Helping NGOs do more with their money

Financial governance

NGOs exist for the benefit of their beneficiaries. The NGO’s governing body is entrusted with responsibility for overseeing the organisation on behalf of the beneficiaries. For this reason, governing body members are often called ‘trustees’. They act as stewards, representing and protecting the beneficiaries’ interests.

The board has ultimate legal, moral, and financial responsibility for the organisation.

The governing body

The governing body may have different names, such as board of trustees, board of directors, executive council, executive committee, etc. The board is often organised with a series of permanent or temporary sub-committees – eg for Finance and Personnel matters.  Advisory committees are also frequently set up to provide support to a country programme or new project.

The five roles of board members

Board members should avoid getting too involved in day to day management of the organisation, although they do need to be aware of what is happening. Their five roles are:

1. Making sure funds are used to help beneficiaries effectively

If there is no evidence of dialogue with beneficiaries, then your work may not be meeting their real needs

2. Making sure the organisation has enough funding

If any fund balances are in negative, this could have serious implications for your credibility

3. Making sure the organisation has effective senior management

Everything you want to achieve depends on the people employed to do it. Senior managers have to inspire and support other staff.

4. Making sure the organisation operates within the law

5. Making sure the board can handle its responsibilities effectively

Mango has a one day training course called Financial governance in practice, which can be run as an in-house event for your board.

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