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Michelle Boyer

Governance — Good Stewardship

Governance — Good Stewardship 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

*Information provided by the National Governance Committee

What does stewardship look like in your life? Then think of this through the prism of a Vincentian lens which should have a spiritual and biblical foundation.

Then ask yourself what stewardship means to you, to members of the Society, and to your respective Councils and Conferences.

Certainly, as good stewards we need to give thanks for all the gifts we’ve received. This means thanks to God, thanks to our bishops and pastors for allowing us to serve within their dioceses and parishes, thanks to our volunteers and employees, and thanks to every person who has helped us by donating goods and money.

Good stewardship involves, among other things, accepting and acting on the following principles:

  1. The principle that everything we have is a gift from God who has given us the ability to serve others
  2. The principle of responsibility
  3. The principle of accountability.

Let’s examine these further:

First, stewardship includes recognition that it is God who created everything and through whose grace and blessing we have been given the ability to serve others and to receive the funds needed to do so effectively. It is God who has given us the graces we need to discern how best to help people.

With this comes the principle of responsibility to use the gifts bestowed on us wisely. This may mean helping other Conferences and upper Councils as well as those who come directly to us. We help those who come to us or who we have sought out and found because they are God’s children. We help other Conferences because we know the people coming to them also need help. We help upper Councils mainly, but not exclusively, through solidarity dues so they can animate and promote our Essential Elements of Spirituality, Friendship, and Service. Responsibility also means not hoarding funds but rather honoring donor intent that those in need be helped in whatever way is prudent and will alleviate material, spiritual and emotional need and anxiety, and that the help be delivered by men and women who are well formed in what it means to be a Vincentian.

The principle of accountability also needs to be considered when discussing stewardship. When we as Vincentians become stewards of resources and money given to us, we have an absolute responsibility to give an accounting to all of our stakeholders – they were discussed in recent articles. This includes filing annual reports which have information that is shared with bishops across the country and helps the National Council fulfill its obligation to account to the greater church.

In short, we all have an obligation to be faithful stewards of all God has bestowed upon us and to see that in the end we are serving the common good and furthering God’s Kingdom.

10-06-2022 Questions and Answers

10-06-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: Can a member of two Conferences have voting rights in both Conferences? Should his/her membership be counted twice on the annual reports?

A: Yes, the Rule says an active member has one vote in a Conference. An active member of two separate Conferences is eligible to vote in each of the Conferences of which they serve as a member.  The member should also be counted on each Conference annual report.

Q:  When does a newly elected Conference President formally take office?

 A:  According to the bylaws for Conferences (approved by the National Council), a President’s term is from October 1 through September 30 three years later. If the newly elected President takes office at any other time, the first year of office is a short one (still ending on September 30) and then the President serves an additional two years. When the President actually takes office is normally determined at the time of the election. The office of President should be vacant for as short a period as possible.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Puede un miembro de dos Conferencias tener derecho a voto en ambas Conferencias? ¿Debe contarse su membresía dos veces en los informes anuales?

R: Sí, la Regla dice que un miembro activo tiene un voto en una Conferencia. Un miembro activo de dos Conferencias separadas es elegible para votar en cada una de las Conferencias de las que sirve como miembro. El miembro también debe ser contado en cada informe anual de la Conferencia.

P: ¿Cuándo asume formalmente el cargo un presidente de Conferencia recién elegido?

 R:  Según los estatutos de las conferencias (aprobados por el Consejo Nacional), el mandato de un presidente es del 1 de octubre al 30 de septiembre, tres años después. Si el nuevo presidente asume el cargo en cualquier otro momento, el primer año en el cargo es corto (todavía termina el 30 de septiembre) y luego el presidente sirve dos años más. La fecha de entrada en funciones del presidente normalmente se determina en el momento de la elección. El cargo de presidente debe estar vacante por el menor tiempo posible.

 

September 29 Questions and Answers

September 29 Questions and Answers 150 150 Michelle Boyer

Q: With thousands of people facing eviction, homelessness is an increasing scenario.  Does the Society of St. Vincent de Paul have an actual definition for homelessness?

