Why Every Non-profit Organization Needs Policies
Every non-profit organization needs a structural framework. One supportive component is a policy manual. Policies help to make an organization more stable, because they offer instruction in both common and complex situations.
Policies are written statements that inform people what to do. Problematic situations can be avoided if an appropriate policy is already in place to guide a person’s actions. If a situation is conceivable, then a policy is warranted.
Written policies are especially useful when the board is new. They are useful for onboarding, because they clarify responsibility and explain limitations. They are meant to facilitate not frustrate.
The board adopts policies to make them official. When the board approves a policy, it should be documented in the meeting minutes, but attached separately for quick retrieval.
One policy per page is the standard format. A table of contents is advisable. Typically, the procedures related to the policy are included plus any legislation it coincides with. Use categories, headings, and numbers for ease of reference. Common categories are board policies, personnel policies, administrative policies, financial policies, and fixed assets policies.
The board should review policies regularly, but not all at once. Staggering policy review makes it a more manageable task. The board must be familiar with organizational policies, because they prevent people from doing the wrong thing. Policies demonstrate that the organization is actively managing its risk.
Developing policies and procedures is not an easy task, but they help organizations to make concrete decisions and avoid ambiguity. It is best to lean on policies rather than enforce actions and behaviours without written rules.
Non-profit organizations require a systematic approach to ensure they are controlled and well-coordinated. After all, the board is accountable for the organization’s resources and activities. Take out the policy manual and see if it needs updating.