Transcript

Moderator Sam Lawry:

SAM

Hello, and welcome to our webinar for new board members: Welcome to the board.

I’m Sam, the ACNC’s Guidance & Education Manager and with me today is Manori, who is a Communications Officer with the ACNC. I also bring experience, as many ACNC staffers do, of being on the board of a not-for-profit.

Welcome Manori

[Hi Sam]

Also with us today is Natasha Sekulic. Tash is one of the ACNC’s lawyers and will be here to answer any of the more technical questions that may be asked during the webinar.

Also joining us is Jess Horey, Compliance Manager from our Compliance team. She will be working with Elisha, who is from our Advice Services team to answer any questions you may have along the way.

Throughout the webinar, you can ask a question at any time in the GoToWebinar panel on your screen. We will be able to answer your questions directly – but if we think the answers would be useful for everyone, we can also respond in a way that will allow everyone to see the question and also the answer – but not who asked it. Please let us know if you’d like your question to remain private. If there are any questions we can’t answer today we’ll provide answers later. We’ll also allow some time for some questions at the end, after the formal presentation has finished, when we’ll stay online to chat.

The purpose of this webinar is to introduce you to being a board member of a charity registered with the ACNC. We’ll give you the regulator’s perspective on what it means to be a board member, what your duties are and some key things you’ll need to know and do.

A recording of this webinar, and the transcript and slides, will be available on our website within a few days of the webinar. If you have any difficulties with the sound on your computer, try calling the phone number listed in the GoToWebinar control panel.

Finally, we value any suggestions you have to improve our webinars in the future. So please pass on your suggestions in the survey at the end of this session.

SAM

First of all, for new board members – congratulations on your appointment!

Now, a bit of an overview of what we’re covering today. As a starting point, I’ll say that we are talking about board members, for convenience, but what we are covering applies to anyone with a governance role in the charity who fits the definition of what the ACNC refers to as a ‘responsible person’ (called a ‘responsible entity’ in the ACNC Act). These people include board and committee of management members as well as trustees.

Today’s session aims to introduce you to being a board member for a registered charity. It won’t cover everything you need to know about good governance – there are plenty of resources available that do that (including our own Governance for good guide) – but it will cover some of the key issues you’ll need to be aware of so that you can feel confident to undertake your role in a responsible way.

First, we’ll give you an overview of what the ACNC does and how it relates to your charity.

Then we’ll also outline the responsibilities you have to your charity as a board member.

After that we’ll get into more detail about some of the key issues, such as your role in ensuring that your charity:

  • operates as a not-for-profit and works towards its purpose,
  • is accountable to its members,
  • manages its finances responsibly and
  • manages any conflicts of interest that board members may have.

We’ll also point to where you can get more information along the way.

SAM

First, we’ll take a look at the ACNC, and its role in relation to your charity.

SAM

If I’d never heard of the ACNC before today, how would you explain what it does and what its role is?

MANORI

The ACNC is the independent, national regulator of charities.

We are a specialist charity regulator and there are essentially five functions we perform:

  • We register charities. Registration with the ACNC is voluntary, but you must be registered to receive charity tax concessions and other the other benefits of charity status.
  • We maintain an online database of registered charities – the Charity Register. This is freely available, searchable and used by the public, donors, volunteers, grant-makers and government. There is an increasing awareness of the Charity Register, and it is now being frequently used as a checking tool when, for example, government agencies are reviewing charities before awarding grants.
  • We also provide advice, guidance and education to charities on their obligations to the ACNC. Advice is available via our phone line, email and mail service, and we provide guidance and education print, online and face-to-face formats.
  • We monitor the compliance of charities with the requirements of being registered – such as meeting the governance standards and lodging and annual information statement. We also respond to concerns raised about charities by the public and other government agencies.

And finally,

  • we have a responsibility in all of our work to try to reduce red tape for charities, by ensuring our processes are as streamlined as possible and by working with other agencies to try to harmonise reporting requirements.

So, that’s what the ACNC does, but let’s look quickly at the obligations of registered charities.

MANORI

All charities are required to meet certain obligations to the ACNC. A registered charity must continue to meet these to stay registered.

Firstly – you must maintain your entitlement to be registered as a charity. This means being a not-for-profit and pursuing your charitable purpose. We’ll talk more about these things later in this webinar.

