Governance – Running a Not for Profit Organisation.

Over my many years I have been involved in many incorporated associations – school committees, women’s groups, community groups etc and have had some interesting experience as a result of people thinking they can ignore the constitution (now called standing rules) and do what they like.  Luckily, I joined a group called Forum  Communicators.

I joined Forum after I was asked to do speaking engagements/training in medical products after gaining employment as a representative for a bandaging products company.  I learned (not at the interview, but a few days after starting the work) that I had to give lectures at the Royal Brisbane Hospital to nurses.  I was totally out of my comfort zone, but did one a few days after I started with the company.  Despite the fact that I was given positive feedback I chose to learn public speaking skills and found Forum.

I also learned that they were very much on the ball with meeting procedure.  I learned so much at those meetings which was to stand me in good stead years later.

I think the first time I was embroiled in dramas was with a community group where the treasurer presented her “audited” financial report two years in a row, duly signed by the auditor. It was later that we learned that she had in fact taken the money and gambled it, and that she had faked the “audit” – in fact signing off on it with a false name/identity.  She ended up in prison.  I learned then, that if I was ever to be in a position in an organisation I would insist on seeing the official bank statement and sign it.  That plan has worked well for me, especially later when as president I was responsible for huge sums of money.

Sometime later at our son’s school, my then husband ran the school fete – he did it professionally for a couple of groups.  The fete’s profit was almost nil, and we all knew it should not be so.  There was a lot of argument, but a short time later, at the Annual General Meeting of the committee, we found many parents to support us in overturning the old committee including the treasurer.  I can remember the surprise by the old president that they had never seen so many people at an AGM – not know that it was all planned.  With the new committee came a new treasurer – one who was on staff at the auditor general’s department.  Within a few days, the old treasurer was arrested, and the crimes that he had committed were soon public.  He ended up in prison, and later took his own life.

Quite a few years later I found myself president of a community organisation with huge sums of money granted by various government departments.  One of our members had altered a grant application (I had gone overseas for a month) and he added into the mix a large sum of money for himself, and for an organisation which we worked with but had no right to apply for money FOR them.)  Clearly out of order and there was much drama to right the wrongs of that application.

Last night I attended a meeting where some of the exective of a new group which I am involved in, and some members of another group which has undergone some management issues attended a governance meeting.  I wish they hadn’t called it “governance” as I think that word is a bit of a “put-off” and people didn’t understand the value of the information that would be shared.  There was very little “new” to me, but I appreciated the presentation and participating in the learning process, (especially as I won lots of chocolate for my good answers) and I was disappointed that few other people attended.  I know that there are so many errors being made in not for profit organisations and any group would benefit from the information shared.

I did learn, that so many such organisations ignore the government rules and regulations but not much is done as the particular government department in our state is poorly funded.

Anyway, I found it interesting.  I can only suggest that the executive of any organisation know the rules/constitution of the organisation and the rules of the state.

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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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