Monthly Archives: September 2005

Board Self-Evaluations

During the recent pleas for donations to help the Katrina victims, we have been warned to beware of scam artists trying to attract donations from sincere donors for victim relief. The reporters always recommend that we give our money to an agency that we know and trust. That’s a good rule for all of our giving. Local or national, make sure the agency receiving your money will deliver the service as you believe.

Several weeks ago in this newspaper, there was an Op-Ed piece by Frances Fairey outlining the operation of the Alliance for Human Services. In Henderson County this organization exists to help local funders, namely the Community Foundation, United Way and Henderson County government, by accrediting human service agencies seeking funds. One of the positives of this accreditations of local agencies is to assure donors that these agencies are well-organized and managed within the good financial practices of non-profits.

Several weeks ago in this newspaper, there was an Op-Ed piece by Frances Fairey outlining the operation of the Alliance for Human Services. In Henderson County this organization exists to help local funders, namely the Community Foundation, United Way and Henderson County government, by accrediting human service agencies seeking funds. One of the positives of this accreditations of local agencies is to assure donors that these agencies are well-organized and managed within the good financial practices of non-profits.

The Alliance board has designed is a great instrument to use to conduct an organizational selfevaluation. The first form in the packet is very interesting. It is designed to help agencies determine duplicate services. The form helps a Board do a program review to highlight distinctions of its programs from other programs in the community that may appear as duplication. Local donors are very savvy. They are interested in avoiding redundancy. Yet, they are also interested that all in need receive services. Agencies have to be ready to respond to these concerns – working through the questions will be helpful

Next the packet contains a great checklist of necessary and highly recommended financial policies and procedures. Form C 2005 is designed to help an agency design the appropriate accounting checks and balances to prevent fraud, waste and/or abuse of financial resources. Its a simple checklist, but will have an impact on managing an agency’s financial paper trail. Financial evaluation concerns address policies such as: receipts issued for any cash contribution received; expenses coded accurately to the general ledger in a timely manner. For those of you in a very small organization, some of the questions may be a challenge. In a larger organization, there would be staff to address some of the issues, but in the end, large or small agency, the Board members need to be involved in financial issues and policy development. After all – this is the primary Board responsibility.

The next section of the packet is the “Self-Evaluation Matrix.” The matrix lists accepted standards and practices of good organizations, then asks the agency to rate its performance in these areas. The standards measured in the matrix cover several categories. They are: Mission and Program; Legal; Governance; Financial; Charitable Fund Development; Public Accountability and Ethics; Public Policy and Advocacy; Collaboration and Partnerships; Human Resources and Compensation; and Constituency Development and Services. It looks at agency mission and its relationship with agency organization. It looks at Board organization, offering a great checklist to assess the Board functioning level. There are some categories that speak to client services and community need.

The process for accreditation that has been developed by the Alliance is a great instrument for any agency to use as a preorganization guide or a self evaluation tool. Whether your agency serves anything from the arts to zoos, the Accreditation Packet is something to use to check your organizational health.

The point is, local nonprofits have tools and mandates to make sure they are who they say they are and do what they say they will do. This is not an idea that exists just for Henderson County agencies. All national agencies with local offices, go through a rigorous assessment on a routine basis from the national office. So the local group of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or the local Consumer Credit Counseling office are already meeting standards necessary for a well-run, creditable, established fund raiser and service provider. The Alliance helps local human service agencies move their organization to those standards.

In recent years accountability of an agency has become very important. Donors want the same kind of information regarding a non profit as they want for any type of financial investment. Those concerns and the rise of donor sophistication have made nonprofits work to a higher level of accountability and measurable outcomes. If you sit on a local nonprofit board, or are thinking of seeking nonprofit status to serve a community need, email the Alliance for Human Services at ahschair@hendersoncountync.org. Ask for the Accreditation packet.

September, 2005
Note: The Alliance for Human Services was dissolved in 2010 and no longer advises county funders.

September 2005 Board Self-Evaluation