Boards embracing fiscal oversight…

by Jini Stolk

Or so we sincerely hope. A Fine Balance: An Arts Board’s Role in Financial Oversight and Responsibility on June 13 was another sold-out event from the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Creative Champions Network. Extremely wise words from keynote speaker Lois Fine (Director of Finance and Information Technology at YWCA Toronto and a playwright, performer and producer) – on what a board needs to look for in reviewing budgets and financial statements; the reasonable expectations between board members and arts managers regarding reporting; and those tasks that should be assigned to the Treasurer and finance committee, among other topics – built great energy and a fascinating discussion on fiduciary responsibility (really.) Thanks also to panel members Ghislain Carol, David Kilburn, and Craig Morash for generously sharing their experiences and learned insights.

For those who couldn’t be there, a valuable Resource Sheet is up on the TAF’s website. And remember that while “The budget is the budget and we can’t budge it”, regular updates on variances and projected year-end actuals are always in order!

Our next session on September 7th will cover the board’s role in fundraising, a topic intimately tied to an organization’s financial health and sustainability. Details will be announced soon.

I still hear stories about new board members who announce at an early meeting that they hate fundraising and don’t want to do any. First of all, and this WILL be covered at the workshop, why wasn’t there an honest discussion during initial meetings about the company’s funding needs and ways for board members to be meaningfully involved in resource development?

And secondly, does fundraising have to be a horrible humiliating slog? Of course not. Those of us who’ve done a lot of it know that while a thick skin, a large and frequently replenished pipeline, and a “that’s too bad but moving on…” attitude are necessary to successful campaigns – there’s as much satisfaction and pride to be found in fundraising as in any other part of our work.

I don’t expect board members to be involved in crafting fundraising emails, but while I’m on the topic I thought I’d share these useful pieces with the managers and fundraisers who are reading this:

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