You need to keep records, which his also good practice and can help your charity to do its work efficiently. You must keep both operational and financial records and you do not have to provide these to the ACNC unless we ask you for them.

Your charity must submit a report about your operations and finances to the ACNC every year – this is called the Annual Information Statement or AIS. You can submit your AIS online through the ACNC Charity Portal.

You can also use the Charity Portal to notify us when certain things at your charity change. You must notify us if there are changes to your charity’s:

  1. name
  2. governing documents (like its rules)
  3. responsible persons – that is, board members like you, or
  4. address for service.

And finally, and probably most of interest to you as a board member, your charity must meet the ACNC governance standards – which we will cover in more detail shortly.

Thanks, Manori.

Just one more question about these requirements. Some people might be wondering, what should they do if they become aware of their charity failing to meet any of its obligations to us, or, for example, if there is an error in information that the charity has provided the ACNC with?

MANORI

Well, Sam, there is a duty to notify us if those things occur. Of course, the sooner people let us know of these issues, the better, and if they aren’t sure, our Advice services team is always happy to answer any queries.

MANORI

And as I said before, registered charities need to meet a set of governance standards which set out minimum requirements for the governance. They help charities to remain trusted by the public and continue to do their charitable work in a way that meets their obligations under the law.

They are not a description of ‘best practice’ in governance, but rather a set of minimum standards that all charities must meet. The standards are ‘outcomes based’, meaning that they do not exactly describe how a charity must comply with the standard, but instead set an minimum outcome that must be achieved. We’ve got more information about each standard, and an example of how they can be met on our website.

SAM

Are there any charities that may have additional requirements?

MANORI

Yes, Sam. If your charity has any additional requirements – such as in its constitution or under any laws that may apply to it – the governance standards are in addition to these requirements. For example, incorporated associations may be required under state or territory laws to hold annual general meetings. The standards don’t require this specifically of registered charities, although holding an AGM can be a good way to meet governance standard 2.

SAM

I know from my own experience that being a member of a board is a privilege and can be a great opportunity to learn new skills and actively participate in the life of a not-for-profit. It can be a big commitment, though. Do you think that when people join boards, they know what they are signing up for?

MANORI

Being on a board is very rewarding, and you can learn a lot, as well as giving something back, by donating your time, skills and experience. But joining a board also means accepting a significant responsibility: to the charity, its members, beneficiaries and the broader community. This is why it’s important to understand what your responsibilities are, as well as those of your charity.

The work of a board is instrumental to the success (or otherwise) of a charity. Being a board member is more than simply being a volunteer. You have a specific legal role in the organisation and certain responsibilities to the charity and board members should make sure they are aware of the extent of these responsibilities before they agree to accept the role.

SAM

So, collectively, the members of a charity’s board share ultimate responsibility for the way a charity is run. As a group, board members exercise power within a charity that, effectively applied, can make a significant contribution to the success of a charity.

As a board member, you have a special relationship with your charity. Your charity places trust in the members of its board to act on its behalf - and to do so with the best interests of the charity in mind.

As a result – you owe duties to your charity: we’ll talk about these in more detail, but they are, broadly, to act carefully and diligently, and always in the best interest of your charity and for a proper purpose.

The charity has duties not only to its beneficiaries, but also to the ACNC and other agencies, such as fundraising and incorporating regulators.

As part of this exchange, the public has trust and confidence in charities.

So, how does this trust relationship create duties, and what are those duties?

MANORI

The charity places trust in you to serve its best interests as a board member and, collectively, as a board. When you become a board member, you accept the responsibilities that come with this trust – your duties. These reflect the expectations the community has of people in the position of board members and they are enshrined in law. Some duties vary, depending on the legal structure of your charity. But those duties are owed to the charity.

It is for this reason that board members and other responsible persons have a greater responsibility to the charity than other volunteers. Accepting the trust of your charity to act as one of its board members means giving what is required of you to fulfil the role in full and to meet the duties you owe your charity.

Let’s take a look at some of the particular duties for the board members of registered charities.

SAM

A few moments ago, we referred to the ACNC governance standards, which apply to registered charities. Governance standard five sets out that charities must take reasonable steps to ensure that seven specific duties apply to their responsible persons, and that their responsible persons follow them.

