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governance

Paid Staff

Paid Staff 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

HIRING A CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director is hired by and reports directly to the Council/Board. Where there is a Board of Directors, the hiring of the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director should be confirmed by the Council. The Council President serves as the communication link between the Council/Board and the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director. It is important to remember that, although the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director reports to the Council/Board, he/she does not have multiple supervisors. The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director receives direction from one person, the Council President.

SUPERVISION

The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director is the only employee who directly reports to the Council/Board. All direction and correction of the other employees is accomplished through the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director. If the results are not satisfactory to the Council/Board, correction is made at the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director level. There should be no direction by a well-meaning Council/Board member to a member of the staff. Because they are on the Council/Board does not give them the authority to manage staff. All direction to staff comes from the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director or his/her designated representative.

In the case that a Council has paid staff but does not have a Chief Executive Officer/ Executive Director, then supervision of paid staff falls to the Council President who effectively becomes the President/CEO. This places a heavy responsibility on a person who is a volunteer.

PERSONNEL MANUAL

Once a Council has any paid staff, it is important to create and maintain an up-to-date Personnel Manual. All employment practices such as hiring, managing, grievance procedures, terminations, etc. are clearly written in a Personnel Manual. Job descriptions and pay scales by position should also be included. The Personnel manual must meet all national, state, and local laws. It should have a process defined for all phases of employee relations.

TERMINATION

So often in nonprofits, termination of an employee for any reason results in a demand for money. It is believed that nonprofits fear bad publicity and will pay if there is a threat to go public. Learn how to terminate properly.

Have regular, documented performance reviews. Terminate only for failure to perform to job standards after required opportunities to improve performance, or for violation of corporate policy or law. Always terminate in accordance with the personnel manual.

WAGES/WORKING CONDITIONS

The Council strives to meet its moral obligation of a fair wage and good working conditions. With the cost of employee’s wages, workers compensation, health insurance, etc., it is very difficult to offer as much as we would like. There is a movement throughout the country to evaluate and increase wages where necessary. Minimum wage is under scrutiny. This affects all SVdP operations where paid staff exists.

Survival of the Council is the bottom line. If a Special Work’s costs or employee costs in general won’t result in money to be used for the support of our missions, then fix it now or stop doing it. A number of Councils have gotten into financial trouble because they did not take action on this appropriately or in a timely manner. Thrift Stores and Special Works are effectively business operations and should be treated as such by leadership.

Servant Leadership Responsibilities

Servant Leadership Responsibilities 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

*Excerpt from Vincentian Life: Council

OFFICERS

Servant Leadership

Officers are servant leaders and should strive to put the good of the Society, Councils, Conferences, Vincentians, poor and benefactors above their own. True servant leadership is a sacrifice given to God for the blessing of being able to help in service to his poor. What greater role model than Jesus. “And he that will be first among you shall be our servant. Even as the son of man has not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as redemption for many.” (Matthew 20: 27-28)

Training

Officers should seek out knowledge of responsibilities from training resources and guidance from the Society.  The National Council has developed many resources for helping officers to understand their roles better.  These resources can be found on the National Council members’ website under various Organization & Membership categories:  Governance, Leadership Resources, Servant Leadership, and many more.

Training programs such as the Ozanam Orientation, Servant Leadership Workshop, and the Governance for Councils and Boards DVD have also been developed.

Experience/Limitations
  1. Officers need to recognize their limitations of knowledge and experience. Unless they have similar leadership and business background, it is difficult to step into the position that is controlled by complex issues in all areas. Our leaders are chosen because they are wonderful spiritual Vincentians willing to take on the responsibility of being a Council President.
  2. Some of them have not had knowledge, training or experience to operate the complex business side of our Society.
  3. They do the best they can.
  4. One new Council President said, “I don’t know anything about a budget for a business. I haven’t even made a written budget for my own family.”
  5. He recognized his weakness and asked for help.

