Entity Types

Governance key to NFPs managing nefarious risk

As the RAA ad says, trust is a must.

And so it is the country’s Not-For-Profit (NFP) sector which stands to be tarred, albeit unfairly, by a sweeping brush if it’s governance isn’t tightened up and moved towards best practice.

That’s the message I take from a recent report, the first of its kind in Australia, that found that good governance is the sector’s best ally if it’s to counter the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing.

Commissioned by our financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and entitled ‘ Australia’s Non-Profit Organisation Sector: Money Laundering and Financing Risk Assessment’, the report does stress that the risk is ‘medium level’ and proven instances remain low so it’s both unwise and erroneous to be alarmist. Continue reading

Making sure NFP mergers meet expectation

There’s no doubt the not-for-profit (NFP) landscape in Australia is in the throes of perhaps its most significant change in decades, driven largely by the ongoing expansion of the National Disability Insurance Scheme  (NDIS).

And there’s no doubt that mergers are high on the list of board actions undertaken to, mostly, make the organisations more attractive to funders and more compliant with greater governance requirements.

But mergers – in the commercial world as much as in the NFP sector – bring their own challenges.

They’re seldom if ever a solution in themselves; rather they’re just one of a number of tools at our disposal, that we can call on and utilise to arrive at the solution.
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People power on the rise as history repeats itself

There I was, trundling along in the car the other day when an interview on Radio National pricked my interest.

There was this chap chatting to Fran Kelly about co-operatives as a modern – and paradoxically, a rather old – answer to the growing trend of governments and businesses exiting from certain services.

He was saying citizens are increasingly coming together to take ownership of the problem or challenge and to do something for themselves.
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Our states and their states of mind

I’ve often wondered whether we Australians are as parochial as we’re sometimes made out to be, whether our primary loyalty does indeed lie with our state, followed by our country. We’re said to be first and foremost South Aussies or Victorians, Tasmanians or New South Welshmen (and women!), Queenslanders or Western Australians – and let’s not forget our Territorian twins!

If an email I received the other day is any indication, there’s more than a grain of truth in that assertion.

You may recall a blog about two months back when I said the ability of a board to listen to stakeholders is perhaps the fundamental tenet of good governance – and it can be particularly tough, not to mention prickly, in federated member-based organisations where traditionally there’s a balancing act between listening to the regions and having functioning, national entities with effective boards characterised by impartiality and neutrality.
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Tapping into advisory boards is an intelligent move

While there has been some debate around the importance or otherwise of advisory boards – and I guess the conclusion ultimately determines their value – there’s savvy aplenty in the general rule that getting added intelligence into the company can never be a bad thing.

Intelligence, of course, is one of the key currencies that separates the great companies and organisations from the good ones (and the not-so-good ones!) and any vehicle that can serve as an astute sounding board and inject some high level thinking into the corporate conversation should be welcomed.

As the name implies, the advisory board is there to provide advice, which can then be used to inform the decision.
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The ten steps to Federation nirvana

As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs, the world of federated entities is complex in a governance sense, with regional baggage and partiality just two elements adding to an already tricky landscape.

So I thought it timely and beneficial to devote some time to sharing what I believe are the 10 steps to success for federated entities in the not-for-profit sector.

Firstly, there needs to be a common strategic direction, a plan for the entire country, with each entity’s strategic and annual plans aligning with the national direction and fitting in with the Australia-wide umbrella.
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Listen up…here’s the primary tenet of good governance

For most of us blessed with hearing, it’s probably true to say not too many of us are great listeners. Yes, we all hear, but do we really listen?

I pose the question because in the world of good governance, perhaps the fundamental tenet, the beacon that stands head and shoulders above all others in this multi-faceted discipline is the board’s ability to listen – really listen – to its major stakeholders.

The primary stakeholder is, of course, the owner or owners and shareholders of the entity or, in the not-for-profit world, the members.
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Getting antsy about ACNC governance standards

It looks like the ACNC may well survive. On 24 June the Senate moved a motion calling on the Government to withdraw the ACNC Repeal Bill. Many see this as good news.

The ACNC is widely applauded but, I have to say, I was disappointed in the set of governance standards realised by the ACNC last year.

That mildly crude old Australian expression of being as useful as a one-legged man in an arse kicking contest came to mind when I first saw the documented standards.

Now I’m not having a dig at the Commission, but…………

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Taking The ‘Me’ Out Of SME Can See Your Business Take Off

I’m often asked by those in small business when they should turn their thoughts towards adopting some sort of board structure – and my stock answer is: it’s never too soon.

I intentionally use the words ‘some sort of board structure’ as the SME landscape is a pretty expansive one, dotted with many companies that have succeeded as sole directorships and just as many that have thrived on external skills.

What’s important is that there’s a keen understanding of the divide between strategic and operational needs and the fact that both require focus and attention. And if internal skills don’t allow for this, we need to look outside for these people.  Whether they then act in an advisory capacity or are appointed to a more formal board structure doesn’t really matter.  What does is that we appreciate the need and are prepared to listen and learn.
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How To Prepare Your Business For Growth

You’re motivated, you have a great idea and you fancy your entrepreneurial spirit and as important as they are in launching a new business, I’m sorry to say they’re not enough.

That’s because your success will ultimately depend on having three key elements in place at the outset – an end game in sight, an appreciation of the importance of the right people and a willingness to ask for money.

The end game, of course, is your vision for the company.

When you know where you wish to end up, it’s so much easier to build the structures to take you there. So spend time on this vital aspect and only when you know you have it in sharp focus, turn your attention to people.
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