A: The Society does not have a single, standard definition of ‘homelessness’. Instead, we have a Position Paper adopted by the National Council that articulates a Vincentian response to the problem in our nation and communities: https://members.ssvpusa.org/download/112/the-vincentian-position-position-papers/1217/homelessness.pdf

Q: Are there rules about the amount of funds that can be carried from one year to the next?

A: It is the intent of the Society (and its donors) that the money be spent to help those in need.  Carrying funds over to the next year is not a problem as long as the intent is to spend the funds and not accumulate them in the bank.

Spanish Translation

P: Con miles de personas que enfrentan el desalojo, la falta de vivienda es un escenario más frecuente. ¿Tiene la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl una definición real de personas sin hogar?

R: La Sociedad no tiene una definición única y estándar de ‘persona sin hogar.’ En cambio, tenemos un Documento de Posición adoptado por el Consejo Nacional que articula una respuesta Vicentina al problema en nuestra nación y comunidades: https://members.ssvpusa.org/download/112/the-vincentian-position-position-papers/1217/homelessness.pdf

P: ¿Existen reglas sobre la cantidad de fondos que se pueden transferir de un año al siguiente?

R: Es la intención de la Sociedad (y sus donantes) que se gaste el dinero para ayudar a los necesitados. Transferir fondos al próximo año no es un problema siempre que la intención sea gastar los fondos y no acumularlos en el banco.

 

Governance — Do People Trust You? Advice for Building Trust and Inspiring Confidence

Governance — Do People Trust You? Advice for Building Trust and Inspiring Confidence 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

By: John R. Stoker

One afternoon as I was passing through the airport on my way home, I ran into a colleague of mine, Stephen M. R. Covey, the author of the book, “The Speed of Trust.”  We stopped and exchanged a few pleasantries. I could tell that he needed to get through security, so I bid him safe travels.

As he was hurrying away, I yelled after him, “I know something faster than the speed of trust.” He yelled back, “What’s that?” I responded, “Distrust.” He laughed as he hurried away and responded, “You’re probably right.”

Think about it for a minute. Some people will trust you from the beginning of your relationship without having any experience with you.  Others won’t trust you no matter what you do; you really have to work to earn their trust. Still others begin their relationship with you in a neutral position. They will wait to see what you say and do before they trust you.

No matter where the trust in any relationship begins, what we know for sure is that it doesn’t take much negative behavior to diminish the trust that people have in you.

Here are a few tips to help you assess your trustworthiness and to increase the confidence people have in you.

Do you walk the talk?

There is probably nothing that erodes trust quicker than saying one thing and then doing another. The first time this happens, people will take a closer look at your behavior. But if it happens repeatedly, people will come to distrust you and not believe anything that you say. You will appear as if you just say what you think people want to hear. This seeming lack of credibility will cause people to question your intentions and can cause lasting damage to your relationships.

What to do? Stop and think about what you are about to say, or what purpose your message needs to convey, and then say what you truly mean. Being deliberate and intentional about your message will increase alignment between your message and your behavior.

Do you keep your commitments?

This is closely associated with the previous question. Sometimes we make commitments and things change. When this happens, it is important to acknowledge your commitment and make necessary adjustments. If you let another commitment take priority over a previous commitment and don’t manage that dynamic, then people will learn to not take you seriously and may not keep their commitments to you.

What to do? Keep a calendar of your commitments and manage them. If something changes, then be sure to communicate those changes and make new arrangements as soon as you can. Don’t blow people off or forget to keep your commitments. Using some kind of planning or calendaring software will help you to keep your commitments while strengthening the trust that others give you.

Is your behavior consistent?

If you have wild mood swings and are unpredictable, your erratic behavior will lead people to distrust you. In one of my first corporate positions, I had a manager who had broad swings in behavior and mood. You never knew if your performance would be celebrated or trashed in front of others. The first person to arrive in the morning would test the waters and then alert everyone at the coffee machine if we could engage with our manager or should make ourselves scarce that day. Consequently, few people felt that they could fully trust him.

