tip of the week

September 2019

When Would You Pay a Volunteer?

September 26/19

Surprisingly, I get asked this question from time to time. Being a natural smart ass, my first response would be: never, because then you don’t have a volunteer anymore. Duh. 

There is a difference between paying someone and reimbursing them for the expenses that they incur when doing board business.  Each group should set a policy around reimbursements. 

It makes sense to pay a volunteer mileage when they travel on group business, or reimburse them for meals when they are out of town again on group business. If you decide that you are going to pay a person to come to a meeting, then you are getting into two issues – 

One is that the income is taxable and you need to report that and withhold CPP at the least. 

The second issue is that now your board member is no longer a volunteer are they being held to a higher standard of care? The Volunteer Protection Act no longer applies and that person is really now a professional board member. I certainly would expect more from a person who is getting paid than from a volunteer.

What Makes a Volunteer Stay on the Board?

September 19/19

Many non-profit organizations have a hard time getting enough good board members. So of course they would prefer if their board members stayed for as long as the term limit policy allows. My opinion is that a board member will stay on a board if they feel like they are accomplishing something worthwhile. 

Everyone has things to do, the stuff we choose is up to us. Most people don’t go looking for unpleasant situations, so if your board meetings are nasty, you will lose board members. If your organization cannot figure out what it is doing or actually accomplish anything, you will lose board members.

Do you keep track of how long board members stay on your board? Do you have these metrics? It might be a good idea to talk to board members who have left and find out why they made that decision.

Confidentiality Chart

September 12/19

 If your organization has confidential information, then you have a legal obligation to protect this information. I have prepared a chart to make this easy. The chart has columns with the following headings: confidential information, how are we protecting it, who can see it, consent, storage and disposal. This chart is also available in my new Confidentiality governance guide coming out in October. 


The example above is a common one. If you have employee Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) then you have to be able to explain how you protect this information. It’s likely done with locked cabinets and passwords. You have a list of who can see the SIN’s and you have consent from the employee to have this information. 

How you are storing dead files is another area where you want to be sure you are protecting privacy and the disposal of documents. Once the retention period is over is another concern. If you use this chart you will be able to explain to anyone how you are complying with the laws.

Why Don't we get Compliance?

September 5 /19

 I have been talking about compliance all summer. This tip asks the question: Why don’t your stakeholders follow the policies?

Possible reasons for non-compliance:

· Stakeholders do not recognize the authority of those who make the policies

· Policies are not good, not well explained, no one knows why the policy exists

· No one is observing or measuring compliance

· There are no consequences for non-compliance

Assuming you have followed COMPLY then the following has happened; you have communicated the policies, you have observed and measured, penalties are in place and the leadership is on board. What if you still do not have compliance?

What if the stakeholders do not accept your authority? Then it does not matter that you have communicated the policies. No one cares. 

Why do people drive their vehicles faster than the posted speed limit? They want to go faster, and they don’t like being bossed around by the government. They will speed until they get caught. The penalties might change their behaviour or maybe not. Some people keep up speeding until they lose their license. Even then there are those who will drive without a license.

Sometimes, even if you follow my amazing acronym, compliance does not improve. This is when you might find out that the stakeholders do not recognize your authority. You see this with parenting sometimes, the cause is lost, the children will not behave.