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Feb 02

Non-Profit Policies

Posted on February 2, 2016 at 2:14 PM by Web Master

Policies are internal rules of the organization. They are the will of the board since board members pose and pass policies during board meetings. They are recorded in the minutes and then filed into a policy binder. A written policy answers
what an organization will do in certain situations. Policies are necessary to ensure consistent decision making. They don’t change very often, but if a policy is no longer serving its purpose, then it should be amended or revoked. Policies are easier to change than bylaws, so the majority of your internal rules will be written in the form of a policy.

Developing policies can be a large project. Yet, they are needed to describe a systematic and consistent answer when people are in doubt. Policies explain this is what we do in this particular circumstance. Remember that policies must be in harmony with your organization’s bylaws. Together, these two written documents ought to address any uncertainty about what to do in any given situation. A non-profit without written rules leaves board members in a vulnerable position. Clear policies demonstrate that an organization is professional and protects its assets (people, reputation, donations, etc).

A good policy is easily interpreted. It must have a clear purpose written in plain language. The best policy manual will only list one policy per page to make it easier to do updates. A policy manual is stored in an accessible location and is communicated to all relevant people (board members, staff, volunteers, contractors, etc).

To start writing a policy you need to establish a format, because all policies should look the same way. There are many templates to be found online. Always start with a draft version and discuss it with your colleagues. Once you agree on a final version, then bring it to the board to authorize and implement. Policies should indicate the date they were adopted, plus record the date they were amended. It will help you to keep track of the policy’s history and relevancy.

Organizations should learn about the most common and necessary policies used by non-profits. Typically, the categories include governance policies, corporate administration policies, advocacy policies, financial management policies, human resources policies, and technology policies. These categories encompass all of the policies you’re already familiar with, plus many more that you’ve probably never thought about! The size and scope of your organization will determine what policies are warranted. It is possible to write too many policies and become overly restrictive. In spite of that, people need to know what is expected of them and what the limits are.

Write your organization’s policies today and if you already have a complete set of policies, then review them regularly and update them as needed.