BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES:WHAT IS A BOARD TO DO?Lisa Presley,District Executive, Heartland District, MidAmericaRegion
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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