The real problems are: we don’t know that we don’t know and we ask for help too late. Help is available. The National Council has sponsored a mentoring program for Council Presidents and Chief Executive Officer/Executive Directors. Contact the National Council office or check the National Council website for information about this.

Seek Expert Advice

With the recognition of limitations, experts in the required fields of knowledge should be sought. Some of the areas are budgeting, taxes, EEOC, hiring, labor laws, accounting, insurance, legal matters of all kinds, personnel policies, pay scales and many others. There are willing helpers in every community. Make the effort to seek them out.

No Surprises (Transparency)

Good Vincentian leaders try very hard to build consensus before acting on significant issues. A cardinal rule of all business and even in life is, NO SURPRISES. Tell the facts as early as possible to those involved before the crisis decision time arrives.

Involve Everyone

No Lone Rangers allowed. An election should not turn over the management of the entire Council to the new President. The President doesn’t know everything and the President doesn’t do everything. The President must keep all of the members involved. This is NOT a personal ministry. Over the years, many Conferences and Councils have failed, many have folded, and many members have been lost because of the effects of a Lone Ranger.

No Absentee Presidents

If you accept the position of responsibility, you owe it to the Council and the Society to be actively involved locally and at required meetings in the Region and at the National level. If you don’t want the entire responsibility don’t just accept a couple of areas that you like. The President is expected to be present and involved throughout his/her term. This also means NO Snowbirds.

Succession Planning

One of our primary responsibilities of leaders of a Council is to leave the Council in as good or better condition when our term is up as it was when we became the leader. There is much more work to be done long after we are gone. We must do our share to be sure our Council is there to do it. This also includes the President making every effort to nurture future leaders in the Council. There is no automatic succession in the Society, so this means that the concepts of leadership should be regularly promoted.

Special Conditions

In the chapter on Conferences, mention was made of two special concerns: President’s term of office and inappropriate appointment of officers. Both of these conditions come into play at the Council level as well. The Council is not only to monitor this at the Conference level but within itself as well.

Conference Collaborations: Enhancing Our Network Of Charity

Conference Collaborations: Enhancing Our Network Of Charity 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

In August of 1833, Leon Le Prevost, a member of the first Conference who later went on to establish the Religious Order of St. Vincent de Paul, wrote: In this moment there is a great movement of charity and of faith…” The same could be said of our time and our place in this world. Although we are often distracted by negative forces, influences, and movements, we must never lose sight of the hearts of our non-Vincentian brothers and sisters who like us long to help others. We witness that concern and compassion flow out of the actions of individuals, families, corporations, faith-based groups, and civic organizations as they respond to natural disasters and other large-scale tragedies.

From the very early days of the Society, our founders understood the need to work collaboratively with the government and other organizations in order to better assist the poor and suffering. In December of 1833, the first Conference accepted the role of “Commissioners of Charity” for the administrators of the La Bienfaisance neighborhood. While our present-day Councils often enter into collaborative agreements and relationships, our local Conferences tend to function primarily in cooperation with other Conferences and Councils, seldom reaching out to other groups in their local area.

If Conferences are isolated and do not interact and cooperate with other local faith-based groups and charitable organizations, we are overlooking resources including potential volunteers who can assist us in providing assistance to our neighbors in need.  By joining forces we not only increase our ability to help others but we also engage the community and provide others with the opportunity to be actively involved in helping those in need. Additionally, our outreach efforts help spread knowledge about the Society and our mission of charity and love.

On the Conference level, most collaborative relationships do not require a formal contract but more of a mutual understanding based on agreement in protocols and policies. Identifying groups in your area should be the starting point followed by outreach and relationship-building. Such relationships should start by sharing with the group’s leaders or members our history and mission, as well as letting them know how we currently serve those in need in our community.

