The Policies and Procedures Every Association Must Have

The Policies and Procedures Every Association Must Have

Once you have established your association, created a constitution and elected your board members, there are several policies and procedures that should be put in place to ensure the effectiveness and wellbeing of your organisation. These policies must be carefully constructed – if you do not take the time to implement detailed procedures then your association can quickly crumble.

The Board Governance policies will be developed by the board, and they ensure that the association acts in accordance with all legal requirements and members’ code of conduct. There are many elements that should be included in these policies. Here we have outlined just a few of the significant ones. 

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct outlines the ethical and proper practices that board members, staff and association members are expected to follow. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Diligence and a willingness to participate fully as a member of the board while being able to dedicate enough time to its governance.
  • Not disclosing confidential and non-public information related to the association and its activities.
  • Ensure that each member of the Board is given the same opportunity to express their views and their opinions are offered the same weight as their peers.
  • Remaining transparent with stakeholders in regard to the association’s performance.
  • Publicly and privately support the organisation and each other, with consideration toward each members individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Carry out all duties in a lawful manner and ensure the organisation does so too. 

Privacy Policy

The privacy policy exists to protect the organisation and allow it to carry out its mission to the best of its ability. Additionally, all members should be aware of the privacy policies in place and agree to them. Stipulations that may be included in a privacy policy include:

  • Data and personal information will be collected from members in order to deliver services in a lawful manner. In the case of a data breach through means such as hacking, the members will be notified immediately and actions to rectify the breach must be followed. All data provided by members must be stored securely.
  • The association, including its board members and staff, will ensure that all records are protected from loss or unauthorised access.
  • Information will not be given to a third party with the individual’s consent or unless the association is required by law.

Media Policy

Your media policy is highly important because as a non-profit organisation there may be times in which you will be interacting with the media in order to achieve your goals. To prevent misrepresentation in the media and to protect the association’s reputation, the following should be included:

  • Note that the policy is not intended to interrupt individual’s rights to freedom of speech but to establish a healthy and effective working relationship with the media.
  • Honesty, transparency, clarity and objectivity should be maintained with all media interactions.
  • The association should make sure to work with the media in order to advocate for the aims of the organisation, assist in the recruitment of new members and promote the work of the members.
  • Only those nominated by the board, such as a spokesperson, should be speaking to the media. If in doubt, it is better to exercise extreme caution.

Finance Policy

A finance policy is a big task to put together, but arguably one of the most important aspects to any organisation. Strong financial procedures will keep your association afloat and help you to achieve your goals with great success. Things to consider when building a finance policy include:

  • Keep up to date records and regularly generate reports in regards to the association’s financial health including balance sheets.
  • All information in regard to the association’s finances should be reported to the board. It is the responsibility of the Treasurer to meet regularly with the CEO, accountant or bookkeeper to communicate financial progress.
  • Finances should always be kept in line with current legal protocols.
  • Internal financial controls should be established in order to mitigate risk, accidental spending, accumulation of debt and to limit who can access funds.

Risk Management

Procedures that are put in place to mitigate risk are absolutely essential and should be agreed to by all members and staff. It is the responsibility of the board to ensure that there is an effective risk management strategy in place so that any legal or strategic risks can be confidently dealt with. Things to consider when building a risk management plan are:

  • If you have the resources, consider establishing a risk management subcommittee. They will oversee the implementation of your risk management policies and will review all supplier contracts, conduct due diligence on the organisations that are providing services to the association and make recommendations to the board as needed.
  • A business continuity plan will help to maintain regular operations of the organisation in the event of an unexpected disaster such as a pandemic.
  • Have a solid plan if your association runs into legal trouble such as being fully aware of any possible legal implications and contact legal counsel.
  • Association insurance can be an important asset and could be instrumental to your organisation’s survival through unexpected circumstances.

Of course, this list is not comprehensive and there are many more policies and procedures that should be implemented within your organisation. Building an association that is risk free and operates to its highest capacity is a difficult task, but beginning with the above policies is a great place to start.

Where to Start

If you know your association needs help with its policies and procedures, but you're not sure where to start, try the AES Not-for-Profit Association Best Practice Self-Assessment.

A diagnostic tool, our Self-Assessment allows you to measure your association against proven best practice criteria. You can pinpoint areas for improvement across 10 Areas of Best Practice, and then use our associated Member Resources to help you improve your performance

About the Author: Nick Koerbin (Executive Director, AES)

With over 30 years of management expertise, Executive Director and Founder of AES, Nick Koerbin is one of the most experienced NFP leaders in Australia. He has held positions as the CEO of Materials Australia, the National Parts Code, as well as senior positions in the Institute of Insurance, Australian Quality Council, the Financial Planning Association, the Australian Human Resources Institute, and the Furniture Industry Association of Australia. Nick created AES with a vision of creating a set of management practices that could be consistently followed to ensure success. Over his 30 years in the industry, he noticed that inconsistent management practices often impeded delivery of services to members, which in turn created issues with membership renewal. By establishing AES and creating the NFP Association Best Practice Self-Assessment, Nick has been able to assist leaders in becoming more confident and informed decision makers so that they can create more effective strategies and implementation plans.

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