What to do? Notice if people approach you and ask for your input or support on their work. If you are not approached by others, perhaps you could find a respected colleague and ask for feedback about how you come across. If someone will be honest with you, listen to what they have to say. Ask for examples and thank them when they finish. If you find that people are unsure about how to approach you, strategize some ways to manage your behavior and mood so it is more predictable and consistent.

Do you misrepresent the truth?

This happens more frequently than people would like to admit. People are often afraid to speak up and tell it like it is, fearing the perceived negative consequences that could occur. This perception will have a negative impact on behavior. When people don’t keep their commitments or meet expectations of performance, then they feel forced to cover their mistakes to justify their behavior. This leads others to avoid interacting with those individuals and to distrust the stories they offer as excuses for their behavior.

What to do? If you find yourself misrepresenting or exaggerating situations, then you are at risk to not be taken seriously and are setting yourself up to be distrusted. Stretching the truth and making excuses can become a habitual response. If this is often your first reaction, recognizing your tendency to do it, determining your motivation behind this response and correcting it will go a long way toward building trust.

Do you withhold information from others?

This is usually a power play of sorts where people make themselves the gatekeeper of what others need to know to do their work. Such behavior leads to frustration on the part of others and also can lead to people not sharing information that you may need. Withholding information also leads people to figure out how to work around you so they have as little interaction as possible.

Sometimes, for legal reasons, you may not be able to tell others what you know. When this is the case and others press you for information, you simply need to tell people that you can’t tell them about a certain situation because of legal ramifications to you and your company.

What to do? Ask people what information they need and, specifically, identify deadlines. Look to offer support and address others’ needs and concerns to increase the success of those that rely on you in some way. When people ask you for information that you can’t share, simply manage the situation and tell them that. They will understand.

Do you gossip about others?

Nothing will erode trust quicker than talking about others behind their back. Unfortunately, people often talk about others rather than to others. When you gossip, your behavior tells your listener that if you would talk about someone else, then you would also talk about them.  Although they may listen to you and engage in the gossip, they won’t trust you. This kind of behavior ruins relationships, destroys company culture and creates emotional drama that everyone would rather avoid.

What to do? Stop it. If you have an issue with someone, talk to the person you need to talk to and avoid the rumor mill that puts people on negative alert but never solves the problem. Otherwise you will just get more of the same – poor results and no trust.

Do you throw others under the bus?

This behavior usually takes place when someone is trying to avoid responsibility or accountability for the results that were created.  Sometimes, when others have not kept their commitments to you, their behavior has a direct negative effect on your results. When this is the case, ask yourself, “Did I manage the situation in such a way that kept them from being successful? Did I do my part to help them to be successful and to achieve the desired results?” Sometimes we become so busy and have so many things to do that we fail to manage a person or a situation in an optimal fashion.

What to do? Be responsible and take accountability for managing others, facilitating activities that will produce the desired results. When things don’t go as planned, examine your part in the process and accept ownership. Doing so will go a long way to creating and strengthening trust.

Do you keep confidences?

Someone once told me that there is no such thing as a secret until the person you told it to is dead. If someone shares something sensitive and important with you in confidence, unless there is a specific and legal reason not to, you should keep those things confidential. If you are going to share something important with another person, you should assume that sometime or somewhere what you share will be shared with someone else.

Are you supportive of others?

Nothing increases trust like being sincerely interested in and supportive of others and their efforts. If you are a leader and you frequently ask people what they need from you and how you can help and support them, they will feel the satisfaction that comes in knowing someone cares about them and their success. That care and concern will translate into increased trust.

What to do? Check in frequently and offer support. This will afford you the opportunity to get to know them, how they are doing and what you can help them with. Making interpersonal connections such as these will improve their work and their performance.

Our interactions with others serve either to build trust within our relationships or call it into question. Recognize that what you do and say is the first step in building and strengthening trust. As you consciously work to increase others’ confidence in you, your interactions will improve and you will achieve greater results. And, you’ll never have to worry about the speed of distrust.