The process must include a two-way conversation that provides us with an understanding of who they are and how they currently serve the community. Once that relationship is built, we can begin a conversation on how we can work together to benefit the needy, always keeping in mind that we can only function within the Rule of the Society. Just as we honor who they are and their procedures and guidelines, they must honor ours. For example, potential collaborative partners need to understand early on we cannot share funds with them or any project that our members are not involved in through person-to person contact with the poor.

When Frederic Ozanam helped to establish the Society, he envisioned a network of charity that would encompass the world. Vincentians are only part of that network. Our vocation calls us to reach out and serve beside other people of goodwill to help relieve poverty and injustice. By reaching out to them we can enhance the work of our Conferences and provide opportunities for them to join us in service to the least among us.

Such collaboration can make a huge difference. Ask yourself, “How can our Conference build relationships with other groups and churches?” With the help of others, we can do more and experience the love of Christ in those whom we serve and in those whom we serve beside.

More On Council Structure

More On Council Structure 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

COMMITTEE STRUCTURE

Committee structure should mirror the National Council committee structure. Additional committees can be formed. The committees below are critical to Council success. Every Council should have a:

  • Governance Committee
  • Voice of the Poor Committee
  • Formation/Spirituality Committee
  • Growth and Revitalization Committee
  • Finance Committee

The above are not the only possibilities. Committees are advisory and a resource to help the Council/Board and/or management that doesn’t have time or expertise to research operational ideas.

When there is a difference of opinion between staff and Vincentians, the Vincentian’s access to a decision is to the Council/Board through a Council Liaison and the staff’s access to the Council/Board is through the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director. The Council/Board makes all final decisions in case of conflict.
It is preferable that the Committee Chair is not a Board member. This increases Vincentian participation. It is recommended that no Vincentian should be a member of multiple committees. If a group of Vincentians are all on a number of committees together it creates a “Board” behind the Board as they can control the committee’s recommendations to the Board.

TAX EXEMPTION

Each Diocesan Council should have its own 501(c)(3) Tax ID number (EIN) and file a 990 Tax Return form annually as required. The National Council recommends that this tax-exemption should cover all subsidiary District Councils and Conferences (however, there are a number of possible corporate structures where this would not work well). Where there is no Diocesan Council, the District Council(s) should do this. The owner of the Tax ID number must file an annual 990 which includes the data from all of the subsidiaries that use that Tax ID.

The Society requires that all funds be separate from the Church and priests and deacons cannot be signers on Vincentian accounts. Because of this, Councils and Conferences are NOT to use the Diocese’s (or Parish’s) Tax ID number. Using their number would require turning over control of funds and operations to the Diocese/Parish.

DOING BUSINESS AS …

It is important for the Council/Board to understand the considerations that come into play when a Council allows its constituent Councils and Conferences to use its Tax ID (EIN). This creates a legal relationship between the Council and its constituents. It establishes what is known as a “doing business as” relationship. For example, the Council is doing business as “xxx Conference.” This relationship results in at least the following conditions:

  • The Council becomes fully responsible for the finances and operations of its
    subsidiary.
  • If anything improper is done by the subsidiary, the Council, as the legal entity, accepts the responsibility and will suffer any of the consequences that come into play.
  • The subsidiary must provide to the Council a complete accounting of its finances and activity. This ensures the Council can submit a proper annual report to the Society aswell as an accurate 990 to IRS.
  • The advantage to the subsidiary is that it does not have to submit its own 990 to IRS.
  • The subsidiary cannot start any special programs or apply for grants without the approval/consent of the Council.
  • The Council must ensure that all current and new leadership at Council and subsidiary levels must be informed of this relationship.
  • The Council should also provide liability insurance coverage to its subsidiaries.
  • The annual audit of the Council should include its subsidiaries.

We are not able to provide a complete treatise on this legal relationship. There may be more issues to be considered.

