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The Meaning of Good Governance

The Meaning of Good Governance 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Good governance. What does it mean anyway?

Governance means:

  • Responsible use of assets and funds.
  • Ensuring the group/organization is fulfilling its mission.
  • Openly communicating with others and listening to others at all levels of the organization.
  • Accurate recordkeeping for the benefit of the organization and those we serve.
  • Maintaining good legal standing through compliance with IRS section 501(c)(3) requirements.
  • Serving as a good role model: In the Vincentian world this also includes embracing servant leadership.

Governance does NOT mean:

  • The leader cannot share responsibilities.
  • Numbers are more important than people.
  • Opinions of others do not matter.
  • Turning the organization/group into something distant from its mission.

Basically, good governance means good leadership. It means taking good care of the Society; it means taking good care of those we serve. It means taking care of each other, encouraging the spiritual growth of all members and friendship among members, and person-to-person service. It means serving with integrity, accountability and in a trustworthy manner. Taking advantage of ongoing learning opportunities and identifying helpful collaborations can help Vincentian leaders govern and lead with great effectiveness and joy.

St. Vincent de Paul once said, “There is great charity – but it is badly organized.” Let us be inspired by St. Vincent’s good governance and leadership and allow the generosity of others to be put to good use.

10-21-2021 Questions and Answers

10-21-2021 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: Could you please share with me what national has for their “Global Ends” policy? 

A:   National Council’s Ends Policy is stated  in Resolution 74, to view click here: https://members.ssvpusa.org/governance/resolutions/. In this case National Office also means National Council. The Ends for the National Council are the Society’s Essential Elements of Spirituality, Fellowship, and Service.

Q:  We added a room to our pantry and our president who is a carpenter by trade with the help of other members was paid to build it. The total price of the project was lower than the cost of a hired contractor. Is this ok under the bylaws of SVdP?

 A:  It is okay for Conferences to pay the president or any other member to do a particular thing for a short term job as long as all members know and are in agreement with the terms. This could become a problem if it is happening consistently, and the Conference must be aware of any conflicts of interest. It can also be a problem if the president or other officers are paid on a consistent basis for doing regular jobs, as they would lose their eligibility to hold office. In this example the president is indeed a paid contractor. As such, good accounting and audit principles include soliciting bids for projects over certain cost estimates set by the board of directors. This transparency is important to demonstrate to the public and supporters that the Society’s leaders are not unduly compensated for any professional work provided to the Society.

Spanish Questions & Answers

P: ¿Podría compartir conmigo qué tiene nacional para su política de “fines globales”? 

R:   La Política de Fines del Consejo Nacional se establece en la Resolución 74; para verla, haga clic aquí: https://members.ssvpusa.org/governance/resolutions/. En este caso, Oficina Nacional también significa Consejo Nacional. Los Fines del Consejo Nacional son los Elementos Esenciales de Espiritualidad, Amistad y Servicio de la Sociedad.

P: Agregamos una habitación a nuestra despensa y nuestro presidente, que es carpintero, con la ayuda de otros miembros, recibió un pago para construirla. El precio total del proyecto fue menor que el costo de un contratista contratado. ¿Está esto bien según los estatutos de SVdP?

R:  Está bien que las Conferencias le paguen al presidente o cualquier otro miembro para que haga algo en particular por un trabajo a corto plazo, siempre que todos los miembros conozcan y estén de acuerdo con los términos. Esto podría convertirse en un problema si ocurre de manera constante, y la Conferencia debe ser consciente de cualquier conflicto de intereses. También puede ser un problema si al presidente u otros funcionarios se les paga de manera constante por realizar trabajos regulares, ya que perderían su elegibilidad para ocupar el cargo. En este ejemplo, el presidente es de hecho un contratista pagado. Como tal, los buenos principios de contabilidad y auditoría incluyen la solicitud de ofertas para proyectos por encima de ciertas estimaciones de costos establecidas por la junta directiva. Esta transparencia es importante para demostrar al público y a los partidarios que los líderes de la Sociedad no son compensados ​​indebidamente por ningún trabajo profesional proporcionado a la Sociedad.

10-14-2021 Questions and Answers

10-14-2021 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: Where does the Council get its support?

A:  According to the Rule, Part III, Statute 24, “The authority to manage the Society’s assets remains exclusively with the Councils …” This statute goes on to say, “Councils may determine annually the percentage of the funds of each Council or Conference within their area that may be made available to them …”

Chapter 2 of the Manual, page 26, subheading ‘Funds of the Conference’ states, “Conference members should never adopt the attitude that the money is theirs …” In addition, under ‘Donation of Conferences’ it reads, “Surplus funds should be shared generously with needier Conferences or the special works of the District.”