Connect with John R. Stoker on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

09-22-2022 Questions & Answers

09-22-2022 Questions & Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: We recently elected a new President, and now have a new Treasurer.  The previous Treasurer did not think the Treasurer should sign checks.  She would make them out but another member, who is authorized at the bank, would sign it. The new Treasurer thinks that it is ok for him to sign checks as long as someone else approves/authorizes the payment.  Is it appropriate for Conference Treasurer’s to sign checks? 

A: Yes, it is normal practice throughout the country for Conference and Council Treasurers to be signers on all of the accounts.  A good number of all Conferences throughout the country require all checks to be written and signed by the Treasurer.

Q: Our Conference was approached by another organization to discuss collaboration work with their payday loan alternative program. This organization is interested in creating a pooled fund to be used as collateral for payday alternative loans. Vincentian money would go into this fund for neighbors in need. It would not be a donation to the other organization but commingled with the other organizations’ (and potentially others) money. Is this type of arrangement permissible?

A: The funds used for this purpose would have to be collected specifically for this purpose.  They could not use normal Conference funds for this purpose.

Second, the funds could be co-mingled if SVdP maintained control over its funds.  If not, then this is a donation to an outside organization which is prohibited.

Many Councils have invested funds into resources that contain co-mingled funds from many organizations.  However, SVdP maintains full control over its funds in those vehicles.

Spanish Translation

P: Recientemente elegimos un nuevo presidente y ahora tenemos un nuevo tesorero. El tesorero anterior no creía que el tesorero debería firmar cheques. Ella los haría, pero otro miembro, que está autorizado en el banco, lo firmaría. El nuevo tesorero piensa que está bien que él firme cheques siempre y cuando alguien más apruebe/autorice el pago. ¿Es apropiado que los tesoreros de la conferencia firmen cheques? 

R: Sí, es una práctica normal en todo el país que los tesoreros de la Conferencia y el Consejo firmen cheques por todas las cuentas. Muchas de las Conferencias en todo el país requieren que todos los cheques sean escritos y firmados por el Tesorero.

P: Otra organización se acercó a nuestra Conferencia para discutir una colaboración con su programa alternativo de préstamos de día de pago. Esta organización está interesada en crear un fondo común para ser utilizado como garantía para préstamos alternativos de día de pago. El dinero vicentino se destinaría a este fondo para los vecinos con necesidades. No sería una donación a la otra organización, sino que se mezclaría con el dinero de la otra organización (y potencialmente de otros). ¿Está permitido este tipo de arreglo?

R: Los fondos utilizados para este fin tendrían que ser recaudados específicamente para este fin. No podían usar los fondos normales de la Conferencia para este propósito.

En segundo lugar, los fondos podrían mezclarse si SVdP mantuviera el control sobre sus fondos. De lo contrario, se trata de una donación a una organización externa que está prohibida.

Muchos Consejos han invertido fondos en recursos que contienen fondos combinados de muchas organizaciones. Sin embargo, SVdP mantiene control total sobre sus fondos en esos vehículos.

Governance — How To Avoid Confusion With Clear Communication

Governance — How To Avoid Confusion With Clear Communication 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

By: Michael S. Hyatt

Under-communication is a consistent problem in nearly every business. You can solve that by taking ownership of the communication happening around you.

I’ve worked with more than my share of poor communicators over the years. One was a boss who rarely shared information and never in a timely way. My office happened to be in a different building than his, so getting to our weekly one-on-one meeting took a little effort. Each week, I prepared a status report on my major projects, developed a list of answers I needed to make progress, and drove to the office in time for the meeting.

I can’t tell you how many times I was greeted by his assistant with a pained expression. “I’m so sorry,” she’d say. “He had to step out.” Not only did he cancel most of our meetings, but he did so without notice.

When we did meet, he provided little or no clarity. And he dodged most of my questions with “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” It was maddening!

