WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

Family Services of Southeast Texas strengthens families through accessible, affordable counseling services and education for issues affecting family life, mental health and employment.  We also provide comprehensive domestic violence shelter and support services.
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ORGANIZATION TESTIMONIAL

Holy Family Institute

Sister Linda Yankoski, President/CEO

The Council On Accreditation provides all stakeholders involved in the delivery of social services the assurance that the organization is credible, effective, and is committed to quality improvement. The COA process is an important tool for anyone involved in leading an organization to establish best practices and maintaining and updating these practices over time.
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Purpose

Sound governance increases the nonprofit organization’s viability and sustainability.

FOC
GOV 6: Governance Responsibilities

In fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities, the governing body:

  1. reviews management’s implementation of an effective strategic planning process;
  2. reviews risk identification and management processes to prevent loss of reputation, vital resources, and ability to operate;
  3. develops and adopts policy;
  4. provides financial oversight, adopting changes to policies considered necessary based on reviews and evaluations;
  5. anticipates the need for and develops resources;
  6. reviews achievement of the organizations’ objectives through operations and services; and
  7. enhances and promotes community-organization relationships.

Interpretation: A large organization is likely to have units, committees, or a task force structure to accomplish these goals; a small organization may not. When the organization can demonstrate that the governing body carries out its responsibilities effectively and thoroughly through regular meetings and clear responsibilities, implementation of the standard will be achieved.

Regarding element (d), recommended practice suggests that the audit committee of the governing board operates with the authority to hire legal and other advisors if it needs outside help.

Note: See the Governing Body Responsibilities Tip Sheet in the Governance Standards Tool Kit - Private, Public, Canadian, Network. 

Rating Indicators
1
The organization's practices fully meet the standard, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the GOV 6 Practice standards.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the GOV 6 Practice standards.
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the GOV 6 Practice standards.
4
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g.,
  • The governing body is ineffective, inactive, poorly organized, or does not otherwise fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities; or
  • The executive director dominates the governing body to the extent that it does little more than ratify decisions already made by the executive director.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Succession planning procedures (GOV 6.07)
    • Succession plan (GOV 6.07)
    • Governing Body and/or committee meeting minutes including record of policy decisions
    • Management letter from last two audits
    • Interview:
      1. Governing Body Chair
      2. CEO
      3. Governing Body
      4. CFO (GOV 6.04 and 6.05)
      5. Governing Body Treasurer (GOV 6.04 and 6.05)
      6. Management personnel (GOV 6.06)

  • GOV 6.01

    Governing body members adhere to the organization’s conflict of interest policy, including disclosure of any financial interest in the organization’s assets and business transactions.

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The organization's practices reflect full implementation of the standard.
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement; e.g. 
    • Expectations regarding the conflict of interest policy need clarifying.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement; e.g., 
    • Some governing body members report not being aware of the conflict of interest policy; or
    • The organization received a rating of 3 for ETH 2.03.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g.,
    • Governing body members are not provided with the organization's conflict of interest policy; or
    • The conflict of interest policy does not address disclosure of financial interest; or
    • Undisclosed conflicts are evident or disclosed conflicts are not addressed appropriately.

  • GOV 6.02

    Policy development responsibilities of the governing body include:

    1. adopting policies;
    2. reviewing policies periodically and when legal requirements or regulations change;
    3. adopting any changes to policies resulting from recommendations; and
    4. evaluating management’s implementation of policies.

    Interpretation: The governing body must actively exercise its policy-setting prerogative, for example, policies are periodically reviewed as a whole, and specific policy matters regularly receive governing body attention. The governing body must view policy as the governing body’s major means of providing a framework and guidance for the organization’s overall direction.

    Interpretation: An organization that follows a policy governance model may not typically develop, ratify, and maintain statements known as “policies.” However, distillations of the organization’s principles, philosophies, practice, or “ends” may be considered policies for the purposes of this standard.

    For organizations with Boards that delegate the responsibilities for adopting, reviewing, changing, and/or evaluating implementation of policy to the Executive Director, evidence of presenting and discussing with the Board, any changes, additions, etc. related to policies are reflected in the Board minutes to demonstrate Board involvement with approval. 

