Checklist: Divided loyalties in troubled times

By governance expert Rodney Buse

Rodney Buse
Rodney Buse

Many charities now have to face difficult decisions on spending cuts that are a real challenge to personal loyalties.

When faced with making choices and the need to prioritise effort, inevitably the impact on people will be considered. It is not uncommon for the head to think one thing while the heart feels another.

Do you put the staff and colleagues first, or the future health and sustainability of the organisation? It is difficult not to be influenced by the effect on staff members who have often done more than is required out of passion and commitment.

In truth, neither question is the right one for a trustee board to put first. Staff and the organisation exist only to deliver benefits to beneficiaries as defined by the aims and objectives of the charity.

Different ways of delivering services will need to be considered, including setting aside peripheral activities that others might be able to deliver more effectively.

What might be best for the long-term beneficiaries might be at odds with the interests of staff or the organisation. Wise boards recognise this and focus on the needs of the communities they serve.

That done, they use their hearts when implementing decisions with care and compassion.

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