Most under-communication is inadvertent. People are simply unaware of the gap between what’s in their mind and what’s in yours, and you suffer from that same lack of awareness. In fact, a team of researchers writing in the Journal of Political Economy labeled this phenomenon “the curse of knowledge.” It means that when you know something, it’s very hard to remember that other people don’t.

Fortunately, the solution is remarkably simple. All you have to do is step up and take responsibility for all the communication that comes from you or to you. Here’s how:

Determine To Be The Solution
Most of us are not fully aware of our own part in the communication quagmire. We may expect others to do all the work of conveying information. The first step in communicating clearly is to determine to be the solution, not the problem. Are you ready to champion clear communication in your workplace?

Externalize Your Thinking
The curse of knowledge affects everyone, including you. As a result, we don’t communicate or don’t communicate enough. Be aware of the gap between your understanding and that of your team. Stop assuming that people know what’s important or what needs to be done. Get your thoughts out of your head where others can read or hear them.

Push For Clarity
Before you compose your message (or say it out loud), ask yourself, “How can I set the other person up for success?” Before you hit send, reread the communication to be sure it’s clear. Would you know exactly what you meant? Clarity is vital for communication. Sometimes that will mean pushing others for clarity. Remember, they also suffer from the curse of knowledge and may have a tendency to omit information or use ambiguous language. Gently ask them to make their meaning clear.

Confirm Understanding
Communication hasn’t really happened until the other person not only receives your words but also understands them. You can request a “read receipt” when you send a message, but you also need to get an “understand receipt.” You can do that with questions like “Is anything unclear about that?” or “What do you understand based on what I’ve said?”

Over-Communicate
Actually, you can’t over-communicate. Or at least it is pretty hard to do. People are busy and distracted. They forget things they should remember – things they want to remember. Communication is not a one-and-done event. Communicate again. And again.

What would it be like to come to work in a place where you never had to go on a deep dive for the information you need to do your job? How would it change the culture of your office if everyone was clear, direct and intentional in their communication? Why not take responsibility for making that happen and find out?

 

09-15-2022 Question and Answers

09-15-2022 Question and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: We help with shoes and uniform clothing for a very poor school. We were told we shouldn’t help since we are helping a private inner-city school. Many are homeless with no shoes or winter coats. We do not assist with school tuition or any other school funding issues; we are helping the children. Is this acceptable?

A: If you give the shoes and clothing individually, directly to those who need it, it can be recorded as an individual case and it would be valid.  If this is extra clothing that cannot otherwise be used, then it is ok. However, if clothing is purchased specifically for the need given to the children, then it is a donation prohibited according to the Rule, Statute 26. We do not do checkbook charity — we are to be involved in person-to-person works..

Q: Can a Youth serve as secretary of adult Conference?

A: There are no age restrictions as far as the officers are concerned. Obviously, you would want an adult as Treasurer. Everything depends on how comfortable the members are with a youth as Secretary. However, keep in mind that the youth must be an Active Member of the Conference to be eligible to be an officer.

Spanish Translation

P: Ayudamos con zapatos y ropa de uniforme para una escuela muy pobre. Nos dijeron que no deberíamos ayudar ya que estamos ayudando a una escuela privada del centro de la ciudad. Muchos no tienen hogar, no tienen zapatos ni abrigos de invierno. No ayudamos con la matrícula escolar ni con ningún otro problema de financiación escolar; estamos ayudando a los niños. ¿Es esto aceptable?

R: Si entregas los zapatos y la ropa de uniforme directamente a quien lo necesita, se puede registrar como un caso individual y sería válido. Si se trata de ropa adicional que no se puede usar de otra manera, entonces está bien. Sin embargo, si la ropa se compra específicamente para la necesidad de los niños, entonces es una donación prohibida por la Regla, Estatuto 26. No hacemos caridad de solo escribir un cheque – debemos ser involucrados en obras de caridad de persona a persona.

P: ¿Puede un joven servir como secretario de una conferencia de adultos?

