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Mission Matters Insights

Responsibility #4: Accessibility of Resources

June 20, 2013

Making sure that an organization’s goals do not exceed its capacity yet progress on mission objectives.

As noted in the first few posts of this series, the Board’s primary job is to see that the organization addresses its mission. Achieving the mission usually requires expending resources. It is a Board responsibility to see that the organization has adequate resources available to implement its programs and address its mission.

This does not mean that Board members are personally responsible for making large cash contributions. Some organizations do impose a financial support requirement on their individual Board members and some temper this requirement with a “give or get” requirement that allows the Board member’s financial commitment to be satisfied by obtaining an equivalent donation from another source. I believe that such requirements are inappropriate but that is not the subject of this blog.

Assuring that the organization has adequate resources is a two-part concept. First is assuring that the organization has the resources to implement its programs and plans in the short-term. Second is assuring that the organization has adequate resources to address its mission in general. Thus, I view this Board responsibility primarily as a matching requirement. It is the Board’s responsibility to make sure that the organization’s goals are not in excess of its capacity and second that the organization works to increase its capacity to the level needed to make meaningful progress on its mission objectives.

Obtaining cash resources is necessary in every organization. Although the Board member is not personally responsible for supplying those cash resources, they must realize that they occupy a unique place and must accept responsibility for leading the fundraising task. Leading the fundraising task begins with financially supporting the organization according to one’s individual means. When you are a Board member, your knowledge of the organization is greater than any other community member and, before you ask for the community’s financial support, the organization should be in your donation budget.

Board members are the liaison between the community and the organization it serves. As a Board member it is your responsibility to influence resource providers. Board members must cultivate interest in the organization among potential resource providers and make a strong case for their financial support. In addition, after the donation, it is very important for Board members to maintain a relationship with these resource providers so that they understand the value of their support and will continue it as well as helping to attract additional support.

In addition to financial resources, organizations will expend human resources and physical resources and the Board’s responsibility for ensuring adequate resources extends to these areas as well. The Board discharges its responsibility by asking good questions and demanding sound answers from management. Thus, the Board should work to ensure that the appropriate personnel are hired and retained and that physical resources are safeguarded and used effectively.

This work is not easy. Boards that ensure that organizations have adequate resources and use them effectively are much more valuable to the organization than a Board that merely represents a large check from each member.

Read more on not-for-profit boards:
Board Development Series

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