Teachers get professional development to maintain their professional certification. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals also take classes and engage in professional development. As a CPA, I have to maintain my professional credentials through education. (Continuing professional education (CPE) is required for CPAs to maintain their professional competence and provide quality professional services.)
Recently, the New Hampshire state Senate passed a bill mandating that at least one board member of every nonprofit that receives state money attend a 4 hour financial management training session every other year. While it is understandable that the nonprofits in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire would be incensed at the prospect of Big Brother forcing them into anything, the sentiment behind the push for more knowledge around fiduciary responsibility shouldn’t be dismissed. Knowledge is a good thing and more knowledge is a better thing.
However, is having just one board member receive training really enough? Each and every board member has a fiduciary responsibility to understand the financial information they receive and make decisions for an organization based on this information. The new Form 990 even asks the organization if all board members have been provided a copy of the Form 990 prior to submitting the form.
With so many nonprofits struggling nowadays, why not look at enforced education as a chance to add value to your nonprofit? To connect with other nonprofit executives and share best practices? There’s no law that says we all have to go it alone – even if there is (now) a law in New Hampshire that says nonprofit board members need to learn more about how to keep their nonprofits fiscally fit.