R: No hay restricciones de edad en lo que respecta a los oficiales. Obviamente, usted querría a un adulto como Tesorero. Todo depende de cuán cómodos se sientan los miembros con un joven como secretario. Sin embargo, tenga en cuenta que el joven debe ser un Miembro Activo de la Conferencia para ser elegible para ser oficial.

09-08-2022 Questions and Answers

09-08-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: What is national’s official position on having co-presidents within a Conference?

A: The National Council’s official stand is that co-presidents in a Conference are not recommended. Too many problems occur with co-presidencies and it is difficult for Vincentian members and the National Council to know who to go to for issues and/or concerns that may arise. This is why we have vice-presidents. One president per Conference is sufficient.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Cuál es la posición oficial de National sobre tener copresidentes dentro de una Conferencia?

R: La posición oficial del Consejo Nacional es que no se recomiendan copresidentes en una Conferencia. Ocurren demasiados problemas con las copresidencias y es difícil para los miembros Vicentinos y el Consejo Nacional saber a quién acudir para los problemas y/o inquietudes que puedan surgir. Por eso tenemos vicepresidentes. Un presidente por Conferencia es suficiente.

Governance: Owners and Stakeholders — Part Two

Governance: Owners and Stakeholders — Part Two 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Last week we discussed five groups of people who should be considered stakeholders in what we do as Vincentians. Here are five additional groups:

  • Collaborative Nonprofit Organizations
  • Governmental Entities
  • The Community At Large
  • The Local Bishop (in the case of all Catholic organizations)
  • Pastors and Clergy (in the case of any Catholic organization supported by a parish)

Other nonprofit organizations are stakeholders. We all share a com­mon goal to some degree. All nonprofits influence other nonprofit or­ganizations in their community. Especially important are those nonprofits that we partner with. If the Society does something to dam­age its reputation, then those that collaborate with it also may suffer collateral damage.

Every nonprofit needs other nonprofits to accomplish larger projects. With diversity of missions nonprofits can share the overall needs of those served by sharing our strengths with each other. For example, a person may need shelter that is provided by another nonprofit while the same person also needs clothing or food that is available from our Society.

The city, county, state, and federal govern­ments are additional stakeholders. Nonprofits and their volunteers are significant contributors to the support of the responsibilities of all these governmental entities. If federal and state governments did not allow donations to nonprofits to be tax-deductible, much of our work would be impossible to fund. If nonprofit organizations did not exist, it would be left up to the gov­erning bodies to provide necessary services to the public. Government agencies are very interested in what is done, how it is done, and the level of effectiveness and efficiency with which it is accomplished. They are also responsible to ensure that all laws are followed and that services provided do no harm to those who are served.

The entire community is a stakeholder. It has an interest in how those in need are served. The overall community and its image are improved when the disadvantaged are taken care of. The community is then thought of as a better place to live, raise children and experience a better quality of life. Where the care of those in need is provided by nonprof­its, the taxes necessary for broader social services are lessened.

Residents of the community often consider themselves “owners” of our Society. Because the people of the community see our work, some become donors, some volunteer and some know of someone who was served. Most agree with our work and readily identify with what we do even though they may not be directly involved. They may simply know that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is in their community and helping the poor. That knowledge is im­portant to them.

The finances of the nonprofit corporation are also more important to a wider community than the finances of a for-profit. Everyone who contributes in some way, who receives services, or who simply knows about its work consider themselves an owner or stakeholder. There is a perceived level of stewardship by the community. They expect the nonprofit to be run efficiently and that the money donated or granted to it goes toward intended programs. In fact, many people believe that nonprofit organizations should have plain, inexpensive offices and equipment. To them it is an indication that most of the donations are given to the poor and not to the people running the nonprofit. The people of the community will not tolerate what they consider to be excessive salaries.  In their eyes a nonprofit employee is really a dedicated volunteer and does the work because of a love of the mission and not for a well-paid job. For many employees that is a reality.

In our Society we recognize the need to maximize the amount of our donations that goes directly to those in need. But that maximization cannot come at the expense of our employees who deserve adequate wages. The Society’s Voice of the Poor Committee has developed a policy about a just wage for our employees. That policy has been approved by the National Council Members.

