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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?”

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.)


08-25-2022 Questions and Answers

08-25-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: We have a situation with a Conference working with an individual who is “cheating the system” to get more help. Would it be wise for them to report this to the police or just let it go? 

A: One of the categories in our non-discrimination statement is “criminal justice status.” We also are concerned about the safety of children and vulnerable adults. If the suspicion of “cheating the system” is serious enough then it should be reported, as a matter of conscience.

Q: When two meetings are held in the month — can the Reflection be omitted from one of the meetings to shorten the length of the meeting? I always believed having a Reflection item on the agenda was a necessary item in all meetings.

A: All meetings must incorporate spirituality, fellowship, and service. While it could take several forms of varying lengths, some element of Spirituality must be included in every meeting agenda.

Spanish Translation

P: Tenemos una situación con una Conferencia que trabaja con una persona que está “engañando al sistema” para obtener más ayuda. ¿Sería prudente para ellos informar esto a la policía o simplemente dejarlo pasar? 

R: Una de las categorías en nuestra declaración de no discriminación es “estado de justicia criminal.” También nos preocupa la seguridad de los niños y adultos vulnerables. Si la sospecha de “engañar al sistema” es lo suficientemente grave, debe denunciarse, como cuestión de conciencia.

P: Cuando se llevan a cabo dos reuniones en el mes, ¿se puede omitir la Reflexión de una de las reuniones para acortar la duración de la reunión? Siempre creí que tener un tema de Reflexión en la agenda era un tema necesario en todas las reuniones.

R: Todas las reuniones deben incorporar espiritualidad, compañerismo y servicio. Si bien podría tomar varias formas de duración variable, se debe incluir algún elemento de espiritualidad en la agenda de cada reunión.

Governance: Annual Review — Part Two

Governance: Annual Review — Part Two 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

*(Excerpted from Vincentian Life: Conference)

IRS Form 990

The IRS requires all nonprofits to submit a Form 990 describing their financials and works at the end of their fiscal year. The IRS gives our Councils and Conferences until February 15 of the following year to submit this report. However, not all Conferences are required to submit it.

Only those Conferences that have their own EIN need to submit this report. For all Conferences that have been allowed to use their Council’s EIN, the Council (District or Diocesan) will submit a consolidated 990 to the IRS which includes the Conference information. (Additional information about submitting Form 990 tax returns appears at the end of this article.)


The Conference guidelines for service should be reviewed each year during October and/or November to ensure that they reflect current conditions. This is the time that changes in the guidelines should be considered. However, the guidelines are the work of the Conference members and they may change them at any time. There is nothing magic about this time of year. A regular review is good practice.


This is the time of year recommended for all Conferences to have an annual audit. This is an informal audit and may be done by two or three members of the Conference, but not by those responsible for accounting or disbursing funds. The purpose of the audit is not to find fault. Its purpose is to assure the members of the Conference that all proper procedures are being followed and all the funds of the Conference have been reconciled on a regular basis. It is recommended that an audit take place when a new President takes office.

The National Council website has a sample audit procedure on the Growth & Revitalization page under Conference Officer Training.


In the Manual of the Society, there is a list of the various types of documents and records that the Conferences typically deal with. Some are kept permanently. Some are kept for seven years and then destroyed. Some are kept for three years and then destroyed. Some are kept for one year.

The beginning of the fiscal year is the time for the Secretary and Treasurer to review their records and do what is appropriate with each type of document.


The beginning of the fiscal year is a time to ensure that everything related to last year has been properly reviewed and reported. It is also time for records to be properly stored. This is a time when Conference members should have every assurance that they are moving into the new fiscal year in good form.

Form 990 Tax Returns

Tax-exempt organizations, such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which operate with a 501(c)(3) status are obligated to report their activities to the Internal Revenue Service on an annual basis. This reporting is done on a Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. The form is intended to give the government and public a picture of the organization’s activities each year. Some donors rely on Form 990 as their primary or sole source of information about a particular organization when selecting charities to support.

Form 990 includes information about the organization’s finances, governance, and compliance with certain federal tax filings and requirements, as well as compensation paid to the highest-earning employees. Additional schedules may be required depending upon the entity.

Generally, subsidiary Conferences that are using the Council’s EIN can rely upon the Council to submit a Form 990 to the IRS if they provide their information to the Council. A Conference whose tax exemption is covered under a Council’s group ruling must annually submit a Form 990 for their individual EIN. The Form 990 is due on the 15th day of the 5th month following the end of the organization’s taxable year. Most Councils end their fiscal year on September 30. These Councils should file their tax return by February 15.

There are two alternate versions of Form 990:

  • Some Councils may be eligible to complete a simplified Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. Criteria include gross receipts of less than $200,000 and total assets less than $500,000 at the end of the tax year. The short form is also open to public inspection.
  • Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ, applies to small tax-exempt organizations with annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less. Councils and Conferences that are included in a group return may not use this form. Furthermore, it is important to note that the 990-N must be completed and filed electronically. There is no paper form.

Conference and Councils are encouraged to seek professional advice by hiring an accounting firm or Certified Public Accountant familiar with nonprofit taxes to review the organization’s finances in order to produce audited financial statements and the Form 990 tax return.  Accounting firms will typically complete Form 990 on behalf of the organization, ask leadership to review the documents and file on your behalf.

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