Fiduciary Responsibility of the Board
The most important and lasting legacy the initial board of directors can pass on is the recognition that the work they do on behalf of the organization is held to a higher level than anything else.
The Financial Part of Fiduciary Responsibility
From a financial standpoint, it is the board's responsibility to keep the funds the group raises safe from risk. The board must make sure that all operational decisions are based on sound financial analysis.
Maintaining the organization's financial integrity is the first thing associated with the word fiduciary, but the responsibility includes preserving the essence of the group for the present and the future.
Nonfinancial Fiduciary Responsibility
As the organization matures and the committees, staff, and community volunteers come into their own, the board must temper risky options that may be presented. The board will need to weigh proposals that may not appear to be financial in nature but could potentially affect the group's finances if mistakes are made or there is a lapse in attention.
Fiduciary responsibility also means “carrying the flame” — that is, being the soul and conscience of the organization at all times. It's hard, demanding, and at times, uncomfortable work. It is also invaluable.
Examples of such issues include real-estate purchases; they may also include programs the group wants to present that may have a negative effect on parts of the community or on the funding streams. Examine everything you consider doing in light of how it might affect the organization in the short term (attendance, positive media, etc.) and also how it might affect the group's financial well-being in the long term.