Not-for-Profits need good governance too

Directors in Australia’s 100,000 not-for-profit (NFP) organisations need to manage conflicts of interest just as transparently and robustly as their business counterparts, is the message of a new ‘how to’ guide published by Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA).

“Governance is not just about the top 200 companies. It doesn’t matter whether an organisation is driven by the bottom line, or by a deep-rooted ethical mission; the board’s responsibility does not change. It is to provide the strategic direction necessary to attain its goals,” CSA Chief Executive, Mr Tim Sheehy, said about the booklet Managing Conflicts of Interest in the NFP Sector.

This process can be compromised, however, if conflicts of interest come into play, and NFP’s are particularly vulnerable to these.

“The interests of stakeholders in NFP’s are often more diffuse than the interests of those in private sector businesses, so there is considerably more scope for suspected or actual conflicts to arise. They can also be more personal, and harder to resolve.

“This booklet provides a clear framework to both identify and avoid potential conflicts, together with practical examples and tools for managing them,” Mr Sheehy said.

It is believed there are over 100,000 NFP’s in Australia, although the exact number is unknown because they are not separately identified by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on its database. CSA developed the guide in recognition of the large contribution NFP’s make to the community and the economy.

“We have also seen that many of our own members provide their skills and expertise to serve in volunteer roles. People with broad business skills, such as CSA members, are always in demand in NFP’s, because their experience can genuinely enhance the way the organisation achieves its mission,” Mr Sheehy said.

The practical tools provided in CSA’s booklet include a model Conflict of Interest Policy for Directors and a model Declaration of Interests form.

“It’s no use just mouthing the words of good governance; CSA is dedicated to providing the tools and advice needed to apply governance in practice. This booklet is designed to do just that, so that directors and officers in NFP’s can apply best practice governance, whatever their level of experience in the sector,” Mr Sheehy said.

The booklet is available from CSA at a nominal charge by phoning 1800 251 849 or (02) 9223 5744.

For further information please contact Mr Tim Sheehy on (02) 9223 5744 or 0419 490 594 or Viv Hardy on (02) 9818 9310.

About Chartered Secretaries Australia

Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA) is the peak professional body delivering accredited education and the most practical and authoritative training and information on governance, as well as thought leadership in the field.

MR/2006/10

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