In the case of Catholic organizations, the local Bishop is responsible for all activities related to the Church in his Diocese. Because our Society is in the Diocese at the pleasure of the Bishop, he is a stakeholder. He allows us to be in the parishes because of our close relationship to the Church and the work we do for Christ’s poor. Because the way we operate directly reflects on the Diocese in the eyes of the community, and because our Society also contributes to the spiritual growth of its members and evangelizes by its members’ actions, the Bishop has great interest in what we do. He knows that we assist in fulfilling the Church’s preferential option for the poor. This vital relationship requires regular and close attention. Keeping your Bishop informed about the activities and achievements of your Council should be a high priority.

Pastors and Clergy are stakeholders for reasons similar to those of the Bishop. Our presence in the parish helps the pastor and other clergy serve the poor and relieves the parish burden of responding to the needs of people coming to the Church for assistance. Always keep in mind that St. Vincent de Paul serves in the parish with the pastor’s permission.

(The source of this article is Governance: Council and Board, the original version of which was authored by former National Vice President Terry Wilson.)

 

Governance: Owners and Stakeholders — Part One

Governance: Owners and Stakeholders — Part One 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

The source of this article is Governance:  Council and Board, the original version of which was authored by former National Vice President Terry Wilson.

Have you ever considered the audiences you have as a Vincentian and especially as a Vincentian leader? Whether you are a Conference or Council President, a member of a Board of Directors, serve on a Committee, or are an active or associate member of a Conference there are a number of people to whom you are accountable, are your audience, or have a stake in what you do and how you do it. We call these people “stakeholders.”

In for-profit companies the finances are mainly of interest to those who own the corporation or those interested in becoming owners. Nonprofit corporations, however, have many “owners,” also known as stakeholders. This week we’ll discuss five of these groups and in the next issue an additional five.

  • Members
  • Those They Serve
  • Donors
  • Volunteers
  • Employees

Let’s talk about these one at a time:

Members are stakeholders. In the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, most Vincentians consider their work to be a vocation. They believe in the mission and have invested heavily with their time, talent, and resources to help achieve it. More than that, it is often their very way of life.

The needs of those served make them stakeholders. For example, our Society’s mission is carried out by supplying people in need with serv­ices and goods they require to live a decent life. In many cases our help is the difference between the abject poverty of living on the street or the peace of having a place of their own in which to live.

Our Society’s work goes beyond food, shelter, clothes, furniture, etc. When life circumstances such as illness, job loss, or poor decisions fall heavily on a person or family, Vincentians can bring hope, share our spirituality, and provide at least for basic needs.

Donors make our work possible. They want to be sure their dona­tions are used to achieve the greatest amount of benefits for the program to which they contributed. Even though they know it is not possible, they would like every dollar they give to go directly to those in need.

Donors give of their time and money because they believe in what we do and how we do it. They want to find a way to give to the poor or make a difference in someone’s life. Our Society and the way we oper­ate gives them confidence that their support will achieve their desires to help those in need.

Volunteers are closely aligned with any nonprofit, especially ours. They desire to contribute to those in need and to give back to the community for their own good fortune. They see the Society as a well-run organiza­tion that knows how to reach those in need and assist them. It is not uncommon that a volunteer will eventually become a member.

Employees work for any corporation or business to provide for their own needs.  In our Society they become our partners in our mis­sion. More than that, they become believers in our work and who we are. We expect them to present themselves to those we serve and the public in the same way a member does. They are often so involved that you find it hard to separate them from our Vincentian members.

They are true stakeholders because they both support and foster the mission and because they need to earn a living. Some may even be will­ing to continue to work for less than they can earn elsewhere. The Soci­ety has a responsibility to pay a living wage and provide necessary benefits. All members of the Society must ask: How can we live out our mission to help others if our own employees are underpaid?

(The source of this article is Governance:  Council and Board, the original version of which was authored by former National Vice President Terry Wilson.)

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