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Governance of NSW NFP Organisations Research Report

Published by The Centre for Volunteering, June 2010

Executive Summary
Governance of NSW NFP Organisations Research Report In 2008 The Centre for Volunteering (The Centre) evaluated the issue of optimal board size. This evaluation and subsequent discussions revealed a general need for a broader baseline understanding of governance in Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisations, board size being just one aspect of this. This led to the decision to conduct an expanded research project including the other aspects of board operation, such as:
  • Aspects of good governance, for example, strategy and direction setting, mission and values, risk management, accountability, legal aspects, performance measurement
  • Aspects of the board, for example, recruitment and retention of directors, time and effort required, experience and training, performance of directors
  • Relationship of the executive with the board
  • Relationships between board members, board members and chair
  • Effective controls and communication, for example, role of the chair, effective reporting and imparting the strategic vision to the organisation.

This report on The Centre 2009 Governance of NSW Not-for-Profit (NFP) Organisations is the result of an on-line survey of CEO's, Executive Officers and Board members of 700 NSW NFP organisations. The organisations varied in size, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) definition of size by employee numbers, from small – less than 20, medium – between 20 and 200 and large – more than 200 full time equivalent (FTE) paid employees.

The survey population included a wide variety of NSW NFPs and they were not selected specifically because they were volunteer organisations. However, of the participating organisations 133 utilised volunteers in 2008 with some having less than 20 while others had more than 1,000 volunteers.

A total of 140 respondent organisations operated in the following segments of the NFP sector of NSW participated in the survey:

  • Community Services /Welfare
  • Education/Youth Services
  • Health
  • Arts/Culture/Heritage
  • Conservation/Environment/Animal Welfare
  • Other

Some respondents indicated that their organisation also operated in multiple locations in NSW.

The study makes the following recommendations:

  1. A dialogue should be opened between the NFP sector and Funding bodies to increase the understanding and value of effective board operation. The Centre can lead this debate in volunteering organisations however it should be wide spread throughout the NFP sector and lead by government.
  2. Funding applications should include a component dedicated by NFPs assist those governed by boards/management committees improve board member recruitment practices and training.
  3. Funding applications should include a component dedicated by NFPs assist those governed by boards/management committees improve board training.
  4. Boards should consider regular performance evaluation.
  5. The Centre should debate with the Government the necessity of regulatory changes and any adverse financial impact changes may have.
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