These duties come from the common law, and have well-established meanings:

  • The first duty requires that responsible persons exercise a degree of care and diligence in their roles – such as reading any papers, turning up for meetings on time and making sure that they are appropriately informed about any matter on which they need to make a decision.
  • Duty number two requires that you always act honestly and fairly, but importantly, in the best interest of your charity. When you become a board member for a charity, you accept a duty to act in its best interests and you must ensure that you are always doing so when acting as a board member and that you do so in a way that is consistent with your charity’s charitable purpose.
  • The third duty requires that you not misuse your position. For example, you must not use your position to intimidate staff or act on behalf of the charity at public events when you are not authorised to do so.
  • The fourth duty requires that you not use any information you gain in your position as a board member, in a way that is improper. For example, if you gain access to confidential information in the course of your work as a board member, this must only be used for the purposes of informing any decisions you make on that board.
  • Under the fifth duty, a responsible person who has or may appear to have a ‘material conflict of interest’ in a decision being made by the directors should tell the other responsible persons about it. Once the other directors are told about the interest, the charity must also take steps to ensure that this conflict is managed appropriately.
  • The sixth duty you have is to ensure that your charity’s financial affairs are managed responsibly. This means understanding your charity’s financial position and making decisions which will not endanger its financial health. This duty is not intended to discourage you from being innovative or taking risks, but rather to encourage charities to maintain appropriate financial systems and procedures to ensure its ongoing financial sustainability.
  • Finally, the seventh duty: you must ensure that your charity does not operate while it is insolvent. This means that your charity must be able to pay its debts as and when they fall due.

Later in this webinar, we’ll look at the key issues that board members face and how these can be related back to the governance standards. Now we’ll look at what the board does as a group, and what individual board members do to contribute to the work of the board.

MANORI

The work of boards is diverse and varies significantly between charities. The way a board approaches its work may change, but there are some essential components common to the work of boards. These include things such as:

Setting longer term or ‘big picture’ goals and making sure the work of the charity is aligned with the purposes for which it exists, as well as short-term (or milestone) goals that help to track progress towards achieving it.

This usually involves work such as overseeing the development of a strategic plan and ensuring the alignment of any corporate or business plans to the goals of the organisation.

Facilitating accountability within a charity – ensuring that the work of the charity is explained to the members and that they have a reasonable opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns about the way a charity is run.

Board members are responsible for ensuring that they themselves are accountable, but also that structures and processes exist so that there is accountability throughout the charity.

Ensuring that a charity is compliant with any obligations it may have under the law. As the custodians of a charity, board members need to be confident that their charity is meeting its legal obligations.

One of the most important responsibilities of board members relates to gaining and maintaining funding and other resources (for example, volunteer time).

The board must work to gather the resources necessary for a charity to undertake it’s work, but also to ensure that they are protected from abuse and used in an efficient and lawful way.

Boards also monitor progress towards goals, in particular, making sure the work of the charity is contributing towards achieving its purpose. This particular activity has a strong link to the first point we discussed – setting the strategy.

And finally, managing risk. The board identifies major strategic risks and ensures that there are systems in place to identify, manage and respond to risks throughout the charity. For example, having financial controls in place to manage any risk of fraud.

SAM

So, how can an individual board member contribute to the work of the board?

MANORI

There’s a great deal an individual member can – and must – do. As part of exercising their role and duties, board members need to, among other things:

Prepare for and attend board meetings this means reading any board papers in full, as well as undertaking any independent research you need to do in order to be properly informed about matters being discussed

Keep informed about the charity – including about its financial and operating position, risks and issues it faces, as well as opportunities it may have.

Listen to and participate in discussion at the board meeting – board members are generally expected to be active participants in the decision-making processes, and engaging in these discussions is part of doing your due diligence.

As part of this process, board members also make decisions on behalf of the charity – and this may mean, at times, that you may be required to voteon certain decisions.

Finally, most board members will be part of a sub-committee a committee of the board charged with specific responsibility – or otherwise be involved in some project work that happens outside of board meetings.

SAM

So these are actions board members of all types can take. Is there anything in particular that board members of registered charities need to be aware of?