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The governing body actively exercises its policy-setting prerogatives as per the requirements of the standard, and policy decisions are reflected in comprehensive and up-to-date minutes of the governing body meetings. 
    Policy setting is viewed as the board's major means of providing a framework and guidance for the organization's overall direction.
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement; e.g.,
    • Governing body practice related to one or two of the elements could be strengthened in some minor way.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement, e.g., 
    • A systematic review of review of policies has not been conducted for more than four years; or
    • In some instances, organizational policies have been implemented prior to, or without, governing body review or approval; or
    • The governing body review of management implementation of policies is sporadic.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g.,
    • The organization's executive director approves policies without involvement of the governing body; or
    • One of the elements is not addressed at all.

  • GOV 6.03

    Resource development responsibilities of the governing body include:

    1. establishing targets and goals; and
    2. ensuring adequate resources to support the organization’s services.

    Interpretation: Resource development targets and goals should flow from strategic planning to ensure that programs and operations are appropriately supported. Strategies for resource development can include, for example, fundraising, grants, contracts for service, and new business development opportunities. COA recognizes that not all organizations fundraise; however, fundraising is a vital means to achieving a flexible revenue base and a traditional role assumed by nonprofit governing bodies. Fundraising activities are evaluated under section ETH 3.

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The organization's governing body actively fulfills its resource development responsibilities as per the requirements of the standard. 
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement; e.g., 
    • The link between resource development and strategic goals and objectives needs clarification.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement; e.g., 
    • Management is largely responsible for resource development with the governing body taking a secondary role while providing limited oversight of management's activities.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g.,
    • The governing body is not involved in resource development.

  • GOV 6.04

    The governing body understands and exercises appropriate stewardship in fulfilling financial duties and responsibilities.

    Interpretation: Organizations that use a policy governance model will demonstrate that the governing body has developed the organization’s broad vision and provided oversight to the operational planning activities conducted by management, whereby the governing body, itself, would not necessarily carry out these financial duties.

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The organization's practices reflect full implementation of the standard.
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.

  • GOV 6.05

    The governing body’s responsibilities regarding the executive director include:

    1. appointment of the executive director;
    2. collaboration with the executive director;
    3. delegation of the authority and responsibility for organization management and policy implementation to the executive director;
    4. oversight and annual evaluation of the executive director’s performance and compensation;
    5. approval of the executive director’s employment activities outside of the organization to ensure they do not interfere with her/his administrative responsibilities; and
    6. evaluation of the effectiveness of its partnership with the executive director, at least every two years.

    Interpretation: A written employment agreement or contract between the board and CEO can add stability to an organization by clarifying the relationship between the board and CEO and establishing each party’s rights and responsibilities. This agreement may address information such as term, salary and compensation, duties of the CEO, insurance coverage, and provisions for notice and compensation in the event of resignation or early termination.

    Interpretation: Recommended practice regarding element (d) encourages use of a performance review tool that examines many facets of the CEO’s performance, including leadership, management of the organization, working relationship with the board and staff, and management of the organization’s finances. In addition, criteria for compensation should be established consistent with industry parameters that may include: compensation paid to other CEOs in similar positions, cost of living considerations, and the total professional experience of the CEO, including advanced degrees and other experiences and skills that uniquely contribute to the success of the organization, as well as compliance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulations and guidelines regarding reasonable compensation.

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The organization's practices reflect full implementation of each of the standard's elements.
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement; e.g., 
    • There is minor confusion or overlap as to the relative roles of the governing body and the executive director (e.g., resource development); or
    • The governing body annually reviews the executive director's compensation, but could improve the quality of its analysis with industry practice and/or federal requirements.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement, e.g., 
    • The governing body evaluates the executive director's performance less than annually; or the evaluation is informal (not written, dated, or signed); or the evaluation is not comprehensive or does not use specific performance criteria; or the executive director is not involved in the evaluation process; or
    • The chief executive officer has not received governing body approval for unrelated external business activities; or
    • The governing body does not evaluate its partnership with the executive director.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g., 
    • At least two of the elements are not addressed at all.