COUNCIL BYLAWS

Every Council and Conference is expected to have a set of bylaws. Bylaws should be up to date, meet state law and be within the guideline Rule of the Society. When the new Rule was established in 2003-05, the structure of the Society that was in the old Rule was removed and placed in bylaws. Therefore, the nationally approved structure of the Society is defined in 10 documents published by the National Council. Those documents are model bylaws representing various approved structures for Councils and Conferences.

*As an addendum to the above information drawn from Vincentian Life: Council, the 10 model bylaws are:

  • Document 1.      BYLAWS for Conferences without a Board of Directors
  • Document 2.      BYLAWS for Conferences with a Separate Board of Directors
  • Document 3.      BYLAWS for District Councils with a Separate Board of Directors
  • Document 4.      BYLAWS for Archdiocesan/Diocesan Councils with a Separate Board of Directors
  • Document 5.      BYLAWS for the National Council
  • Document 6.      BYLAWS for District Councils with an Integrated Board of Directors
  • Document 7.      BYLAWS for Archdiocesan/Diocesan Councils with an Integrated Board of Directors
  • Document 8.      BYLAWS for District Councils without a Board of Directors
  • Document 9.      BYLAWS for Archdiocesan/Diocesan Councils without a Board of Directors
  • Document 10.    BYLAWS for Conferences with an Integrated Board of Directors

The members of the National Governance Committee wish you and your families a beautiful and blessed Christmas and a new year filled with the fullest measure of happiness and good health.

(Our weekly articles in Frederic’s E-Gazette will resume in January.)

Focusing on Council Structure

Focusing on Council Structure 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

COUNCIL/BOARD STRUCTURES

Council and Board structure should be as recommended in Society Bylaws. Generally speaking, the following structures are typical within the Society. This allows for a wide variety of possibilities.

  • Diocesan Councils that have control over the corporate structure within the Diocese
  • District Councils within a Diocesan Council structure where the Diocesan Council has strong control
  • Diocesan Councils that have only little control over the Society within the Diocese
  • District Councils within a Diocesan Council structure where the Diocesan Council has little control
  • District Councils with no Diocesan Council that have control over the corporate structure of the Conferences within its area of coverage
  • District Councils with no Diocesan Council that have only little control over the Society with its area of coverage
  • Councils within the above structures have no formal Board of Directors
  • Councils within the above structures have an integrated Board of Directors
  • Councils within the above structures have a separate Board of Directors
  • Councils within the above structures have no special works of any kind
  • Councils within the above structures have stores and/or special works that they coordinate
  • Some Councils have good working relationships with their Bishop and some do not
  • Many Councils within the various above structures also have Chief Executive Officer/Executive Directors and other staff, both paid and unpaid.

COUNCIL/BOARD MEMBER TRAINING

Council and Board members need training on their responsibilities and personal liabilities on an annual basis. It is recommended that Council leadership check with an attorney in their state to be sure their Council meets state legal requirements. Better yet, they should seek a local attorney to address the Council leadership/Board on its legal responsibilities. Council/ Board leadership changes annually, so this type of training should be scheduled annually. It is good to have regular reminders of fiduciary responsibilities.

Insurance issues should be included as an annual review and training as well. Many who are in Council/Board leadership are not familiar with these issues; however, they are important and need to be understood by leadership.

COUNCIL/BOARD – CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RELATIONSHIP

When a Council has an Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director (or Chief Executive Officer) or other paid staff, the Council/Board sets the policy and the paid professional employees carry out the day to day work. The Council/Board decides what is to be done, the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director decides how and by whom it is to be done. The Council does not make management decisions. The Council/Board makes policy decisions that define results expected and parameters that cannot be violated. They then match the performance of the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director to the results the Council/ Board expected. For more information related to Council/Board – staff relationships, read “Governance: Council and Board” published by the National Council.

The Council/Board has final responsibility for hiring and oversight of a professional manager usually known as Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director. No one person, President, Executive Committee or small group should manage the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director; although the Council President normally is the spokesperson on behalf of the Council/Board.