MANORI

Well, we’ve come up with a few points that we think board members should be are of based on our work in compliance, feedback from charities and the collective experience and expertise as specialists in our not-for-profit sector.

MANORI

To begin with, under ACNC governance standard 1, charities must be able to demonstrate that they have a charitable purpose, and work to pursue that purpose. As a board member, you should be familiar with this purpose in order to make sure your charity is working towards it.

So what is a charitable purpose?

Essentially, it is the reason your organisation was set up – or what your activities work towards. It is at the heart of what it does.

All charities registered with the ACNC must have a ‘charitable purpose’ which meets the definition set out in the Charities Act 2013.

The first step you should take is to find out what your charity’s purpose is.

MANORI

Charities usually record their charitable purpose as their ‘object’ or ‘purpose’ within their governing documents. These are the charity’s constitution, rules, articles of association or other document that sets out how it is established and operates. If your charity has them, it’s important, as a board member, to understand the governing documents.

Knowing exactly what your charity is trying to achieve is essential to succeeding as a board member. You cannot begin work on how to get to your destination before you know what your destination is. As a board member, it’s your job to ensure that your charity stays on course and, yes, part of your job is to ask: “are we there yet?”

MANORI

So, in summary:

  • Make sure you understand what your charity’s charitable purpose is, and
  • Familiarise yourself with any documents that explain it.
  • When you are making decisions as a board member, consider whether your decisions are in alignment with your charitable purpose and, at regular intervals, review how you are working towards it.
  • When making a decision, you should ask yourself how it will contribute to working towards your charity’s purpose.

MANORI

Governance standard 1 requires your charity to be able to demonstrate that it is a not-for-profit.

A not-for-profit is an organisation that does not operate for the profit, personal gain or other benefit of particular people (for example, its members, the people who run it or their friends or relatives).

This does not mean that your charity cannot make a profit. It simply means that any profit made must go towards pursuing its charitable purpose.

MANORI

There are some simple steps that you can take to be confident that your charity is a not-for-profit.

One of the easiest ways is to make sure that your charity’s governing documents contains clauses which require it to operate as a not-for-profit. If your governing documents already includes clauses such as these, make sure you’ve read them, understand them, and you know how to find them if the need arises.

As a board member of a not-for-profit, your responsibility is to ensure that there are systems in place that ensure that your charity operates as a not-for-profit in word and also in deed.

Another way you can do this is through establishing a policy to prevent the misuse of funds and assets for private benefit. A policy on a topic such as this might include information such as how your assets will be used, who to report suspected misuses to and what steps you will take if there is a breach.

Of course, central to all this is ensuring that the people involved with your charity know that it is a not-for-profit. New board members, staff or volunteers should clearly understand what being a not-for-profit means and what their responsibilities are to the organisation as a result.

Finally, it’s a good idea to establish strong financial controls which will enable you to determine whether your charity’s assets are being used for their not-for-profit purpose.

You can find out more about what it means to be not-for-profit at acnc.gov.au/notforprofit.

As a board member, you should ask yourself:

Are my charity’s money and assets being used solely for its charitable work? And are there systems in place which protect them from being misused?

SAM

Governance standard 2 requires that your charity is accountable to its members. You can help support this by ensuring your charity communicates with its members about the decisions it makes and provides them with an opportunity to be heard.

SAM

There are a number of ways your charity can be accountable to its members. For example:

Develop a policy which outlines how your charity will respond to members. For example, if a member wants to ask a question of the board, is there a certain timeframe within which the board has to respond? Or a process that needs to be followed in the even of a dispute? Everyone in your charity should be clear about the processes that make your charity accountable.

And finally – communicate regularly.

Provide reports to your members, stakeholders, supporters and clients. Charities do this in a number of ways – such as through providing regular newsletters, email bulletins for important updates and, usually, an annual report.

You could hold meetings with your members. Most charities will hold an annual general meeting….

And it’s a good idea to ensure that you provide members with the opportunity to ask questions, and to receive honest and fair answers. How you do this may be up to you, but you should make sure that your members have reasonable opportunity to ask questions and to raise concerns about the way your charity is run.

You should ask yourself:

Ask yourself: How can my charity’s members find out about the charity’s work and ask questions about the way we do our work?

