Running an arts organization is no easy feat and there are likely many days/weeks/months when you have a seemingly endless number of items on your to-do list, from planning productions and marketing materials to hiring/training staff, preparing budgets, grant applications, and on it goes. In such cases, it can feel so overwhelming that things like governance tend to take a backseat. Our next workshop is here to help.
On Tuesday, March 21, we’re bringing in Donna Ball (who offers consulting services in non-profit governance and has led several local arts organizations through significant growth periods) for a special online session where she will not only discuss the importance of good governance, but provide 10 free tools and templates that participating organizations can use to oversee their work. (At the end of the session, those organizations can also sign up for one-on-one consultations with Donna to get help with tailoring the templates to their needs.)
We caught up with Donna to talk about some of these tools, and why placing your focus on governance is worth your time. (Sign up for Donna’s workshop to learn more!)
Business & Arts NL: From your own experience, what separates good governance from governance that is, well, not so effective?
Donna Ball: Organizations that have strong governance are known to promote transparency and accountability and generally function fairly efficiently, which is what we all want for our non-profits. Weaker governance can impede these principles.
Business & Arts NL: What’s something that organizations can start doing today to help improve their own governance models?
DB: Governance can often take a back burner to the vision and mission and mandate of an organization. We get wrapped up in the important work of program delivery and see governance as something unrelated or less important or even cumbersome. It can be hard to find time to focus on it and before long there’s confusion, there’s noncompliance, there’s conflict and even inefficiencies.
Set aside at least one board meeting each year, where governance is on the agenda. Perhaps that’s the first meeting of the year or the last or even better, schedule a special meeting which is wholly focused on a review of governance practices. Or even better yet, build a discussion of governance into every board meeting.
Business & Arts NL: In this session, you’ll be providing workshop participants with 10 free resources. Can you give us an example of a couple of these tools and templates, and how they can aid participating arts non-profits in overseeing their organizations and/or accomplishing their goals?
DB: One of the first templates that I’ll review is that of bylaws. I’m surprised sometimes that even long-standing organizations do not have bylaws or do not know where their bylaws are or haven’t looked at them in many years. Bylaws provide some guidance on how the organization will operate overall. Following them can really strengthen decision-making.
I’ll follow that with a template for a conflict-of-interest policy. This might be the most critically important policy for a non-profit organization and tends to get avoided because it’s perceived as being a reflection of our character, which is not the case. It’s more about a situation(s) that arise or may arise than it is about someone’s character.
I’ll also look at board orientation checklists, which can make for a smooth onboarding of new directors. And so much more!
Workshop: Build a Better Board: Tools and Templates
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 21 from 10am –11:30am (NT)
Location: Online via Zoom
Registration: Click here