P. Chait, William P. Ryan and Barbara E. Taylor; Wiley Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, Dan Hotchkiss; Alban Institute Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What, Peter L. Steinke, Alban Institute Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald A. Heifetz, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press