MANORI

As a board member, you have a general responsibility to act with reasonable care and diligence. Governance standard 5 requires the charity to ensure that board members undertake their duties this way.

MANORI

As a board member, you should aim to be careful and diligent in all your work. Remember, you are the custodian of a charity on behalf of its members, beneficiaries and the community – and the expectations of your care in this role are higher as a result. However, there are some simple things to consider which may help you to meet these expectations:

Participate actively in the discussion of any meeting you attend. You should make your views known and seek to understand the views of others, and the reasons that they have arrived at these views.

It may sometimes be necessary for you to undertake independent research. You need to make sure you have the relevant facts for any decision you may make, but sometimes it can be useful to understand the boarder context of a decision, or to review what others have done in similar circumstances. You should not rely exclusively on the information provided to you as a board member by your charity’s staff or volunteers.

As part of this process, you should make sure you are asking questions about anything you don’t understand. It’s your duty to understand any information relevant to a decision you have to make and – if you’re not comfortable about a decision, you should feel confident to ask for more information or more time to consider.

You should also reflect on whether you are making any assumptions as part of your decision making processes. Identifying and testing your assumptions will help you to make more reliable and informed decisions as a board member.

Identifying risks – and deciding how they are managed – is a core part of the responsibilities of the board, and considering what the risks are of any decision you may make is part of doing your due diligence.

You should ask yourself – would someone observing my conduct as a board member feel that I was being careful and diligent in my work?

MANORI

Of course, you can seek and – up to a point – rely on the advice of an expert. But you must not do so blindly. You should carefully consider any advice you are given and ask questions to ensure that you understand it, especially if you identify any inconsistencies. Professional advisers play an important role within charities, but your duties require that you exercise a questioning mind when you are receiving advice.

You should be exercising diligence when selecting who you take your advice from, how you interpret their advice and what you do with it. Remember, even if someone is an expert, their advice may not be right for you in your particular circumstances.

SAM

Our next key point relates to the primary duty of all board members, which is to always act in the best interests of their charity, and to put these interests above their own and those of people close to them, such as family members. This is called managing conflicts of interest.

Registered charities have to ensure their responsible persons are aware of and follow their duty to disclose conflicts (governance standard 5, duty 5) as well as their duty to act honestly and fairly in the best interests of the charity and for its charitable purposes (governance standard 5, duty 2).

We’ll go into this in a bit of detail as it’s a common issue.

Why do you think conflicts of interest can arise for members of charity boards?

MANORI

Board members are often people with numerous family, social and business relationships. These relationships are often of great benefit to the charity itself and great board members will leverage these relationships to assist the charity to achieve its goals.

However, the relationships and other interests that board members have can sometimes conflict with their duty to act in the best interests of their charity.

When this happens, this creates a conflict of an interest: a situation in which two competing interests make it difficult or impossible for you to discharge your role as a board member.

MANORI

There are essentially three different types of conflict of interest.

The first are actual conflicts. This is where your interests are actually in conflict with your duties to the charity.

For example, if you are on the board of a charity that is considering giving a grant to a kindergarten that your child attends – you will have an actual conflict of interest.

Second we have potential conflicts. This is where you do not currently have a conflict, but there is a potential for a conflict to arise.

For example, you are on the board of one charity and you are employed at another in a role where you might, at some point, apply for a grant from the charity you are on the board of. This could, potentially become a conflict of interest.

Finally, there are perceived conflicts of interest. This is where you may not necessarily have a conflict, but an outsider might perceive that you do. Although they may not prevent you from acting impartially, this type of conflict may still damage your organisation’s reputation and it is important to take them seriously.

For example, if you are reviewing quotes for a service and one of the potential providers is the employer of your sibling. While you believe you can make an impartial decision in the best interests of the charity, it could be perceived as being made in your own interest.

MANORI

Let’s consider an example.

Rajsri is a paediatrician and a member of the board of the Healthy Hospital. As we have previously outlined, this means she has duties to Healthy Hospital as a board member.

The hospital is considering opening a new children’s clinic in a nearby town, serviced by doctors from its own facility.

Rajsri’s private practice is located at this town, and she is concerned that if Healthy Hospital operates a children’s clinic nearby, she might lose patients, and thus her business would make less money.