  • GOV 6.06

    At least annually the governing body conducts an assessment of overall risk to the organization, including the organization’s continuing ability to pursue strategic goals.

    Interpretation: This standard is connected to RPM 2.01, which addresses the assessment of risks related to legal requirements; technology and information management; insurance and liability; health and safety; human resources; contracting; client rights and confidentiality; finance; public relations, branding, and reputation; and conflicts of interest. In order to receive a rating of “1” on GOV 6.06, the governing body should review the results of those assessments all together, at least once a year.

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The governing body annually conducts a comprehensive assessment of overall risk to the organization as per the requirements of the standard and includes the areas of risk noted in the interpretation and the governing body reviews the results of those assessments all together, at least once a year.
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement; e.g.
    • While the governing body assesses each of the risks listed in the interpretation annually, it reviews risk related to different aspects of the organization at different times, therefore inhibiting its ability to comprehensively assess overall risk; or
    • The risk assessment does not include one of the areas listed in the interpretation.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement; e.g., 
    • The governing body has not conducted a comprehensive  risk assessment within the last two years; or
    • The risk assessment is not comprehensive; or
    • Documentation of the annual risk assessment in minutes and/or inclusion of reports or data about the listed risks is weak or missing.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g.,
    • A comprehensive risk assessment has not been conducted for more than two years or did not involve the governing body; or
    • Governing body members report not being aware of the type and scope of the risks facing the organization.

  • GOV 6.07

    To ensure continuity during transitions in leadership, the organization maintains succession planning procedures and a succession plan to address: 

    1. critical positions within the organization and their key leadership and management functions;
    2. under what conditions interim authority can be delegated for those positions, including unexpected leadership disruptions and planned departures, and the limitations of that authority; 
    3. to whom various leadership and management functions will be delegated;
    4. governing body and staff responsibilities as they relate to transition planning and the resources needed to effectively and efficiently manage active transition periods;
    5. how succession planning and leadership transitions will be communicated to the governing body, staff, and other relevant stakeholders; and 
    6. mechanisms for assessing readiness to assume leadership positions and for providing training, mentorship, and other leadership development opportunities to support readiness. 

    Interpretation: While succession planning is most commonly associated with the absence of an executive director, including other senior staff members and board members in the succession plan can further reduce operational risks to an organization and promote continuity. As outlined in element (a) of the standard, it is up to the organization to determine what positions should be incorporated in the succession planning process. Surveying key responsibilities of staff and board members in leadership roles as they relate to administrative operations and resource relationships can help identify positions that are critical to an organization. 

    Interpretation: Regarding element (d), an organization can establish a committee to handle periods of transition. The committee, typically comprised of board members and organization leadership, is responsible for all aspects of transition planning and management, including identifying qualified candidates for vacancies and conducting formal searches, when necessary. 

    Interpretation: Training referenced in element (f) can include cross-training, where staff and board members are trained in each others’ duties and responsibilities as a way of sharing knowledge about key organizational functions. For example, a recommended best practice is for members of the senior leadership team to be prepared to temporarily assume essential responsibilities of the executive director, as deemed appropriate by the governing body, in the event of an unexpected absence. 

    Research Note: A key competency of an effective, viable organization is being able to recruit, cultivate, and retain strong leaderships. Succession planning enables an organization to identify and nurture the leaders that they require to succeed. 

    There are many ways for an organization to think about succession planning such as a risk management strategy (emergency succession planning) or pre-preparation planning (defined-departure planning), but the most comprehensive approach is to align succession planning with broader strategic planning processes to foster professional growth and leadership development throughout the organization. 


    Strategic leader development is an ongoing practice that calls for an organization to assess the skills, abilities, and experience of staff and board members alongside its strategic goals and vision to inform future training and professional development opportunities, external recruitment efforts, and strategies for strengthening the overall infrastructure. 

    Rating Indicators
    1
    The organization's practices reflect full implementation of the standard's elements. 
    2
    Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement; e.g.,
    • One of the elements is not fully addressed.
    3
    Practice requires significant improvement; e.g.,
    • Two elements are not fully addressed; or
    • One element is not addressed at all.
    4
    Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all; e.g.,
    • At least two of the elements are not addressed at all.
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