  • Only one person (typically the President) acts as a communication conduit to the Council.
  • The spokesperson should not give any significant policy directives to the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director. That should be done by the Council/Board.
  • The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director should be selected for her/his ability to manage the business of the Society with our Vincentian missions and principles in mind.

DISTRICT COUNCIL SIZE

When the number of Conferences in a District Council exceeds 10 or 12 a new District Council should be formed. The recommendation in The Rule is that no District Council should have more than twelve Conferences.

  • A District Council requires three Conferences before it can be instituted. The international standard is five Conferences; but the Council General International approved the U.S. to have three as the minimum.
  • When Councils become too big, the Conferences lose their voice and stop participating.
  • Once you pass the magic point in time to establish another District Council it becomes increasingly more difficult because of problems of splitting assets, special works and leadership.

As indicated in #3, problems of splitting assets, special works and leadership may be difficult as the Council grows past the recommended maximum. This holds true in a number of areas in the country where the number of Conferences in the District Council are in the 20s, 30s, and more. This is something that should be looked at early in the Council growth process.

Assisting and Guiding Conferences

Assisting and Guiding Conferences 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

HELP IN COUNCIL EFFORTS

Conferences should be involved in a regular and frequent basis in the operation of the Council. This can be accomplished by involving them as Council Members, as volunteers, as committee members, on special projects, on fund raising, in special works, in general membership meetings, and in every other way that may be appropriate.

FORMATION/TRAINING

The Council should provide formation and training to all members of the Council especially new Vincentians. The National Formation and Spirituality Committee has developed formation/training programs that are available across the country. The National website (www.svdpusa.org) has many documents, power points, etc. available that should be used to form and train Vincentians.

By a resolution of the National Council, all new members of the Society have to attend an Ozanam Orientation within their first year as a member. Also, any member, who is elected to or appointed to be an officer at any level in the Society, must have attended an Ozanam Orientation or must attend one within the first year as an officer. It is highly recommended that all members of the Society attend the Ozanam Orientation at least once. Attending the Ozanam Orientation every three to four years as a refresher is recommended for all members.

This places a burden on the Council. The Council must provide the Ozanam Orientation formation program within the Council area as often as is necessary to fulfill the requirements for training prescribed by the National Council. If the District Council lacks the resources to provide the Ozanam Orientation on an as needed basis, it should seek assistance from the next higher Council to provide this training.

CONFERENCE/COUNCIL VISITATION

Conference visitation by a District Council (District Council visitation by a Diocesan Council) is an extremely important responsibility of the Council. The Officers and Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director should each attend one Conference (Council in case of Diocesan Council) meeting each month to facilitate communications and solidarity with them. That means that five meetings a month could be attended if the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director each participate. In many District Councils, this would mean that each Conference is visited at least twice a year. For Diocesan Councils, coverage depends on the frequency of District meetings. A staff person should come along on some of the visits to explain what that department or special work does and how they can assist the Conference/Council.

YOUTH INVOLVEMENT

A planned program for youth involvement is very important. Many aids are available for recruitment, involvement and understanding how we can utilize one of our greatest assets. There are so many aids now available, such as brochures, outlines of how to start a youth conference, power point recruitment, and many more. There are Regional Youth chairs you can contact that are eager to offer ideas and assistance. With no intent to overuse an old cliché, “youth are our future.”

DIVERSITY

The United States is a melting pot of race, creed, language, and culture. It is important that our Conferences reflect the diversity of our local community within its membership. Councils should emphasize awareness of community demographics and assist Conferences to build their membership based on who comprises their community. Councils should also strive to develop diverse leadership both within the Conferences and Councils themselves.

A Time for Thanks

A Time for Thanks 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

At this special time of the year when our thoughts turn to giving thanks, it is appropriate to reflect on the many reasons Vincentians have to be grateful.

Perhaps the two most important are the ongoing guidance of Divine Providence, which has been wondrously at work on behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul during the past 188 years, and the constant inspiration of the Holy Spirit evidenced so beautifully by the way Vincentians respond every day to the challenges we face in serving Christ’s beloved poor.