Because Rajsri has an interest in the success of her private practice, but also a duty to act in the best interests of the Healthy Hospital, she is experiencing a conflict of interests.

In this situation, Rajsri should declare her conflict to the board, and the remaining board members should decide on an appropriate course of action to manage this conflict. In this situation, it’s likely that the board would decide that Rajsri should not participate in the discussion or vote on the matter – and they may even consider it appropriate to ask her to leave the room for the duration of the discussion.

MANORI

Most board members will experience a conflict of interest at some point – and conflicts of interest do not have to be a problem for your charity if managed properly. There are some simple steps you can take to respond to these conflicts. These align with the governance standards’ requirements.

Make sure you are aware if any interests you have that could influence you as a board member. This is largely a reflective exercise, but it’s good to consider how you might be conflicted in your duties based on other interests you may have such as shares in businesses, memberships of organisations or other board roles you may have.

If you do have any conflicts of interest – either those that relate to a particular decision or any that might be more ongoing – make sure you declare your conflict of interest to your fellow board members as soon as you can. If you are uncertain as to whether or not you have a conflict, err on the side of caution and raise the issue with your fellow board members so that they can consider and decide on the best course of action.

If your charity doesn’t already have one, you should develop a policy on how you identify and manage conflicts of interest in your charity. If you already have one, make sure you know it and follow it.

Finally, it’s a good idea to develop and maintain a register of interests. This is a document where conflicts of interest are recorded so that you can keep track of them – and also record information about any steps you may have taken to address a conflict. Make sure you keep this document up-to-date and that you refer to it often.

You should ask yourself – as a board member, am I confident that I can declare and manage conflicts of interest if they arise?

SAM

Our final point is about the importance of board members understanding their charity’s finances and, importantly, how their decisions as a board member impact a charity’s financial situation. These particular duties are spelt out in governance standard 5, specifically to:

  • ensure that the financial affairs of the charity are managed responsibly, - under Duty 6, and
  • not to allow the charity to operate while it is insolvent – under Duty 7:

As discussed earlier in the webinar, ensuring that your charity has access to the resources it needs to do its work – and that these resources are appropriately managed and protected – is one of the key responsibilities of boards.

We’ll now talk about what is expected of board members, in terms of their own understanding of finances.

SAM

As a board member, you must have a level of financial literacy that will enable you to make informed decisions about your charity’s finances. While many boards appoint treasurers and board members with financial expertise, every board member must be able to read and understand a charity’s financial information. You may need to participate in some training to improve your financial literacy as part of your role.

As discussed earlier in this presentation, you are required as a board member to be appropriately informed about the matters on which you may make a decision. You cannot make informed decisions about your charity’s finances without an understanding of the concepts that relate to them.

At the very least, you should be able to determine whether your charity is solvent and what the impact of any decision you make will be on your charity’s financial health.

SAM

We’ve had feedback from charities, especially small ones who may only be managing minimal budgets, that understanding reporting requirements can be difficult. How much knowledge does the average board member need?

MANORI

Financial literacy is an area that many board members find difficult– but it is an important part of your role.

You are not expected to have the same level of expertise as a professional in finance such as an accountant. However, you must ensure that your financial literacy is sufficient to read and understand your charity’s accounts. You cannot rely exclusively on the treasurer or another board member.

Let’s have a look at one of the most important financial concepts for board members – solvency!

MANORI

Being solvent means being able to pay your debts as and when they become due and payable.

This means that you must have access to cash (or assets that can be converted to cash quickly enough) to pay any debts that your charity may have in full and when they are due. This can be difficult to manage, like it is for many small businesses, when there may be delays in bills or invoicing arriving, and there may be insufficient funds to pay those bills when they arrive.

If your charity is unable to pay its bills and other debts, it is insolvent.

One of your duties as a board member of a charity is to ensure that your charity does not continue to operate if it is insolvent.

Strong financial controls and diligent financial management are the best protections against a charity becoming insolvent. If your assets (the things you own) do not exceed your liabilities (the things you owe), or if there is consistently more cash going out of your organisation than coming in (sometimes called negative cashflow) – these may be strong warning signs that your charity is heading towards insolvency.

If you are concerned that your charity is or may become insolvent, you should seek professional advice as soon as possible.