Additionally, Councils are free to operate their own stores, raise funds from the public, and to generate their own funds through events and other revenue-generating activities.

Q:  The solidarity contribution assessment for stores is based on their total revenue (normally total sales), and not on their profits (sales minus expenses). Correct?

A:  Yes, on the Stores Report there is a line item titled “Total Revenue” (not “Total All Store Income”) that is used to determine the solidarity assessment for a store. Expenses do not come into play in the solidarity calculation.

Spanish Questions & Answers

P: ¿Dónde obtiene el apoyo el Consejo?

R:  De acuerdo con la Regla, Parte III, Estatuto 24, “La autoridad para administrar los bienes de la Sociedad es exclusiva de los Consejos…” Este estatuto continúa diciendo, “el Consejo…puede determinar anualmente el porcentaje de los fondos que pueden estar disponibles para ellos de cada Consejo o Conferencia dentro de su área.”

El capítulo 2 del Manual, página 26, subtítulo ‘Fondos de la Conferencia’ establece: “Los miembros de las conferencias nunca deben adoptar la actitud de que el dinero les pertenece a ellos …” Además, en “Donación a la Conferencias” se lee: “Los fondos extras deben ser compartidos generosamente con otras Conferencias con más necesidades o en los Trabajos Especiales del consejo o del distrito.”

Además, los Consejos son libres de operar sus propias tiendas, recaudar fondos del público y generar sus propios fondos a través de eventos y otras actividades generadoras de ingresos.

P: La evaluación de la contribución solidaria para las tiendas se basa en sus ingresos totales (normalmente ventas totales) y no en sus ganancias (ventas menos gastos). ¿Correcto?

R:  Sí, en el Informe de Tiendas hay una línea titulada “Ingresos Totales” (no “Ingresos totales de las tiendas”) que se utiliza para determinar la evaluación de solidaridad para una tienda. Los gastos no entran en el cálculo de la solidaridad.

How To Avoid Confusion With Clear Communication

How To Avoid Confusion With Clear Communication 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

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?”

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?

10-07-2021 Questions and Answers

10-07-2021 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q:  What are the consequences if a Conference refuses to make Home Visits?

A:  No consequences are imposed. However, as Council leaders we must continue to encourage and advocate the fact that Home Visits are what makes us unique and unlike other charitable organizations. The Rule, Part III, Statute 8 clearly states: “Visits to those in need should be made in their environment.” We recognize that personal safety, COVID and other local factors may make such visits at times difficult to achieve. There are also some Conferences organized as Special Works Conferences. Leaders are asked to do their best to help members grow in spirituality though the experience of our basic Home Visit, conducted as “close to the customer” as possible.

Q:  Is the Society okay with Conferences using their Archdiocese parishes revolving accounts (PRF) instead of savings accounts?

A:  PRF accounts are acceptable if they are not comingled with parish funds, SVdP has sole access to the funds, and the funds are accessible immediately. These sort of agreements are rare; often the Pastor has funds access. Therefore such accounts must be viewed with great scrutiny and backed up with strong documentation.

Spanish Questions & Answers

P: ¿Cuáles son las consecuencias si una Conferencia se niega a realizar visitas domiciliarias?

R:  No se imponen consecuencias. Sin embargo, como líderes del Consejo, debemos continuar alentando y defendiendo el hecho de que las visitas domiciliarias son lo que nos hace únicos y diferentes a otras organizaciones caritativas. La Regla, Parte III, Estatuto 8 establece claramente: “Las visitas a aquellos en necesidad deben hacerse en su ambiente.” Reconocemos que la seguridad personal, el COVID y otros factores locales pueden hacer que, en ocasiones, estas visitas sean difíciles de lograr. También hay algunas Conferencias organizadas como Conferencias de Trabajos Especiales. Se pide a los líderes que hagan todo lo posible para ayudar a los miembros a crecer en espiritualidad a través de la experiencia de nuestra visita domiciliaria básica, realizada lo más “cerca del cliente” como sea posible.

P: ¿Está la Sociedad de acuerdo con que las Conferencias utilicen las cuentas rotativas parroquiales de la Arquidiócesis (PRF) en lugar de cuentas de ahorro?

R: Las cuentas de PRF son aceptables si no están combinadas con fondos parroquiales, SVdP tiene acceso exclusivo a los fondos y los fondos son accesibles de inmediato. Este tipo de acuerdos son raros; a menudo, el pastor tiene acceso a fondos. Por lo tanto, estas cuentas deben ser examinadas con gran escrutinio y respaldadas con documentación sólida.

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