We are privileged to participate in the perpetual miracle of our Society:  Ordinary people doing extraordinary things which restore hope to those who have none and change their lives for the better. Our countless benefactors, whose generosity makes it possible for us to help so many people in so many ways, deserve our gratitude as well.

On the most personal level, going to the essence of Vincentian spirituality, we should be thankful to those we serve for the blessings they bestow on us which transform our own lives.

Very importantly, we have each other, truly something to cherish.  Loving and supporting one another while helping the poor is an integral part of our mission.

Vincentians have been graced by God to be members of one family throughout the world living Blessed Frederic’s divinely inspired vision of a global network of charity and social justice.  We should thank God for our Vincentian vocation, a blessing of eternal value

And, ultimately, how blessed we are with the gift of faith, and in that faith Christ’s greatest gift – the Eucharist.  How fitting it is that “eucharist” means “gratitude.”

Resolve to Focus on Good Governance

Resolve to Focus on Good Governance 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

The arrival of a new fiscal year is a good time to remind ourselves that loving and supporting one another while serving the poor is an integral part of our Vincentian mission.

Our Conference meetings are where we help each other fulfill that mission of growing spiritually, developing friendships and having face-to-face encounters with those in need. Meeting at least twice monthly as we should provides the opportunity to continually strengthen those supportive relationships.

Our Councils have a Board of Directors to guide our efforts and oversee our performance. We challenge you to realize that even the best Councils and Conferences can be better and more effective. Our Council Boards and our Conferences should always seek to foster and facilitate improvement. Given the importance of good governance, perhaps this should be your primary resolution for this new year.

Why not start using your Council Board as a support group to review and update your policies and procedures and clean up your record-keeping? Encourage your Conferences to do likewise.

Review your Bylaws. This is a document that spells out your mission, how you operate procedurally and the need for compliance with IRS requirements for nonprofit organizations. They are not meant to be inflexible when circumstances signal a need for revision. Assess your programs to see if they remain relevant and are operating efficiently with the right priority. Take a good look at how your Special Works impact all Vincentians in all of your Conferences. Look at your succession planning. It is of vital significance at all levels of our Society.  If your operating procedures, which are a key part of good governance, need changing, take advantage of the Governance Training DVD and program provided for you by our National Council.

Throughout the year we will address some of these important matters further in the E-Gazette. We urge you to read that information and resolve to enhance your effectiveness. In so doing you will be heeding the exhortation of Blessed Frederic Ozanam to always seek to be better in our service to Christ’s beloved poor.

Councils and Their Conferences

Councils and Their Conferences 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

This document is about Councils; yet, the starting point of this document is Conferences. Why is that? As you will see below, Councils don’t exist without Conferences and the Council’s primary role is to support the Conferences.

CONFERENCE PARTICIPATION IN THE COUNCIL

This is an important principle to keep in mind: Conferences that do not want to participate with the Council have not been convinced they receive anything of value from the Council and its activities. Councils should never be formed simply for the sake of forming a Council. Councils have a particular purpose and the Conferences must understand what that is.

In the Rule that was in effect prior to 2003, there was a statement that was a clear definition of the purpose of any Council. This statement was in Part II of the Rule, Article 15:

  • Councils are responsible for animating and coordinating the work of SVdP units within their respective jurisdictions.
  • They serve the Conferences. All Councils are first and foremost at the service of the Conferences with a view to furthering charitable activities. Because every Council gathers information about human needs and services from a variety of sources – the community at large, as well as the Conferences – it keeps Conferences in touch with changing social problems and new programs for helping
  • … each year, each Council obtains and compiles a consolidated annual report of all the Conferences and Councils attached to it. The Council’s report is then forwarded with any comments to the next higher Council for the preparation of the annual report of the National Council of the United
  • Councils encourage initiatives and strive to bring about the establishment of Conferences, Councils and new works, and the revival of dormant or defunct
  • A Council reviews and evaluates applications for aggregation and institution that are submitted by its affiliated SVdP groups. If approved at District and Diocesan Council levels, the application is forwarded to the National Council for transmittal to the Council General (International).
  • Councils organize, to the fullest possible extent, training and formation sessions for members and potential members on spiritual themes, the Vincentian vocation, and problems of social action and justice.
  • To coordinate Vincentian work, Councils keep in regular contact with their Conferences and Councils and inform them of the activities of the
    The Council represents its constituent units in contacts with religious and public
  • Each Council determines the expected contribution (solidarity) from attached Conferences and Councils in order to meet its necessary expenses and assist needy Conference and Council groupings attached to
  • Special works of the Society conducted by the Councils must rely on the Conferences for support, personnel and

In the current Rule, these responsibilities have not changed. They are also spelled out but not in so compact a form.

The fact of the matter is that all Conferences should be aware of what the Council is doing for them. Conferences should be receiving benefits from the Council that clearly provide value to them. It is the responsibility of the Council to ensure that Conferences understand this clearly. Ultimately, it is the Conference members themselves who make up the Councils and who make the decisions in support of the Conferences.

STRONG CONFERENCES

Strong Conferences make a strong Council!! It is the Council’s responsibility to assist and guide Conferences in fulfilling the mission of the Society. The best way to do this is to ensure that Conference leadership and members understand what the Society is all about, what the role of the Conference is and what is expected of members.

When Conferences get into trouble (begin to decline or get into some other difficulty), it is far better to be proactive rather than reactive. It is recommended that each Council form a Conference Resources and Concerns Committee to:

  1. Promote understanding and compliance with the Rule, Bylaws and Manual;
  2. Develop resources that will help Conferences to understand and fulfill their roles in the Society;
  3. Provide training materials for Conference leadership;
  4. Monitor Conference activity and act to assist Conferences who are in trouble;
  5. Promote and assist in establishing new Conferences;
  6. Assist in revitalizing existing Conferences, where needed; and
  7. Mediate Conference concerns where

A well-formed Conference Resources and Concerns Committee can monitor Conference activities and offer many aids to make a Conference more effective.

Resolve to Focus on Good Governance

Resolve to Focus on Good Governance 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

The arrival of a new fiscal year is a good time to remind ourselves that loving and supporting one another while serving the poor is an integral part of our Vincentian mission.

Our Conference meetings are where we help each other fulfill that mission of growing spiritually, developing friendships, and having face-to-face encounters with those in need. Meeting at least twice monthly as we should provides the opportunity to continually strengthen those supportive relationships.

Our Councils have a Board of Directors to guide our efforts and oversee our performance. We challenge you to realize that even the best Councils and Conferences can be better and more effective. Our Council Boards and our Conferences should always seek to foster and facilitate improvement. Given the importance of good governance, perhaps this should be your primary resolution for this new year.

Why not start using your Council Board as a support group to review and update your policies and procedures and clean up your record-keeping? Encourage your Conferences to do likewise.

Review your Bylaws. This is a document that spells out your mission, how you operate procedurally and the need for compliance with IRS requirements for nonprofit organizations. They are not meant to be inflexible when circumstances signal a need for revision. Assess your programs to see if they remain relevant and are operating efficiently with the right priority. Take a good look at how your Special Works impact all Vincentians in all of your Conferences. Look at your succession planning. It is of vital significance at all levels of our Society. If your operating procedures, which are a key part of good governance, need changing, take advantage of the Governance Training DVD and program provided for you by our National Council.

Throughout the year we will address some of these important matters further in the E-Gazette. We urge you to read that information and resolve to enhance your effectiveness. In so doing you will be heeding the exhortation of Blessed Frederic Ozanam to always seek to be better in our service to Christ’s beloved poor.

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