In summary:

As a board member, you should make sure that you are closely reviewing your charity’s finances. This means reading any financial reports and trying to pick out anything that looks unusual or concerning. It’s a good idea to consider verifying some calculations yourself, especially if they are informing assumption’s about your charity’s financial health.

If there are things about your charity’s finances that you don’t understand, you should feel confident to ask questions and to ask for more information.

If you are making a decision that could have an impact on your charity’s financial health – consider what this impact might be and whether it is appropriate for your charity.

And finally, monitor your charity’s solvency and make sure that you are confident that your charity is not, or is not heading towards being, insolvent.

Ask yourself – do I under understand my charity’s financial position and how my decision will affect it?

SAM
Thanks. Well, I think that’s quite a bit to take in, don’t you?

Now, a bit of a wrap-up of what we’ve covered today. Obviously each one of these topics could be covered in detail in own webinar topic, but hopefully you have gained an understanding of some of the key obligations of charities and board members, as well as some of the key areas we see as issues for boards and charities generally.

We gave you an overview of what the ACNC does and how it relates to your charity and then outlined the responsibilities you have to your charity as a board member.

We also looked at some of the most significant issues relevant to the work of charity board members. These were:

  • Knowing your charity’s purpose, where to find it and to always consider whether your actions as a board member align with it
  • Ensuring that your charity is a not-for-profit and that there are processes in place that support this.
  • Being accountable to your charity’s members
  • Acting with care and diligence in your role as a board member
  • Properly responding to actual, potential and perceived conflicts of interest, and
  • Managing your charity’s finances responsibly

Now we’ll have a look at other sources of information for you, in exercising your role as a charity board member.

SAM

While we go through other sources of information on our website on this webinar’s topic, feel free to ask any questions via the question box on your dashboard, and we’ll allow time for answering them at the end of our presentation.

MANORI

Our website has plenty of additional information that will provide more detail on some of the topics we’ve covered today – especially with regard to your obligations as a charity.

On this slide, we’ve included the links to several pages that are relevant to today’s webinar. You can access any of these pages by going to acnc.gov.au forward slash – ongoingobligations, governancestandards and so on.

We have a range of resources that aim to support charities and board members in their roles. For example, our guide ‘Governance for good’ explains the responsibilities of board members and the role of governance within charities – another guide: ‘Protect your charity from fraud’ explains the role of financial controls in keeping your charity’s resources protected from misuse.

In the footer of our website, you’ll also find a page with useful links to other sources of information such as other government agencies, not-for-profit organisations that support the work of charities and professional advisers.

SAM

You can stay in touch with the ACNC in a number of ways, particularly by subscribing to our updates via the homepage. Find out more information about the ACNC’s program of webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars and visit our multimedia page under Publications/Media Centre for educational videos.

Call us on 13 ACNC – which is 13 22 62. Our phone lines are open between 9.00 am and 6.00 pm Monday to Friday AEST – and they are staffed by helpful people like Elisha who understand the charity sector and can provide advice on how charities can meet their obligations to the ACNC. Our staff are trained to give general advice on a range of topics related to the regulation of charities. You can also email them at advice@acnc.gov.au – this is a particularly good idea if your issue is complex or if you think it will need detailed consideration.

And, of course, we’re active on social media – so you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

SAM

And that brings us to the end of our webinar.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to joining us today, and thank you for your questions. We hope that this has been useful to you and helped you to further your understanding of the responsibilities and opportunities that come with being a board member.

These webinars run at least monthly and cover a range of topics. The next in this series will be held on 5 April 2016 and will focus on what happens once your charity is registered. You can sign up to attend this webinar, and any others, at acnc.gov.au/webinars. A recording and transcript of this webinar and any other webinars will be available on this page as well.

We are always looking for ways to improve our education products and so we would appreciate it if you took the time to fill out the evaluation for this webinar which will be mailed out in the coming days.

If you have any additional comments or questions, you can get in touch with the ACNC Education team directly at education@acnc.gov.au.

Well, that’s it from me, and the formal presentation. We’ll stay online for a while in case you have any last-minute questions.

Thank you to Manori, and all my ACNC colleagues for helping to prepare and present this webinar today.

Thanks also to everyone who participated - we hope you found it useful (tell us in the survey!) and and we’ll see you next time.

Transcript
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